Saturday, 13 January 2018

I prefer making movies organically: Arun Prabu - An interaction with Aruvi's filmmaker

I wanted my film to be relatable to audience in all slabs of the society and that's why Aruvi looks so down to Earth, says filmmaker Arun Prabu Purushothaman, who is the recent sensation of Tamil cinema industry who was the latest admission to the list of successful debutante directors. When I recently caught up with the budding talent in the sidelines of INSPIRE '18 International Films Summit at MOP Vaishnav College for Women, Arun shared a lot about Aruvi, creative freedom, his upcoming projects and much more. Here are the excerpts.

Photo by: Ashwin

Once, you mentioned that you had to dilute the intensity of certain dialogues in the movie as the producers alerted you to do so, as it might not go through the censors successfully. At this juncture, do you think that there is a comfortable landscape of creative freedom persisting in the industry?

Actually, our producers were so supportive since the beginning. They were insisting me that I should get satisfied with the output and only then we can proceed. We did it like a completely independent filmmaking. And there are very few production houses that would let a filmmaker to make a movie with this level of freedom. For an instance, we took about eight months to select an artiste through audition for playing Aruvi's role. During that time, our producers were all okay with that. So I do not see any sort of constraint over creative freedom. When coming to the censor board part, it all depends on that four people who watch the movie on that day. Perception differs from person to person and that's why same idea proposed in different films get different responses in the censor.

You had a script before Aruvi, and it was dropped unfortunately as you were asked to compromise on certain aspects. What sort of compromise was that in terms of creative freedom?

It was during 2012, I had that script written and ready for making. During the pre production, there was a pressure as I was asked to add a few peppy songs, dancing numbers and some commercial elements. At that time, there was not this much reception to content oriented movies that we see now. So, the producers were little hesitant to take a risk for that budget. Even for Aruvi, which was made in a minimal budget hit the screens so late since we had a lot of experimentation, like having a female lead with no star value. So, it happens.

Are you planning to resume the works of your first script?

Not only that script, I have been working on a three more scripts on a full fledged way. And I am not sure which one would go first. But, I want any of my upcoming film to happen in an organic way. When I find right people who can work on any of my scripts, it will automatically take off.

The cast of Aruvi was looking so experienced with method acting. You had caught even minute detailing of all characters of your cast irrespective of their importance in the plot. Was that a preplanned one or did that happen on the go?

As I said earlier, we did this movie in a very minimal budget. So I was pretty sure in the beginning that, when we start off with the shooting we would not have time to discuss more on adding new creative elements to the movie, as it might lead to a delay in completion causing a hike in the budget. So, we had an extensive pre production where we had a lot of content and elements added to the script. Since, most of the artistes of the movie were not professional artistes, we had to do months of reharsals before we started off with the shoot. That could be why the cast seemed to be a team of experts.

There was a time when creators aspired to make a movie like 16 Vayathinilae. Later it was Moondram Pirai, Mouna Ragam and so on. Now Aruvi joins the club where at this point, some upcoming directors want a movie like Aruvi to be made by them. Do you really want to be trend setter as you are treated now?

When I wrote Aruvi, I wanted it to be loved by all. Our gang of friends would watch movies in theatres like Devi Karumari and Rohini, where audience would travel with the characters of the movie. They share the emotions of the cast and would also troll, when something goes wrong in the screen like lengthy dialogues or irrelevant songs. So, I decided to make Aruvi for that kind of audience to receive and take in well. But, I did not expect that it will lead me to this stage as you say.

In this season of preachy movies, how did you manage to write a movie with such a controlled scripting where you have a lot of social awareness elements and still an entertaining one?

Even I personally do not like if someone gives a long lecture to me on anything and that's how people too are. So, when I was writing the script, I was totally conscious that the movie is not delivering its ideology as a preaching, but as an emotion. Because, emotion sells well among the audience, who are smarter than the creators. They can easily identify false propaganda of any ideology and would reject them easily. So that's why we could win.

There were a lot of comments from a section of middle aged audience that they miss Ilayaraja in this contented movie. Why did you not opt for Ilayaraja or any other legendary technician in Aruvi?

Two reasons. Firstly, when you ask any middle age person who come up with such comment, on what they like about Ilayaraja, they might answer 'Annakili' or any other works of Raja's retro period. That's because Raja himself was a newbie at that time. Every time cinema wants someone who would break the conventional method and come out in a contemporary form. This is also the expectation of the spectators. While, the second one is, we could opt only the technicians who are affordable in our budget, even though we wish for biggies.

- Santhosh Mathevan,
Chennai, January 13, 2018.

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