'I almost did a film with Salman Khan'
...says director Saran, who is making a comeback to Tamil cinema with this Friday's release, Aayirathil Iruvar
Saran has made just over a dozen films in almost 20 years in Tamil cinema. This week’s release, Aayirathil Iruvar starring Vinay, is his 13th, and marks his second collaboration with the actor after Modhi Vilayadu about eight years back. “The film’s about money laundering, and while most other films have handled it from an urban perspective, we will explore it from a rural backdrop,” says Saran, who is making a rural film for the first time. “There are a couple of cliched shots and sequences as one would expect in such a script, but for the most part, we have fought against the usual template.”
Photos from the film don’t quite betray the serious themes of the film. “That’s because there’s a good dose of humour too. Most of the comedy comes out of situational humour based on the lifestyle of the people in Tirunelveli,” says the Vasool Raja MBBS director.
On working again with Vinay, he says they share great camaraderie. “It’s about the comfort. He’s a dedicated artiste too, and plays a dual role but I’ve avoided the usual gimmicks associated with double-action subjects. In fact, I’ll be changing the perception of how people view such films.”
The film will also see Saran joining hands again with composer Bharathwaj with whom the director has done almost all his films with the exceptions of Alli Arjuna and Modhi Vilayadu. “We share a great understanding. Sometimes, a tune would come from nowhere in the middle of our conversation. I create dummy lyrics also sometimes as he’s singing the tune. It’s a bit like the ‘Sippi Irukkuthu’ song (laughs).” Their collaboration has resulted in super hits like ‘Unnai Paartha Pinbu Naan’ in Kaadhal Mannan, ‘O Podu’ in Gemini and ‘Unnai Naan’ in Jay Jay. “People have high expectations. That’s half the job done. The wonderful thing about his compositions is that the lyrics are usually understandable,” he adds.
I point out that it’s been seven years since his last release, Aasal. “After Aasal, I was busy in Mumbai for discussions with writers for a film with Salman Khan. Before it took off, there was time to script Aayirathil Iruvar. In between, the producers changed and that took time,” he says. He also adds that he has never been one to be too perturbed over failures or successes. “Fortunately, even my films that didn’t do well went on to receive a good response when telecast on TV years later. Films like Idhaya Thirudan and Vattaram stand testament to that,” he says.
Saran believes his films are "commercial, but never masala. Even when doing commercial films, I make sure there is a poetic touch. I’m careful about that. That’s why I have survived for so many years. People cannot duplicate my style and audiences cannot ever decipher my next film’s content." He’s convinced that only commerical successes can help Tamil cinema evolve. "People trying to shun it and celebrate only offbeat films is an unnatural phenomenon."
Saran is busy with the pre-production of his next, a film called Balti. “We’re working on the casting.” I ask if he thinks he will get a chance to work with Ajith again. “All of them happened because he wanted to work with me. If ever he calls me, I’ll be there,” he smiles.