Pancharaaksharam: When the elements come together
Debutant director Balaji Vairamuthu talks about his first film Pancharaaksharam, which is set for release this Friday
The five elements of nature have been an integral part of our culture and have also been a staple in many films. The latest to join the list is this week's release, Pancharaaksharam, directed by debutant filmmaker Balaji Vairamuthu. "The title, Pancharaaksharam, refers to the five-syllable word 'Namah Shivaya'. We've incorporated the ideologies of Lord Shiva with the five elements of nature. While we do not delve into the religious aspects, the film is based on a belief that changing our thought process will change our life. Yennam pol vazhkai," says Balaji.
The film, true to its name, has five leads — Santhosh Prathap, Madhu Shalini, Sana Althaf, Ashwin Jerome, and Gokul Anand — and each of them represents one of the five elements, the director explains. "For example, Santhosh is a traveller in the film, so he represents the sky. He's a free spirit. Similarly, each of the other characters has the characteristics of the associated element," says Balaji, who is quick to add that the film is not just that. "The team gets a 1000-year-old book which is designed to alter destiny. When they read the book, it changes their lives. Are these changes supernatural or does it have anything to do with their thoughts, is the core idea of the film. Did the events happen because they read the book or would it have happened if they had not read it too? Pancharaaksharam answers that question in an adventurous manner with a narrative that contains supernatural elements and psychological reasoning."
The casting, Balaji says, happened on its own. "Ashwin, who plays a racer in the film, is a friend of mine. He has been part of the film ever since its conception. We felt that Santhosh would fit the role of a traveller as he treks a lot too. When we were looking for another male lead, we spotted Gokul in the viral Vadi Vadi track from Chennai 2 Singapore. He plays a musician in the film and it was only after signing him that we found out he knows how to play the guitar. As far as the female characters are concerned, I needed an actor who could pull off an innocent role. Sana Althaf fit the bill perfectly. Madhu Shalini's role is that of a complex intellectual. She has also done a good job. The women are actually the backbone of this script."
From the trailer, it is apparent that the film has been shot in various locations. Balaji says they filmed in over 70 locations. "We took to the road and touched Madurai, Dindigul, Kodaikanal, a few hills around it, and Pondicherry as well. Just like the locations, I wanted the film also to be a mix of genres. I believe films are evolving into fusion genres as we've exploited the regular genres," he concludes.