The Men of Nerkonda Paarvai
Adhik Ravichandran, Arjun Chidambaram and Aswin Rao on why they think the upcoming Tamil remake of Pink should be watched by men, especially
Arjun Chidambaram (a theatre artiste), Aswin Rao (famous for his Batman in Chennai YouTube video), and Adhik Ravichandran (director of films like Trisha Illana Nayanthara and AAA) come together in Nerkonda Paarvai to play important roles. While Arjun and Aswin play negative roles, Adhik is expected to play the friend of Shraddha Srinath's character. Here, the three actors weigh in on various aspects concerning the film, and of course, the experience of working with Ajith Kumar.
The first call and working with Ajith
Aswin: It was surreal from the very first day I was called for the audition. I even wondered if it was a prank call. I auditioned on a Wednesday, was roped in on Thursday and went to shoot on Friday. There was no response time. First day, poojai potaachu, en kazhuthula maalaiya potaachu (laughs). More than acting with Ajith sir, being with him for 25 days... it is an opportunity people will kill for.
Arjun: It was a pleasure meeting him and a blessing that we are in this film. I treat Nerkonda Paarvai as the start of my career and am extremely proud of it.
Adhik: When I got a call to be a part of Nerkonda Paarvai, I got so emotional that I literally cried. I see Ajith sir as more than a hero/mentor. Every day, we used to wait for the morning hug that he would give us. All the energy we had on the set began with that.
Adhik: I acted in K-13, for a friend. This one is more of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but my first passion is still direction.
Aswin: Yes, I have a background in comedy (stand-up and writer of comedy shows) and I can perform any comedy scene with ease. But in all three films I have done, I have only got character roles and I am thrilled to have started my career doing such challenging roles.
Adhik: You should see the hospital scene. He has done extraordinary acting in it. He shouldn't be doing or even looking at comic roles now. There is a space for character artistes and I am sure he will fill that up.
Aswin: Thank you director sir. (laughs)
Arjun: After my first film didn't do well, I realised that I didn't want to be stereotyped. I don't want to be put in a box. So whatever I have done since then have all been conscious choices. I am proud to say I am a wannabe method actor. Even my character in Nerkonda Paarvai... I don't see it as being villainous. It is just a character that drives the story. So, please, keep feeding my elephantine appetite for such roles.
On working with H Vinoth
Arjun: I was apprehensive of taking this role up for fear of being stereotyped. Even though it is Ajith sir's film, I did sense that danger, but I took up the chance because it was directed by H Vinoth. I had a checklist of directors who I wanted to work with and he was in it. When a director puts his vision even into a song, like he did with Emarum Janame in Sathuranga Vettai, you definitely want to work with someone like that. His detailing in Theeran... made me realise that if I can work with someone like that, who, for want of a better phrase, is beyond me, I will grow.
Adhik: His writing is extraordinary and I have told him that. Only when you have such strong writing will you be able to have a strong screenplay like Sathuranga Vettai. As for his casting process, I know that for Theeran..., for the North Indian characters, he waited for six months. As a director, I learnt from him never to compromise in these two areas. Nerkonda Paarvai, as a film, has given me a lot of clarity on what angles I should look at whilst writing my next film.
Arjun: Even before Aswin came on board, there was someone else who was supposed to play his role. We did a look test, a costume trial, but three days before the shoot, that guy got replaced.
Adhik: Ipdi onnu nadakkumbodhu allu irukkuma irukaadha? (laughs)
Arjun: There is a certain maturity he expected out of that character and he identified it. I will boil it all down to his stringent process, the like of which is hardly existent in our industry so much so that I am hesitant to ask for a bound script as an actor. H Vinoth though, gave us one. At this point, all I can ask is he keeps repeating me in his films. Enna vitraadheenga sir. (laughs)
A favourite scene
Aswin: An organic scene that only comes in the montage for a fleeting second. I would have done something on the spur that connects to a later scene and Vinoth told me that my improv there really helped him with that later scene.
Adhik: Ajith sir's court scene. As a fan, as an audience and as a director, I absolutely loved it.
Arjun: Two scenes. One with Rangaraj Pandey and Abhirami. And the second with Ajith sir.
Shooting the sexual assault scene
Arjun: It was my most challenging scene. It made me so uncomfortable. I even regretted taking on this film when I was filming that scene. It was not just emotionally but also physically taxing.
Why should men watch Nerkonda Paarvai?
Aswin: As men, we have a certain liberty and we can push our boundaries. For women, it keeps getting smaller. We can travel all through the day in a vehicle of our choice. For women however, if they are on a bike, they have to think of wearing a dupatta. In bus, they have to make sure that the journey is not harrowing. There is always hesitation in their actions and it is important to understand that. There is a subset of men who objectify women; our characters represent them. You will ask yourself if you have done something like this.
Adhik: All the boys might have been a part of such harassment either actively or inactively (being quiet when you see something bad happening). After they watch Nerkonda Paarvai, each man's consciousness will burst with guilt.
Aswin: Everyone will introspect.
Adhik: And realise that permission illama talking to a woman, or touching her, is an offense.
Arjun: And before that, we will realise that as men, we have an inherent belief system and through this, we have drawn a circle around women. If they dare to step out of it, we assassinate their character. As a society, we have complicated the world so much for women. You will see just how much in Nerkonda Paarvai.