Iru Dhuruvam, a thriller with a dose of Thirukkural
With Sony Liv's first Tamil web series now available for streaming, the leads Nandaa Durairaj, Abhirami Venkatachalam and director M Kumaran discuss this new-age thriller
Stars descended on Monday at a popular five-star hotel when SonyLiv launched its first Tamil web series, Iru Dhuruvam. In attendance were directors Nalan Kumarasamy, Mohan Raja and actors Vaibhav and Sanjanna Galrani apart from producers such as Gnanavel Raja and the head honchos of Sony Live. We caught up with the series' director M Kumaran, and lead actors Nandaa Durairaj, for whom Iru Dhuruvam will mark his third OTT project, and Abhirami Venkatachalam, who is fresh from her stint in Bigg Boss.
Kumaran might be a debutant but the co-director of films such as Arima Nambi and Iru Mugan has 15 years of experience under his belt. "It's a struggle to make a ripple in the film industry, and thankfully, the web series trend has made it easier," says the director who was keen that his series not follow the usual tropes of a crime thriller. "The basic formula of the genre is for a crime to take place and clues leading the cop to the killer. To make it more interesting, I have used the Tamil language enterprisingly. Each crime scene will have a Thirukkural as a clue, as the killer loves the language. It is something I got inspired from researching about serial killers and how they get a high from the cat and mouse game with the cops."
Nandaa is intrigued by the crime thriller genre. "Doing it as a web series gives us the scope to go into details of the plot and that's something that we cannot do in films. The police force has several departments such as forensic, for instance. How they work hand in hand is something we have explored in this series," says the actor who also talks about the use of Thirukkural in the series. "The Thirukkural part was the one that got me hooked to the story. At a time where the need to talk about our language is necessary, I liked how it was linked into the script."
Abhirami says she was impressed by the director. "I know that the character I am playing doesn't have much screen space in this season but it develops into a bigger one," says the ex-Bigg Boss contestant who feels Iru Dhuruvam's Geetha is completely different from who she is in real life. "She is a mature person who is a wife and a mother compared to the carefree person I am. I have never had a romance angle to the characters I have done before; so that was new as well."
On the topic of casting, Kumaran says that he was glad that Nandaa could come on board. "My script demands a mature hero and I loved the subtlety that Nandaa sir showed in Eeram. He was impressed with the content and we worked on it as a feature film. Then the production house wanted it to be a series and we had to tweak it," says the director. "It also came with its own set of challenges as the attention span is high for a film when compared to a series that can be seen on the phone. Moreover, a thriller will only attract youngsters. I needed a little bit of everything to make this series something an entire family can enjoy." Nandaa says he was bored of cop roles and wanted to do something different because "I have already done it in a couple of films. We consciously worked on a new look because even if the content is in Tamil, it's getting launched on an international platform. People from any corner of the world can watch it with subtitles." Meanwhile, Kumaran confirms that the series might lead to more seasons. "We have an idea for a second season and the twist at the end of season one will give the necessary lead as well. The available episodes will definitely make way to a lot of questions which will be answered in the next season."
Speaking about the reach of OTT platforms now, Nandaa says, "The span and the budget are almost the same as making a feature film. We shot for 47 days actually. Films will make the audience sit through at least till the intermission, but on a phone, we should give them a reason to watch the next episode. I am seeing it as a parallel platform. The trailer of Iru Dhuruvam has crossed a million views already, so the opening is there as well." Abhirami also agrees with it. "There's also the scope and reach which I figured from my first series -- Ctrl Alt Del -- following which I got noticed and got invited for auditions."
Kumaran gets technical while speaking about the differences between the platforms. "The one difference I saw while doing this is unlike films, we work majorly with corporates in the OTT sector. Everything goes through e-mails and surprisingly, the communications happen faster than what you would expect." He also adds that the struggles of making a film are real. "Being from a middle-class family, I could not do short films to prove my mettle. So I had to show what all I have got in this series which has given me a platform to showcase my prowess. Now, I will be able to pitch to do feature films."
Abhirami too has her bit to add about the difficult road she has taken. "I faced the obstacles of doing auditions and waited for the result only for them to get back to me saying that they went with a known face," says the actor who also adds that Nerkonda Paarvai, in which she played a pivotal role, is a turning point in her career. "It was a huge leap and an opportunity that came to me without any struggle. I can only thank god, Vinod sir, Boney sir, Yuvan sir and of course, Thala. I recently celebrated the 50th day celebration at a theatre and I still can't believe that I am part of such a huge success."