For director N Kalyanakrishnan, his upcoming film, Agilan, starring Jayam Ravi is like a homecoming of sorts. An erstwhile assistant of SP Jhananathan, one of Kalyanakrishnan's earliest works was Iyarkai, which was set in the harbour. His first acquaintance with Jayam Ravi was in Jhananathan's Peraanmai, and Kalyanakrishnan made his directorial debut with the Jayam Ravi-starrer Bhooloham. Now, he is back with Agilan, which stars Jayam Ravi and is set in a harbour. However, despite this, Kalyanakrishnan asserts that Agilan will be a novel setting, and have a fresh character arc for Jayam Ravi, who plays a person with grey shades.
“Actually, Agilan explores what is gray in the first place. Who decides what is gray? What are the different perspectives surrounding right and wrong?" asks the filmmaker, who believes having a flawed protagonist normalises character blemishes in a person. “That is exactly what I have discussed in the film. The song Dhrogam will explore this theme.”
Tracing the origins of Agilan, Kalyanakrishnan shares that the one-liner of the film was narrated to Ravi on the sets of Bhooloham. However, other commitments came in the way of bringing this vision to the screen. With Agilan starring Jayam Ravi, who recently delivered an industry hit in the form of Ponniyin Selvan, did Kalyanakrishnan have to change the script to accommodate his stardom? "Honestly, whatever heroic elements are included in the screenplay come from my own vision. I would have done it for any other actor too," says the filmmaker, who reiterates his love for doing proper heroism-based dramas. "Harbour is a place where the labourers are mostly men. About 70-80 per cent of this film is male-oriented. Priya Bhavanishankar plays a cop, but she has limited screen time," reveals the filmmaker.
Speaking about the influence of Jhananthan in his films, Kalyanakrishnan says, “Jana sir’s thought process will forever carry value. His philosophies and politics were life lessons for me. Jana sir came to cinema to talk about his politics, but I came to make films, and yet I am influenced by his ideas. But I do have a clear understanding of the difference between politics and social issues. I am not here to talk politics.”
Comparing the harbours of Iyarkai and Agilan, Kalyanakrishnan says, "I have worked as a writer in Iyarkai, and of course, Agilan is all mine. But both films are completely different. While the harbour was just a setting in Iyarkai, it is a character in Agilan." The filmmaker reveals that sketching this character was anything but a walk in the harbour. “The screenplay was hard to execute. It was an enormous canvas, but with the team's support, we could pull it off. Though the story is centred around a harbour, we didn't want to go with the usual gangster drama. There is a nice social message in the film, which you will get to know from March 10, but the bottom line of all my films has been the same... deliver quality entertainment," signs off a confident Kalyanakrishnan.