Director Mari Selvaraj speaks about the kind of film Dhanush-starrer Karnan is going to be, what he thinks of Pariyerum Perumal when he watches it now, and what exactly a lifestyle movie is, in this interview with Baradwaj Rangan in June last year. Excerpts…
Though Pariyerum Perumal was a success, did you learn anything from it? Something you might want to do differently?
I am a director now, and I look at the film from that perspective: I see a lot of faults. I was an assistant director when I made the film. Now, because I am a director, I can see faults.
When I look at it in a relaxed manner, I realize I didn’t have to try so hard to explain something; I could have just done it in one shot. Because I worked in a hurry, a few mistakes occurred. The portrayal of some characters could have been more detailed. People who had never seen life like that were impressed. But those who had experienced it first hand, they raised a few questions. For cinematic reasons, some aspects weren’t depicted.
What kind of a film is Karnan going to be?
It’s a lifestyle movie. It will be about the simple and joyful life of ordinary people, their needs, the means by which they address their needs, how they fix their problems…
What do you mean by a lifestyle movie?
There’s living in isolation, and there’s living with others. In a lifestyle film, everything experienced by a person — happiness, sorrow, jealousy, betrayal — comes together in their journey to attain something.
No one can be changed by me. People will be what they are, but the village still might require something for the greater good. Let’s say that there are four friends who live together, each with their own set of problems. But the house rent is a common problem that has to be solved by them collectively. If characters attain something by simply living their lives, I believe that’s a lifestyle movie.
I don’t damage the setup in any way. I don’t transport these characters to a different milieu. I want my characters to attain their objectives by being themselves, by following their existing lifestyle, by being rooted in their native lands.
What’s the difference between making a film with a hero like Kathir and a hero like Dhanush? Is there a difference, firstly?
Yes, there is, and in a positive way. Pariyerum Perumal was a small project, but I have greater freedom in Karnan; my thinking has broadened. I am looking at things with a bird’s eye view now. I am able to do such things because I have a complete hero with me. There’s a business around him.
So, I can wish for greater things for my film, as a creator. In Pariyerum Perumal, I had first imagined that 50 blue dogs would come running. You’d think that might be expecting too much. But, I wasn’t even able to shoot one blue dog roaming around Tirunelveli—on the flyover, the bazaar, a tea shop… I didn’t have the time, and I wasn’t able to make people understand what I wanted. In Karnan, Dhanush sir himself told me to do the film in my style. Pariyerum Perumal was also a mainstream film where I had to justify the protagonist’s character. It’s similar in Karnan.