Director Ashwin Saravanan Interview: Collaboration with Nayanthara was much more rewarding the second time
In an exclusive chat, director Ashwin Saravanan talks about collaborating with Nayanthara again, his film Connect, being an outsider and more.
Known for nail-biting thriller films like Game Over and Maya, director Ashwin Saravanan has reunited with Nayanthara for a horror drama Connect. In a freewheeling chat with Pinkvilla ahead of the film's release, Ashwin reveals that the idea of the story came from whatever experience he had during the lockdown. The director also talks about his own fears, being an outsider and working with Nayanthara again but this time she is also the producer for Connect.
Excerpts from the interview:
Maya was your first film and Nayanthara's first solo hit. Was there pressure to set the same benchmark or you were confident she could carry a film entirely on her shoulders?
Usually, when I start the film I start with an idea without thinking if this is going to match up my previous film work or land to a particular star. I always go by my instinct and follow what I like about that particular idea but when you pitch it to an actor like Nayanthara, she immediately responded to the idea and we wanted to make the film. We were not thinking too much about whether this is going to be bigger than my other films. We never discussed these things but focused on the material and what was exciting for us, and the film's story was very relevant to us at that time. A lot of things in the movie are what we have experienced during the lockdown.
There is no pressure or safety net, every film is new and fresh. Your responsibility is how would you make the idea better and explore it. It is a more creative challenge than logistics I think.
And your films have female protagonists
I don't consciously decide to make a movie on female stars, I just go with my idea and story. The idea came from my experience during the lockdown. I was very anxious and scared about the future and there were times I faced hopelessness about the situation and all those emotions, I wanted to put into the film. I feel horror is the best genre to explore these emotions.
Connect also has Anupam Kher, Sathyaraj
I feel blessed to have such veterans in my film and we had a blast working with them. It came from the production as they thought film can accommodate big stars and their vision for the film was much larger than my vision. It was Vignesh Shivan who suggested going with bigger actors. He said let's make the canvas of the film bigger and when I approach big actors, I'm very sceptical because they have done so much work and I was amazed by how many movies Anupam Kher has done. It was a very humbling process.
Your films have female protagonists and horror genres. Any concerns they could stereotype you?
That's definitely there but the way I work, I don't want to do things deliberately so I don't want people to stereotype me. Every writer has an area of interest that defines them. I think horror is something in my system and find it very enduring and exciting, and there's an audience for that.
Does it get difficult being an outsider?
I used to think that being an outsider will make it difficult for me and every single time, I will have to face a lot of insecurities and uncertainty in my career but what I have realised is, when you are an outsider you don't try to fit it and do your own stuff. That eventually becomes your signature and your forte in a way. There is no stake and you can take risks, there's nothing to lose. Eventually, if you have good scripts, people will work with you doesn't matter where you come from. I remember when I met Nayanthara for the first time for Maya, it was during the shooting I asked her to let's start and she didn't even ask me where are you from, or who did you work under. She listened to the story and said this is a very good script even if I don't do it, it will still work. I thought she will not do the film but fortunately, she ended up doing it but she never asked me any questions. At the end of the day, it is all based on your merit and a good script. Most of the filmmakers I know, Karthik Subbraj, and Balasubramanian are all outsiders and they did what they wanted to do. That's how the movement started in the Tamil industry it seems. We are in a wonderful phase and everybody is watching films.
This is your second film with Nayanthara
As she is also the producer, her involvement actually made it easy for me to collaborate with her. She was very concerned about every single aspect of production and there were certain scenes where she kept asking for more, like can we do another take or in a different way. I, as a director, was delighted because I was getting the good stuff. There were times when she constantly pushed herself to do some scenes better and her performance is moving this time and not because of her growth as an actor but because of my understanding of how to get performances from the actor. When I worked in Maya there were not a lot of directions, to begin with. I didn't have time to genuinely do more and sit with the actors. I finished the film in 35 days and with this film, Connect I really had time. Here, we both sat and worked on scenes and tried to find the moments that would really stick with the audience. The collaboration with her was much more rewarding the second time.
Also Read| Nayanthara Birthday: From her brief hiatus due to personal setbacks to becoming lady superstar
A post-graduate in journalism and an alumna of KC College, Khushboo, a Mumbai-based writer has a keen interest in exp...Read more