Kuruthi Aattam is an important film for actor Atharvaa and director Sri Ganesh. Atharvaa, who exhibited his potential with Bala’s Pardesi (2013), is yet to get a breakthrough. On the other hand, Sri Ganesh, who made a solid debut with 8 Thottakal in 2017, went under the radar for the past five years. And, undoubtedly, a lot of hopes have been pinned on Kuruthi Aattam. Yet, when I sat down for an interview with the duo, they seemed calm and composed.
Here are excerpts from the interview:
What do you think is the USP of Kuruthi Aattam?
atharvaa: To be frank, I took the film because of Sri Ganesh’s first film, 8 Thottakal. What a movie! I trusted the director and when he told me the script of Kuruthi Aattam, a gangster story set in Madurai, I was convinced. Coming to the film’s USP, all the characters in the film are complex. They aren’t one-dimensional. There’s no villain in the film. Even the seemingly negative guy has his justification. That’s the fascinating part of Kuruthi Aattam.
Sri Ganesh: I always like to make films about interesting characters. More than the narrative, I love giving depth to characters. For example, two people are fighting. I want to tell the audience where they come from and why they are doing what they do. That’s the USP of Kuruthi Aattam.
On one hand, Atharvaa moves at a steady pace doing one film at a time. Meanwhile, Sri Ganesh has taken about five years to come up with his second movie. Why such a pace?
atharvaa: Initially, I didn’t have the confidence to take up a lot at a time. Only when I worked simultaneously in Etti and Kanthian, I realized I am capable of multitasking. However, I prefer dealing with things one by one. If you have too much on the plate and things don’t turn out the way you want, it hurts.
Sri Ganesh: I did take a while for writing the script. But the delay was not due to writer’s block. A lot of things aren’t in our hands. You will get to see more of my work in the coming days.
Your character dies in your debut film Bana Kaathadi. You later did the heart-wrenching Pardesi. And in your last film, Thalli Pogathey, you end up with a broken heart. Are you into tragedies?
Atharvaa: (Laughs) This is something I keep asking myself. I was wondering if I was a sad person. Honestly, I am a very positive person. I avoid talking about anything negative and always deal with failures with hope. On the other hand, with films, the ones that stay with the audience are mostly tragedies.
At an event, Sri Ganesh said that you helped him with the script. What’s the rapport you two share?
atharvaa: I don’t think I did anything. He (Sri Ganesh) is being kind. We just discussed my character of him and some practical aspect of his actions. Honestly, it’s all him. I have no part in it. As far as our relationship goes, Sri Ganesh is a soft-spoken person and I had to be extremely careful about not hurting him with whatever I said. He chooses his words carefully, which puts the burden on us to do the same.
Being such a soft-spoken person, how do you handle the whole set during filming?
Sri Ganesh: Athravaa keeps dissing me for that (laughs). On sets, the game is different. You have to handle hundreds of people. There I will have to shout and coordinate. That’s not a problem.
Let’s talk about the title, Kuruthi Aattam (Dance of the blood). Many people are wary of blood and violence. Didn’t you think the title will keep them away from the film?
Sri Ganesh: Aiyo! When you put it like that, now I am a bit scared and worried (laughs). We were going for the excitement surrounding the words, Kuruthi Aattam. It also has another subtext. It’s about blood and family bonds. The extent a man will go for his family is another running theme here. More than violence, it has a lot to do with human emotions.
atharvaa: The film has violence but we decided not to exploit it with too much gore. Sri Ganesh told me that I want the movie to be family-friendly.
Sri Ganesh, you have an eye for talent. You introduced Aparna Balamurali to Tamil cinema. Now, she has won the National Award.
Sri Ganesh: I feel happy about that compliment. I think there’s a sort of intuition that tells me that this actor would work well for certain roles. I am so happy for Aparna, and even Manikandan, who has worked with me, has gone places. I look for a passion in people. That takes me to good talent.
So, did you find those things in Atharvaa?
Sri Ganesh: Definitely. What I love about him is that he doesn’t look at acting as a day job. He involves himself in it full-time. For a kabbadi sequence in the film, he took training in the sport by himself. He also involves himself with production aspects of the movie like poster-making.
As someone who has become a director without any backing, what advice do you have for people with such dreams?
Sri Ganesh: Grit is the only thing that has helped me sustain these five years. I keep talking about how Rahul Dravid is my inspiration (laughs). Whatever the bowlers throw at him, he just defends them no matter what. Also, one has to learn to accept rejection. I cannot expect everyone to accept my vision.