Why did you choose cinema? What made you a writer and director?
As a kid, I wasn’t allowed to watch films at home, but I was more into reading fictional books. I started to write short stories as a way to express my creative side. Over time, I added a visual medium to my storytelling and that’s how I made my first short film. From there, it was developed into making films.

How do you prepare yourself before every film?
For writing, I read quite a few books depending on the story that I am working on. I read a lot of books that kind of come under the theme, that explore the concept because of a particular subject. For direction, I look at a lot of photographs. I like looking at images, photographs and paintings just to get visual inspiration and just to crack how the look of the film can be.

Nayanthara’s first solo hit was Maya, which was your first film. Was there any pressure to set the same standard, or were you confident she could carry a film entirely on her own?
When I start a new film I usually don’t think about what I have done before or what I need to do to make a film better than the previous work. Every film stands on its own and that’s how I look at it. So, when I made Connect, the main objective, or rather, our particular approach to work was just to make an effective film that kind of tells that particular story the best way possible.

And your films have female protagonists. Even though these aren’t the conscious characters you pick… how do you feel making women-centric films?
I don’t think they should be called women-centric films because we don’t call films with male stars male-centric films. I think this tag needs to go away and I don’t believe in such tags or names. I think they should be called just ‘films’.

Connect also has Anupam Kher and Sathyaraj. How do you manage to pull it off with such a huge star cast?
I think it’s definitely the actors being open to trying new roles and also the production backing me up to approach such actors and pitch the story to them, being able to offer them stars, because they invariably come with a price tag because of the immense value they add to the film. If I am willing to work with them, it doesn’t concern me, it should invariably involve the production, who should pay and accommodate them into the film’s budget. I think, with respect to that, I am really lucky to work with a production company who really understood the requirements.

This is your second film with Nayanthara and she recently got married to the well-known director from the industry, Vignesh Shivan. How was the working experience with the duo?
I met Producer Vignesh Shivan while narrating the script to Nayanthara and he told me, “Just make a film as much as you can and that’s all.” After the film was complete, he came for the film’s screening and that is when we met again and we spoke about the film. He was never involved in the process because, as a filmmaker himself, he gave me the space to just go and make a film I wanted to make.

CONNECT: A NO-INTERMISSION FILM. What made you do such an experiment?
There are two aspects to watching films in theatres. One is the kind of film where you enjoy the first half, second half and you enjoy the midpoint, which is dictated by the story itself and there are other aspects to the film-going experience where you watch short films, 90-95-minute films. When you watch such films, you don’t want to be interrupted because the experience itself is so intense and short that you want to experience it at one stretch. When we watch the film with the production company, they think that the film works without an intermission because when they watch, they watch it without an intermission. That is the kind of experience we would like to share with the audience.

Connect was co-written by Kaavya Ramkumar who was previously partnered up with you in Game Over. How was the experience working with her?
Kaavya is my partner and she has co-written two films with me and you have the level of understanding and the comfort you don’t share with other people, obviously. So, for me, I feel like when I collaborate with Kaavya, I am in a safe space. We can feel it even if there are bad areas and it feels okay as if we are going to be judged. If you feel like you are in a safe space while working in a creative environment, you are more likely to come up with interesting ideas because you don’t feel judged, you don’t feel like people are going to make fun of me. Only you feel that way. I think you create better things, you create interesting things.

Your thoughts about co-writing?
Basically, what I do in every stage of the filmmaking process is collaborate with other people. Writing is an important process in filmmaking and when I collaborate with other people, other writers and other artists, what happens is that my worldview and my perspective, my thoughts get challenged and I kind of start thinking in a slightly different way. It helps you grow as a writer, it helps you grow as an artist, when you work with other people and kind of understand where they come from and try to find the middle ground while working for them. It becomes interesting for you personally, you can learn so much from the other person. My primary joy that I can get out of collaboration is that I can learn so much.

How was the lockdown for you in general?
Lockdown was very emotional for me and I was processing a lot of anxiety and hopelessness about the future. I was worried for my family, my loved ones and friends. For me, it was an emotionally draining period and that was one of the reasons why I wanted to make a film like Connect in the first place, to address the emotions I felt during that period.

How much are you related to the characters you create?
I think they are the manifestations of me or the co-writer I work with, because whenever you write a film character, invariably they represent different parts of yourself and whatever emotions that you are feeling at one point in your life invariably gets translated or it’s communicated through them. So whenever I finish a film, I look back and kind of try to understand why I wrote this particular character and I see a lot of similarities with the people that I have either seen or interacted with or close with. I think it’s a very subconscious process. When you write, you don’t realise it. But when you finish a film and look at the film you can understand how those characters are very close to the people that you are with in your life.

Can we expect a romantic film from you?
Sure, why not? I have ideas from other genres too. I like telling love stories, so hopefully, someday, it will definitely happen.

One message you always wanted to give to your audience?
Come with an open mind. Whenever you come for my film or anybody’s film, come with an open mind, because I feel you will have a much better experience and you can feel like anything is possible. Just don’t come in wanting to judge the film or your friends suggesting saying that this film is really good. I think you can make a judgement of your own after watching it and experiencing it. I think it is an essential aspect of going to a film and watching films on the big screen, having that experience and carrying it with me.


What would be your field if you didn’t come to cinema?

Who is your inspiration?
List keeps growing everyday.

Who is your greatest support?

Favourite music genre?
Western classic.

Favourite travel destination?

Favourite director of all time?
David Fincher.

Favourite field to work?
Sound design.

One quote that describes you.
This too shall pass.

What’s next?