It was a gloomy day in Chennai. Odds were against the director and his team. The film was tagged as another horror film before the release. And much to the dismay, it was a season of web series. Not many good films around in theatre. so no good reason for the public to come and visit the theatres.
The first two shows ( morning and evening) showed poor results. No crowd whatsoever.
Even the Director was quite apprehensive, but nevertheless confident in the output. He firmly believed that his movie can greatly entertain the family crowd.
The team waited eagerly for the day’s record.
But before that, Good times seemed to start for the Director and his team. Social media was flooded with positive statuses on the film.
The evening shows showed almost full house.
The night shows were houseful.
The weekend showed clear Results. Maragatha Naanayam is the best entertainer of this year.
Director ARK Saravanan is a simple man. He confesses that he didn’t even look into technical aspects such as lensing, but strongly believes in one thing. The Story!
He says that a good one-line will naturally grow on its own. “You don’t have to really bother about it. Because it is a gift and delivering an output like a quality family entertainer is more than a gift. Because it not only saves the producer, but it is a win-win for everyone, even the audience. The moment when you feel five to six tickets getting booked at once, that is indescribable.”
ARK also believes in friendship. Working as associates in Indru Netru Naalai and Mundasupatti, both of the directors who were like kith and kin to him and that’s when ARK groomed as a filmmmaker. But in a strategic sense, this is a great tactic. Infact Ram and Ravi, the Directors of the above said films worked even in Maragatha Naanayam. So this is like, even one of the directors is having a hard patch, the other two can keep the third going. But for ARK, Friendship is all about trust. He says he didn’t see the monitor during the shoot. His DOP Shankar even has a director within him. The film was shot in Red Dragon. but that’s the only tech spec ARK bothered about. On the contrary, we have many upcoming directors, who are so strong in Technique, But Ark knows just one thing too well. He knows how to carve a sensible story from a simple line. And he uses more of brain than heart. In other words more rational thinking than emotional thinking.
Consider for example how Maragatha Naanyam came up in existence. It was from a simple one-line, of how a man buried came-up in life because he was never dead.
This short news from a newspaper somehow set up ARK for the big task. He thought okay, lets say, a Ghost come up from the grave. And it comes for like to get something big, something that is really valuable, we will keep it as once lost-found -lost Emerald and just one ghost is not enough. He needs a team of ghosts to help with the act. And all of them being male, no that won’t be enticing. You need someone from the other sex. But here’s the catch. The girl will have a male voice, some voice that’s so cult. Let’s get the voice from Kaali brother. And also You need someone who initiated all the ghosts. Okay so this is where the Hero works as a small time smuggler. But wait, we need a villain to take the blame in the end, a villain who is as big as the king himself but as comic as the main ghost.
ARK wrote the entire script keeping two actors in mind. Anandhraj and Munishkanth. He knew them so well, only things that they were comfortable and able to pull of were included.
The total shoot span was 46 days, many a times, the team would be behind the schedule, but producer Dilli Babu was so helpful that tough scenes such as Chasing by the lorry was given at most care and attention.
Speaking about Lorry, Director ARK says that it was inspired from English films but it was so organic that it wont look like it is forced. But yes, this was a kind of an horror film. “You must have the seen the ghost from TV ( Yaavarum Nalam), Marma Desam had horse. So Lorry was picked up with one main reason being the sound. The sound of the lorry in Atmos will elevate the experience to a different level. And lorry is bigger than cars, so again it is going to keep the antagonist on a higher level”
Though the film had the elements of an horror film, Maragatha Naanayam was not an horror film, it is a fantasy flick made for kids. But The team couldn’t able to market it as a fantasy genre, because they could not reveal certain novel elements such as the voice of Nikki Galrani and the ghosts coming out of the grave. These are awe elements that has to be revealed only when the viewer watches the whole film. A part of the initial low response is also due to this factor. Maragatha Naanayam was seen as another horror movie. But once the early birds got into the theatre, the Director was sure, he had struck Gold with the Emerald.
ARK as said earlier is a simple man, someone who gives more weightage to mind than heart. but ARK confesses that the scene where Munishkanth departs from the protagonists, he had somewhat become more emotional with the script.
Ark also believes in writing scenes. “Don’t just have a scene for the sake of it. Every scene should have been placed with purpose.” He quotes Director Shankars’ films for inspiration. Every scene should also have an element of surprise.
ARK was even called for web series. He was called for some 10 episodes of 20 minutes each. But he is quite apprehensive about how will fit in the new format. But he also says web series is the future here. Though his forte as of now will be films.
Before ARK Departs, He wants to give one advice to the film aspirants. “If you have a low production fund, concentrate on the jokes, use it as a strategy to pull of an appreciable content. Nothing works like Jokes.” He attributes the sensible dialogues to his friend and writer Rakesh Kannan.
It was again a gloomy day when we went to interview ARK, a day definitely not conducive for working. Especially when you have accomplished something, you have got to be on your bed. But ARK is into his next, largely banking on his indigenous and native creativity, something not urban but fresh and innocent. ARK has certainly no reason to stay idle.