Filmmaker Selvaraghavan has collaborated with his actor-brother Dhanush in various films ever since the director’s debut in 2003 film Kadhal Kondein. In their fourth collaboration, Naane Varuvean, Dhanush plays the dual roles of Kathir and Prabhu, twins who share a troubled relationship. In a conversation with Krishna, the filmmaker recalls how effortlessly Dhanush was able to switch between the two roles while filming.
“He switches off and on between roles. He becomes Kathir suddenly and then switches off and then goes off to read a novel the next minute. I think that is a gift,” he recalls with a laugh.
Their years-long collaboration also makes it easier to work with one another, observes Selvaraghavan, who has directed Dhanush in films such as Pudhupettai (2006) and Mayakkam Enna (2011). Apart from starring in the film, Dhanush also shares writing credits for Naane Varuvean. “Since he wrote the script, he knew the basics of what was happening. There’s not a lot to say to him about a role. Since we’ve worked on many films together, he knows what I expect. But when it comes to other actors, I needed to provide a platform for them and act it out.”
It was particularly interesting to see Dhanush transform into Kathir for the role, the filmmaker says. “It was challenging to write Kathir because there was a lot to do with him. If you see the movie, you’d get it. Particularly in the second half, there were a lot of things Dhanush did for the character in terms of his body language, his way of walking and adjusting his hair, etc. it was so surprising to see him do so much to show the character in a different light. It was phenomenal to watch him as Kathir. I don’t know what his acting process is for each and every role, but I do know that he does a lot of homework.”
The film also sees the director return to a genre that remains close to him — horror. But the filmmaker in him is not drawn to the obvious elements of horror. “When it comes to horror, I really like real-life horror. When we talk about real life, there is not a scary face that frightens us, instead we get scared to go to the end of the street in the night, or we fear an ominous vibe in a room. We tried to focus on these real elements. The credit goes to the cinematographer and effects team for evoking horror,” he says, calling films such as The Exorcist (1973) and Pan's Labyrinth (2006) his bible in the genre.