Seema Raja director Ponram on working with Sivakarthikeyan: Changed film's climax to suit his image
Ponram talks about his longstanding professional relationship with Sivakarthikeyan, and casting Nayanthara opposite him for the first time.
If there is one filmmaker who has played a significant role in elevating Sivakarthikeyan as the most bankable box office star in Kollywood, it is undoubtedly Ponram.
After making his directorial debut through Sivakarthikeyan-starrer super hit comedy entertainer Varuthapadatha Vaalibar Sangam, Ponram delivered another blockbuster with the star in Rajini Murugan, which was one of the few films to rake in the moolah at the ticket window despite facing multiple production delays before it saw the light of day in January 2016 during the Pongal festival. Now, the duo has joined forces for Seema Raja, which marks Ponram's third consecutive film for Siva, and is all set to hit screens on 13 September for the Vinayagar Chaturthi festival weekend worldwide.
Talking to Firstpost in an exclusive chat, Ponram said, "I conceived the story of Seema Raja when I was hunting locations for Rajini Murugan. I realised that the Zamindars are often showed in a bad light in our Tamil cinema. So, Seema Raja will be different from such films."
"After multiple collaborations with Sivakarthikeyan, there's a growing bond between us. Be it him or I, we now don't have any second thoughts in expressing our views," said Ponram, adding that their rapport has become very healthy now. "There is a mass factor for Sivakarthikeyan in Seema Raja unlike my previous films with him. I have even kept a mass introduction song for him. I wanted a song on the lines of Ilayaraja sir's 'Raajavukku Raaja Naan Thaan', and Imman delivered it with 'Vaaren Vaaren Seema Raja', which is doing extremely well on YouTube."
Ponram assures that the comedy factor, which was the major selling point in his previous hits, will be intact in Seema Raja too. "Despite a few mass elements, we have not compromised on our strength which is the comical track. We have balanced out romance, humor and action effectively. The only restriction I have with Siva is that he has got more family audiences and we had to take care of certain things to suit the kids and families," said Ponram.
All three films of Ponram are set in the backdrop of a village, including Seema Raja. "I want to try different scripts. It's not that I always want to stick with village-based stories. When I think I'm done with this genre and got bored of it, then I'll probably attempt something new. Just like the 15-minute-long flashback period portion in Seema Raja. This climax portion was needed for the script, and we wanted to make it the best," he explains.
Yesteryear actress Simran plays the antagonist role in the film, which is produced by RD Raja's 24AM Studios. "Simran has a critical role in the film. I wrote the character Kaleeshwari with only her in mind. She initially had some apprehensions about doing a negative role, but eventually, she agreed. Her boldness and attitude will impress the audience. Her role is inspired by a real-life character I have come across in my village," revealed Ponram.
A film based on honour killing was prone to be preachy and gory but his debut film Varuthapadatha Valibar Sangam had an unlikely treatment for a comedy drama. Asked about pulling off such a story without any caste reference, Ponram says, "Though I tried to put forth the social injustices prevailing in a particular caste or region, I never wanted to use any direct caste references. Instead, I chose to imply using their customs, tradition, and accent indirectly because theatres and movies are not for any particular section of the audience. Initially, the film had a different climax, but I changed it to suit Sivakarthikeyan's image."
Talking about his experience as an assistant director and working with SA Chandrasekhar, Ponram said, "SAC sir is my guru; when I wanted to join as his assistant director, all he asked was my punctuality. He said that a skillful person will still lag behind a novice if he was not punctual because the opportunity always goes to the one who is prompt."
Samantha Ruth Prabhu will have two releases this week with U-Turn and Seema Raja, where she is paired opposite Sivakarthikeyan for the first time. "Samantha learned Silambam for this film. She would send me photographs of her sore and wounded hands after training. She really liked the art and didn't want to use a body double. Unfortunately, we shot her Silambam portions very late and she had to undergo her training again," said Ponram.
Also starring Soori, Napoleon, Lal and Manobala in important roles, Seema Raja has music composed by D Imman.
Actor Akshay Kumar calls his upcoming film educational and says it should be shown in schools.
"Excited to be in a film that's the antithesis of testosterone-fuelled cinema," Ranveer on his upcoming film 'Jayeshbhai Jordaar'.
Deepika Padukone heads to Cannes Film Festival to represent India as a jury member. Have a look.