Varalaxmi Sarathkumar to play lead in Manojkumar Natarajan's directorial debut Velvet Nagaram

Surendhar MK

April 20, 2018 11:22:00 IST

Although Varalaxmi Sarathkumar has a promising slate with films such as Thalapathy 62 and Sandakozhi 2 – where she reportedly plays negative roles – Mr Chandramouli, Neeya 2 and Kanni Raasi, her upcoming, interestingly titled women-centric movie Velvet Nagaram has grabbed the attention of netizens.

Varalaxmi Sarathkumar. Facebook

Varalaxmi Sarathkumar. Facebook

“Initially, we wanted to make the film as a small budget indie project with not-so-familiar faces. We wanted to treat it like a web series content for digital platforms like Netflix. Over a point in time, the script evolved and the project gradually matured after I got to meet my friend Arun Karthick who is now producing the film under the banner Makers Studios,” Manojkumar Natarajan, who is making his directorial debut through Velvet Nagaram, told Firstpost in an exclusive conversation.

Manoj said the scale of the film has now transformed into a proper mainstream project. “After Varalaxmi came on board, the movie has become bigger now. I got introduced to Varu for my another script, which couldn’t materialise. But when I narrated her the story of Velvet Nagaram, she immediately gave her nod. She expressed her willingness to come on board 15 minutes into the narration,” he said.

Spilling beans about the film’s premise, Manoj revealed, “The story of the film revolves around an investigative journalist who has a masculine swagger to her cause. Varu will be seen playing the role of a bold and determined journalist. There are only a handful of actresses in Tamil who could suit this role and Varu is, undoubtedly, the best fit. She will uncover the atrocities meted out to tribes from Kodaikanal and fights for their justice. The film is based on real life incidents that happened in Kodaikanal.”

Producer Arun Karthick, an architect by profession, is venturing into film production for the first time through Velvet Nagaram. When asked him about his decision to take the plunge into production considering it’s a risky business, Arun said, “Manoj’s narration was the first time I had listened to a script. I had the utmost confidence in him to pull off this project, having known him for quite some time. Beyond the fact that the story is a female-centric one, it’s more important as to how it pans out in the screenplay. The story of the film happens in two days. In Manoj’s narration, I could visualise how pacy the events could be and how many unexpected situations could coincidentally arise in the 48 hours.”

Manoj said he has already completed nearly 70 percent of the shooting and is waiting to get back on sets to resume the next schedule. About the film’s genre, he said, “It’s proper thriller drama with elements of action. The action scenes will not be over-the-top but situational and quite realistic. Varu has an action sequence too and I promise you that it won’t feature any old-fashioned, gravity-defying stunts.”

Arun Karthick said they are tentatively planning to release the film in the second half of this year. “Initially, I just wanted to visit the shooting spot on the first day. But the shooting process was quite fascinating and I started going to the sets every day. A lot of lengthy shots feature in the film and it was an absorbing experience for me,” he said.

Despite the fact that project has got bigger in production, Manoj said they have meticulously worked on the pre-production to restrain from budget overshoot. “From the beginning, we were conscious about not overshooting the budget. So far, we have shot for 13 days only and have completed close to 70 percent of the shoot. We would need a maximum of two weeks time to wrap up the complete project. We have reduced the number of shooting days with proper planning and organized shooting schedule,” Manoj said.

Showering lavish praise about his working experience with Varalaxmi, Manoj said, “Varalaxmi is the most professional artist I’ve seen. When we need her at 6’o clock, she would be readily present with the makeup at the same time. She was very cooperative and sportive. We had to shoot a lengthy take for a one and a half days, and she was there on set without making any fuss. She had never interfered in my creative space too since I’m a debutant and would often come up with constructive suggestions. She never treated me a first-time filmmaker. She would always cheer me up with encouraging words. She was very collaborative with all the supporting actors, and I had a harmonious relationship working with her.”

Ramesh Thilak, Prakash Raghavan of Dhruvangal 16-fame, and Arjai play important roles in the film. Supersinger-fame Malavika Sundar plays Varalaxmi’s close friend.

Varalaxmi is currently waiting for the release of crime thriller Echarikkai, directed by Sarjun KM, a short film sensation who rose to fame through his works such as Maa and Lakshmi.

Updated Date: Apr 20, 2018 11:22 AM