A film beautiful in every aspect of its execution, Aruvi is a movie like none other. The music, the characters, the emotions, they are all soulful renditions.
Aruvi arrived with very little fanfare and speculation, but has taken the Tamil film industry by storm leaving indelible marks in the minds of many film lovers. Applauded by the stalwarts of the industry, Aruvi has been in the news for all the right reasons.
The brain behind the movie, debutant director Arun Prabhu Purushothaman has been caught in a whirlwind of adulation ever since the movie’s release. Unlike the movie’s titular character, Aruvi, Arun Prabhu is a soft-spoken man with an air of seriousness and humility around him. Speaking to TNM in an exclusive interview, Arun Prabhu walks us through the creative process, his thoughts on cinema and his respect for the art.
The movie has been in the pipeline for two years. What caused the delay?
I first wrote the story in 2013. The film was completed by 2015. But we wanted to screen the movie in film festivals first. A movie loses its eligibility in some film festivals after theatrical release. So you could say the delay was intentional. But there were also additional setbacks in order to accommodate big releases.
What made you choose such a dense subject for your debut movie?
I didn’t set out to do a heavy, heart-wrenching subject in mind. But as the story evolved it took this shape. Whatever treatment the movie got, it was because the subject demanded it. There’s no forceful addition of any element.
Why particularly HIV? What inspired you?
When I was in college, I had done a lot of research on HIV patients. I guess the impact always stayed with me. I wrote the story in 2013, when the topic was in a lot of discussion. After writing the story, I got in touch with PLHIV to hear their stories. The inspiration came later after I heard the stories. I wanted the story to be as close to reality as possible.
If you had to give a genre to Aruvi, what would it be?
Much like the character Aruvi, the movie can’t be pigeonholed into a single genre. I wanted the movie to cater to all types of audience. Different people come looking for different things. I want to do justice to all their expectations. I learnt from director K.S.Ravikumar to be concerned about the audience. My concern for the audience helped me create the movie the way I did.
Each one of the characters in the movie was memorable in their own way. How did you manage to achieve that?
No character in my movie is less significant than the other. They are all my creations. I can’t prioritise one over the other. I give the same level of attention to all my characters, be it the protagonist or someone who is doing a background role in the movie. I am equally concerned for all the characters in the movie.
Why did you particularly choose the setting of a reality show to propel the story forward? Was it merely playing to the gallery?
When I wrote the story in 2013, there was a growing popularity of reality shows. People were slowly shifting from television dramas to reality shows. I was influenced by that. After doing a bit of research, I became aware of the functioning of such shows.
When I was in college, I was taught a lot about media theories, the importance of human values and humanity in media. But it was not the case in reality. It was rather disenchanting to see that. My disenchantment spilled over into the movie as well.
Were you expecting the flak received for some of the statements made in the movie?
No, not really. I wasn’t interested in doing any intentional bashing. When I create my characters, I have no preoccupations. The characters evolve of their own volition. For example, when one of my characters made a statement about Vijay, it wasn’t a reflection of my thoughts. They were simply contextual in line with the character’s evolution.
None of the statements made in the movie are personal. Every character has a back story prompting him to do or say the things he did.
Do you think cinema has a responsibility to the society?
Yes. I strongly believe the film industry has a responsibility to the society. This is an industry which is entirely dependent on people. We make movies for the people. We certainly have a level of responsibility to them in the content we are creating.
Was it intentional to have an all new cast?
It wasn't really intentional. We did approach a few existing heroines in the industry to essay the role of Aruvi. But they refused to take up such a heavy role. Then we started auditioning and it just so happened that the entire cast was newcomers. In a way, that contributed to the success of the movie since everyone was able to give their fullest to the project as they didn't have any prior commitments.