Even a security guard didn’t want to let Ashok onto the sets of ‘Kootathil Oruthan’, the film he’s starring in.

Thrilled nobody at TN college recognised me Kootathil Oruvan actor Ashok Selvan
news Tamil Cinema Wednesday, July 19, 2017 - 15:59

With three movies as a star under his belt, actor Ashok Selvan isn’t exactly an unknown face in Kollywood. The hero of films like Pizza 2 and Thegidi, you would expect his ego to take a beating when he walks through the Vellore Institute of Technology, and not one of the hundreds of students who see him, recognise who he is.

Add to that the fact that a security guard was not even willing to let him walk onto the sets of his upcoming film, Kootathil Oruthan, and you’d expect him to be throwing a fit.

But Ashok is just overjoyed at how well his new avatar works. "This entire experience was so new and it really helped me understand my character," he says.

Directed by TJ Gnanavel, Kootathil Oruthan tells the story of Aravind, a typical middle-bencher in an engineering college – a boy who has always been too average to be noticed.

So, you have Ashok dressed in an insipid checked shirt, with oversized glasses, oily hair and a neatly combed mustache – looking like someone you’d forget two seconds after you met him.    

That’s exactly what happens in one of the pivotal scenes of the film, where Aravind confesses his love to his classmate, played by Priya Anand.

“Priya doesn't even recognise the hero when he proposes to her despite the both of them studying in the same class. He is this invisible person that gets no attention. So, we had to really focus on how we made him look. He can't look smart or stylish. We picked the most boring choice of clothes and accessories,” says Ashok.

So how did they arrive at such a boring look? Ashok grins as he explains how they put the look together by taking bits from various crew members. “We took the idea for the shirts from a camera man and the slippers from the Associate Director."

And the trademark glasses?

"Well the glasses and the rudraksh are from the Music Director Nivas Prasanna," laughs Ashok, and quickly clarifies that he isn’t calling Nivas unnoticeable. "No, just the things he wears," he adds, grinning. 

His wardrobe choices aside, 27-year-old Nivas, has already grabbed a lot of attention for himself and the movie. One of the songs he wrote for the film, 'Enda Ippidi', is already earworm its way among fans, getting that little extra bit of magic thanks to SP Balasubramanian’s trademark voice. 

"I had singers like Naresh sing it first and even I gave it a go. But something was missing," says Nivas. "That is when we approached SPB and when he sang the song in our studio two days later, it all just fell in place," explains Nivas. 

For Nivas, composing music for the film was an emotional experience. The deeper he went into the process, the more he began to connect with the character.

"Even when I was reading the script, it felt like I was travelling with the character. So many of the scenes resembled experiences in my life," says Nivas.

But that didn’t mean the writing process was easy. "It was a challenging task because, while the incidents come across as funny to the audience, you can't forget that there is a deep-seated depression that the character carries. That had to come through in the music," he explains. 

So, was Nivas a middle bencher in college?

"Not at all," he says. "Being able to sing and play instruments makes you rather popular," he adds laughing. 

It wasn’t just Nivas who connected so strongly with the protagonist of the film. As different as Aravind might be from Ashok, the character resonated perfectly with the actor, at a time when he was on a personal low.

Explains Ashok, "There is a scene in the film when the hero just lashes out. He has a five-minute dialogue where he asks 'Have you ever been amongst 100 people but felt alone?'. As I began this scene I got lost in the words. Tears naturally filled my eyes and at that point it felt like I had fused with the role I was playing. As an actor, I have never been felt myself sink so far into a character as I did that day. It was unforgettable."

Both the star and music director point out that the protagonist's pains are problems that everyone has faced at some point in their lives.

"People who have watched the movie have said that I have done a great job and I want to believe them with all my heart," says Ashok.

Nivas says Ashok has no reason not to believe. "The script was really appealing and Ashok has done justice to the storyline and the music," he says.  

He adds that the film has turned out as well as it did because of the creative freedom within the team. "There was always room for discussion. In one sad scene, the Director wanted me to use a dozen violins but I refused. I wanted to be more subtle."

How many did he actually use? "I used one," he says sheepishly.

For the young music director, a line of films await including Kumki 2 and Sethupathy 2. But there’s one major star he says he really wants to score music for someday, "Ajith. I am a huge fan."

Ashok meanwhile has signed up for films with Director Priyadarshan and Anandha Krishnan. "I am shooting an action film and it is really a lot of fun. I enjoy doing the stunts," he says.

Kootathil Oruthan is scheduled for release on July 28.