TNM caught up with the director whose next project, touted to be India’s first space film, releases this Friday.

Tik Tik Tik cast was chosen for endurance level not star power Director ShaktiFacebook: Jayam Ravi
Flix Kollywood Tuesday, June 19, 2018 - 18:24

After making his debut with Naanayam, director Shakti Soundar Rajan changed focus to a dog-action thriller in Naaigal Jaakirathai, which turned out to be a successful venture for actor Sibiraj. Up next was Miruthan, which introduced the concept of zombies to Tamil cinema. And with his Tik Tik Tik coming out this Friday, Shakti brings yet another novel concept to Kollywood – space films.

TNM caught up with the director during a tea break as he checked the final prints.

After Shakti completed Miruthan with Jayam Ravi, talks about Miruthan 2 had surfaced. Reports indicated that the sequel would be a superhero film too, but little did we know that it was going to be a stride into untouched territories – a genuine space adventure.

Giving us a sneak peek into the birth of the project, Shakti says, “I had narrated the one-liner to Jayam Ravi two weeks after the release of Miruthan. He immediately agreed to do the film and asked me to begin work in the background. Two months later, Jhabak came on board and only then did we start working on the final script. It took 8 months for us to lock it down, but I’m glad it happened.”

Comparisons to Hollywood films

When it comes to a space film, comparisons to Hollywood blockbusters are inevitable. Films like Interstellar, Gravity and Apollo 13 have been strongly etched into the minds of movie buffs, who will not lose an opportunity to point out if something didn’t work.

Shakti agrees, saying, “If you take the list of original space films (without fantasy) round the world, it’s hard to name even ten. Ridley Scott, before making Prometheus, stated that no director who has made a space film has ever made a second one. The genre is a tough nut to crack, even in Hollywood. In my case, the plot is extremely simple. Writing the whole script was the actual challenge, especially when we were trying to fit it into the commercial format.”

Shakti also agrees that Hollywood audiences have better knowledge of thought process and aesthetics, so when it comes to making a Tamil film in such a risky space, the line between spoon-feeding and premise education becomes very thin. So how does one bring such a film to an audience who sometimes may not even understand the contextual meaning of the word ‘space’?

“We were very clear that we are not going to make a masala entertainer. There’s no romance in the film, we didn’t need a dance master either. Our focus was to avoid any lagging moments and present a clean and pure single-genre space film that’s damn interesting to watch. If people are able to connect emotionally, they won’t even care where it’s happening. I think everything else automatically falls into place,” he remarks.

Picking the right actors

The director has an interesting angle when he speaks about the cast of the film. When it would be easy to pick actors for a regular potboiler, what kind of parameters does one set for a film like this?

Shakti explains, “This was not about star power and reach. It was clearly about how much they could endure, whether they could go through the physical strain of the film. Nivetha, being a martial artist with a black belt in Taekwondo, was exactly what we needed for the role. We could have cast more popular faces, but I was doubtful of their commitment. I wanted Tik Tik Tik to be at the top of the priority list for every artist involved in the film. That was my criteria.”

Budget

A project like Tik Tik Tik would require a Hollywood range budget, but Shakti didn’t have that cushion.

Ask him about the challenges of making the film within the available budget and he replies without complaining, “I made sure beforehand that we had the budget for whatever was required. We compromised on other things, avoiding stuff that we don’t need in the film. In addition, we shot quickly and made maximum use of call sheets as possible. We have 85 minutes of CGI in the film, we spared no expense on that. To cut down on costs, we put in physical sets and used minimum green mat technology.”

Introducing Jayam Ravi’s son Aarav

Tik Tik Tik also marks the debut of actor Jayam Ravi’s little son Aarav Ravi as a child artist. According to Shakti, the film dwells on the bond between father and son, as presented in the hit track ‘Kurumba’.

“Firstly, I was very happy that Ravi sir had no qualms on playing a father. We auditioned a lot of kids, the young ones weren’t able to perform and in the older ones, there was something missing. I really pushed it on Ravi sir and his wife, they were worried that it would affect his studies. Ultimately, we made it happen by shooting on weekends and off days. We shot a lot of double call sheets, but this kid never got tired. He’s such a natural. I don’t know what they told him at home, but they did a great job.”

With such a varied pick of genres in his career so far, it’s interesting to ask Shakti about his ideas and goals for the future.

The director says, “I want all my films to be a complete audio-visual experience, something that should be seen in theatres. When people look at the poster of my film, they shouldn’t think of waiting and seeing it on TV or downloading it. Big-screen-worthy is my primary idea.”

Even before the release of the film, Shakti proudly says that he has decided what he is going to do next. “It is going to be bigger and much more extravagant than Tik Tik Tik. I’m just doing the back-end work right now, it will take time,” he says.

Despite a long delay, the buzz about Tik Tik Tik is still positive. At a favourable runtime of 2 hours and 11 minutes, the film seems like a great launch-pad into a genre less trodden in Tamil cinema.

Also read: Watch: Promo of Jayam Ravi's space thriller 'Tik Tik Tik'

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