Who else can the hero go behind if not the heroine?: 'Seema Raja' director Ponram

Speaking to TNM, the director explained what 'Seema Raja' has in store and also his views on the criticism that Sivakarthikeyan's films have received previously.
Who else can the hero go behind if not the heroine?: 'Seema Raja' director Ponram
Who else can the hero go behind if not the heroine?: 'Seema Raja' director Ponram
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Director Ponram's debut film in 2013, Varuthapadatha Valibar Sangam (VVS), starring Sivakarthikeyan in the lead worked very well for the two of them. Since then, they’ve collaborated twice.

Seema Raja, Ponram’s upcoming film starring Sivakarthikeyan and Samantha in the lead, is gearing up for a Vinayaka Chathurthi release this September 13, a date that the director is visibly excited about. TNM caught up with the director for a quick chat.

Why is Seema Raja’s release date special?

My first film, VVS too was released on Vinayaka Chathurthi. We tried doing the same for Rajini Murugan but unfortunately, that didn’t happen. I’m very happy that Seema Raja will be a Vinayaka Chathurthi release. Hopefully, this signifies that all good things lie waiting in the future.

Tell us about the film. What can the audience expect from Seema Raja?

The film is a complete family entertainer and will go very well with the festive mood. The basic idea is to keep everyone entertained. If the hero were to go to work every day that can’t be achieved, it’d become boring, wouldn’t it? So here again the hero is without any job and the film follows his encounters. Siva-Soori’s combination has worked very well. Siva’s name in the film is Raja and Soori’s name is Maths. The film is about their escapades. It’ll be fun.

So how is this different from your previous VVS and Rajini Murugan?

I’d say VVS was more of a comedy-love film and Rajini Murugan had more family sentiment. Seema Raja, in that sense, will have a stronger love angle, good dose of comedy and plenty of action.

Siva-Soori combination too has been used in your previous films...

There’s nothing very different (laughs). The scenes and the characters they meet will be different. Their equation, however, will be the same. We’ve also got multiple get-ups for the two. So that’ll be different in this film. There’s a particular interaction between the two on a terrace in this film. That defines their relationship.

Also, there’s this particular catchphrase Soori uses - ‘Asramaragaya’. This was something he kept saying in the sets. When I asked him what it meant, he said it is similar in meaning to ‘awesome’. We decided to use it in the film as well. You’ll hear this dialogue in plenty of places.

You’ve done three films with Sivakarthikeyan. Was this intentional?

I did not plan to make all my films with him in the lead. It so happens that I haven’t got the opportunity to work with another actor yet. I plan to do so very soon.

All your films too have been set in the countryside…

(Laughs) I am from the countryside. I wanted to do a mix of urban and rural-based stories. But I think I’ve been doing this quite well, so I thought I’ll continue.

Photo: Instagram/PonramVVS

Tamil cinema has plenty of rural theme based films. Who do you consider as your inspirations?

I’m a big fan of Kizhaku Seemaiyile and Devar Magan. I also love Bharathiraja, Mani Ratnam and Shankar sir’s films. Roja, Jeans, Kadhalan, Gentleman are my favourites. Even today, if I were to travel anywhere, I’d always listen to songs from Kadhalan. It is one of my most favourite films.

The film’s trailer has caused quite a stir on the Internet. The opening shot with the horses has been compared to Vijay’s Mersal and the Baahubali type ending sequence too has piqued interest. How did you plan this?

With the Baahubali scene, a small portion was required and so we’ve sequenced it in the film. We, in fact, wanted it to be a suspense but decided to launch it in the trailer. I’m sure people will enjoy it in the film.

About the comparison with Mersal, we began shooting for Seema Raja in June 2017. There was no way we could’ve copied this from them. And there’s no reason for me to copy from someone. The horses play an important role in the film and Sivakarthikeyan’s character loves his horses. He always comes in a horse-drawn chariot. The horses are named Alex and Dlex. When the comparison was being made, we considered if we should remove the scene. But then why should we, when we’ve not copied it? This was part of the original plan.

Yes, there has been a considerable delay in the film. Why so?

Certain portions in the film required time. We were not able to complete the sets on time. Then there was heavy rains, Ockhi storm and cinema strike…

Tell us about working with Simran. From the trailer it looks like she’s playing a very gutsy character.

I was initially a bit nervous, I have not worked with her before. But she was very cool and fun to work with. She’d never wait inside the caravan. With Siva and Soori around, the sets would always be fun. Simran plays a negative role in this film and she has done her part very well.

We heard Keerthy Suresh has done a cameo in this film?

Keerthy immediately agreed to the idea. It is a very small portion and she didn't even listen to the story. It was a very friendly gesture.

Tell us about Samantha’s character in Seema Raja.

Samantha’s character will be different. While narrating the story, I had told her that there’d be sequences where the heroine would have to dance to the silambam. She insisted that she do the stunts herself. She, in fact, trained in it for four months. I wanted my female lead to be able to play this ‘veera kalai’ (brave artform).

Sivakarthikeyan has been criticised in the past for promoting stalking in his films. Will Seema Raja be different?

But who else can the hero go behind if not the heroine? Also, if we’re doing a college script, it requires such sequences. Now Vijay sir might not be able to do such scenes in his films. It also has to do with the hero’s age.

Bose Pandi from VVS made a cameo in your Rajini Murugan. Can we expect something like that in Seema Raja?

(Laughs) People might get bored if we were to repeat the same ideas. We’ve done it differently this time.

Tell us about the most interesting scene or stunt in the film

The interval block stunt was one of the most challenging scenes we’ve done and it has come out very well. While shooting it, in fact, we had to cancel shoot for two-three days because of heavy rains. And in the set we put up, we had this red sand that would become muddy if it were to rain. We had about thirty assistants ready to hold an umbrella to protect the ground from the rain. It was quite challenging but the result was worth it. The interval block stunt scene is one to look out for in this film. 

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