From crutches to six-pack: director Siva on Ajith’s Vivegam transformation

Director Siva confesses that sleep has been scant the past week or so. With Vivegam‘s post-production work going up to 5.30 in the morning, Siva, somehow, manages to be ready for our 8 am interview. Work has been so taxing that he jokes his wife calls him up even when he’s home, assuming that he’s at his editing suite. Excerpts from a conversation over a cup of Horlicks:

You’ve delivered three consecutive super hits with Siruthai, Veeram and Vedhalam. Each time you make a successful film, you get access to bigger stars and budgets. But does it come with extra pressure?

It’s not the budget or the star that brings pressure. The responsibility of being in the director’s chair is enough to make you work hard.

Vivegam has been touted as Tamil cinema’s first international spy thriller. What are the challenges of placing Tamil characters in aforeign setting?

There’s a disclaimer right at the beginning that the characters speak Tamil only for the ease of communication. The main characters in the film speak Tamil. For others, we’ve used a combination of subtitling and double layering of dialogues. We also have Karunakaran playing the role of a translator.

You’ve chosen to shoot in Eastern European countries such as Bulgaria and Serbia instead of more popular locations there. Are governments there supportive of our cinema?

It’s not economics that decided that. Vivegam required a certain look and an international setting. To shoot the action sequences, we specifically required broad roads and an expert stunt team. A lot of The Expendables, for instance, was shot in Bulgaria with their stunt teams.


As one of Kollywood’s top commercial filmmakers, what are the dos and don’ts when you work on a big-star film?

I don’t believe in splitting films as commercial and non commercial. All it should be is‘people-friendly’. The audience should take back something from the experience. It can be a message, a happy feeling or hope.

So, if you were given the budget and…

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