Pagaivanukku Arulvai team turns the prison into a stage

It was a sunny day and Vani Mahal in T Nagar was bustling with activity. No, this was not because of a kutcheri or a drama. There was a film shoot underway at this popular auditorium. The shoot was that of Sasikumar’s Pagaivanukku Arulvai, directed by Anis of Thirumanam Enum Nikkah fame. The film is a social drama with thriller elements and has real-life prisoners acting in it. The scene that the team was shooting involved the prisoners staging a drama in the prison. “This is the 20th day of our shoot,” informed producer Kishore, who revealed that the story happens in two-time frames — “in an 80s set-up and in the present, in a prison”. “There are four songs in the film, and actual prisoners have sung three of these numbers,” he added. We caught up with the team during the break…

This film is an adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth: Sasikumar

Why I chose this script: There was a positive approach in the script. Plus, I could see the effort the director had put in to write this. Before narrating the script, he showed me how he had gone to the prison to conduct classes and staged a drama, and I liked that. I wanted to do it right away, but we couldn’t find the right producer immediately. Later, when Kishore came on board, we started work soon after.

My character: My character’s name is William. How William ends up in the prison, who are his family… these are what the story is about. It is an adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth.

Experience acting with real-life prisoners: I am acting alongside former prisoners who have since been released. I am able to learn a lot when interacting with them when they share their life stories with me. We are rehearsing the scenes along with them, and they are beautifully learning their lines by heart and performing in a very realistic manner. It is a healthy sign that they are getting a second chance in life now through this film.

I’m happy to be working with such brilliant actors: Vani Bhojan Working with a stellar cast: This is my third day of shoot, and I’m glad to be part of such a project. Sasi sir, Sathish and Haresh sir… they are all brilliant actors, and the very fact that I’m acting alongside them makes me very happy.

Acting with Sasikumar: There is an advantage working with Sasi sir, because he is also a director. He shares some tips when we are acting together, and they are very useful. I’m sure I’ll use them in my other films as well.

I’m learning Tamil now: Sathish Ninasam

My character in the film: My character’s name is Ravi. He is a prisoner, and he has a big backstory. I act in the play that the prisoners’ stage.

Debuting in Tamil: I have done 25 films in Kannada, but this is my first film in Tamil. It is a great experience to work with Anis and Sasikumar sir, who have given me a warm welcome. Anis has become a close friend of mine over these seven years. I had heard this script four years back. It’s a good story, and that’s why I wanted to be part of it. I know a smattering of Tamil, but I’m learning the language now.

To act in a film about theatre is a nice experience: Hareesh Peradi

My character in the film: I play Dr Gopikrishnan, a psychiatrist. But this will be a unique psychiatrist role. The film’s plot revolves around a play staged inside the prison and how that influences characters. I am from the theatre, so to act in a film about a play is a nice and very pleasant experience for me.

The film will also talk about the lifestyle of prisoners, so I felt people who have served time as prisoners will lend authenticity