What made you rope in Sai Pallavi?
First, I had created the character Arathu Anandhi, without keeping any artist in mind. It was exciting and interesting. The character would have both fun and emotional parts and therefore require an actress who can carry both these elements. I had seen Premam and Fida and felt that Sai Pallavi could carry both the chirpy and the serious side of this role. I also thought that it would be an interesting and fresh pair from the casting perspective. I was keen to have a face which does not look like the usual heroine. The character is very important as it occupies the heart of the script. Sai Pallavi fitted that bill perfectly and her character has turned out very interestingly.
What about Varalaxmi?
Varalaxmi is not paired opposite Dhanush but we can say she is one of the female leads in the film. She plays a very crucial role and her character propels the story forward in the second half. It is a solid and strong role.
Can you elaborate the role of Tovino Thomas in the film?
When we made casting announcements itself, we had divulged about Tovino's role in the film. He is the main villain. The story begins with his character. In fact, I started writing the story with his character first and then only proceeded to write the rest. When you see the look and trailer of the film, you will realize that he is not the usual villain. Although he is one of the popular front runners in Malayalam, he agreed to play the villain in Maari because of his characterization and its detailing. He knew that there is scope and purpose for this character. Through brain and brawn, this character would give a good fight for Maari.
Krishna plays Dhanush sir's best friend in the film. If you see, all the characters, be it the main or the supporting ones, they will be contributing to the transformation of Maari. Krishna sir will be like a second lead in the film. I should thank him enough as despite being a solo hero, he has agreed to play a character like this. But the reason for him to do this was because his character had that much scope. His part in the film is the emotional core of the film.
One of the major USPs of Maari 1 was Anirudh's music. But in Maari 2, Yuvan Shankar Raja is the music composer. Can you talk about his work?
I can't much speak in detail about the change in the composer but I was excited to have gotten an opportunity to work with Yuvan sir. That's how I saw. I have been a fan of his music from my younger days and have been waiting for a chance to work with him. I am glad it happened in this film. When we go to a composer, we usually have that curiosity as to what he is going to bring to the table. That was my feeling when we started work with him. Maari is a brand alright but beyond that there should be some kind of freshness in it. It is advantageous to repeat the old elements but people might also want something new. For that Yuvan Shankar Raja's music and the new characters have played their parts. Be it the songs or the background score, Yuvan kept surprising us. All the songs are a hit and people love it. I am happy that he is a part of the project.
How did Raja sir come in?
There is an unexplainable feel and emotion in Raja sir's voice. It is very difficult to recreate that feel by even established singers. It is a specialty of him. Maari's Anandhi song needed that feel. Since Yuvan sir was composing, it became easier to approach Raja sir. As all of you know, Dhanush sir is a biggest fan of Raja sir and was keen that Raja sir sing in his film and also his lines. I am glad that it happened in Maari 2.
In Maari, you have tried the commercial genre while your other films belong to a different genre. What other genres would you like to try? Which one is your favorite?
I want to try out a science fiction, a murder mystery. The scripts that I have written contain these themes as well. There are certain stories that have to be told in a larger canvas. I would like to try relationship based films. Since there are wider options for filmmakers today, I am confident that I would be trying out all these genres as well. As ideas or scripts, I have plenty. Whether I have the time to do all these is a question. Sometimes, it will happen automatically.
Will there be Maari 3?
I am confident that people will like Maari 2. The nature of the character is such that it can be extended to many parts. It is not a serious character but one can also think serious issues with this character. That is the specialty. There is a specific nature of Maari which you will not find in the characters of other franchises in Tamil cinema which makes it possible to stretch Maari to many parts. Possibilities to try out different things with Maari character are endless.It can continue as a franchise because it has the potential.
People who do web series talk uniformly about the freedom in the medium. Can you compare and contrast web series and feature films?
Yes, freedom is one of the main components. Other advantages are the episodic format and the lengthier time to convey our story. Both feature film and web series have their own pros and cons. There are certain things which you can do only in one medium and vice versa. That's the reason I don't want to slot myself in this or that. I want to work in both alternately because as a creator it gives me a wider spectrum to try out two different things. I cannot work in a big budget in web series. In the same way, I am not ready as yet to talk about mature relationships or mature content like in 'As I am suffering from kaadhal' in feature films. I get a variety as a creator when I am working on these two media alternately in which case I will not be limiting myself in my thought process. Before web series came in, that option to experiment was not there for us. Now that it is there, I would say it is a good thing.
Have you readied scripts for your next project?
Yes, I have many scripts in various stages. Talks are also going on. But I am figuring out which I want to do as my next project. I think it will soon crystallize.
All the best Balaji Mohan!