It's not easy to direct a star, but 24-year-old newcomer Ashwin Saravanan, who has a few short films to his credit, has become one of the youngest directors to work with southern actress Nayantara in upcoming yet-untitled Tamil "supernatural thriller".
"Nayantara plays a mother and the story predominantly revolves around her character. That's all I can reveal at the moment," Ashwin told IANS.
Potential Studios, a subsidiary of popular Tamil production house Studio Green is producing the film, which also features Aari in the lead.
How did a 24-year-old convince a top production house and manage to rope in a star in his debut?
"It was quite challenging because I haven't assisted anyone. But instead of pitching the story to my producers, I shot a five-minute pilot scene from the film and approached them. I narrated my story and subsequently showed them the scene. They really liked it," he said.
"In a supernatural thriller, it's mostly the visuals and the tone of the film that matter. The pilot scene came in very handy because no matter how good a story is, producers usually worry about the final product. That's precisely why I gave them a glimpse of what I intend to make," he added.
Nayantara came onboard because the producers felt "someone with great screen presence could only pull off the role".
"Initially, we felt she might not do this film. But after I saw the Tamil remake of aKahaani', I thought she might be interested in doing it. We approached her and I showed her the pilot scene. Two days later, she agreed to be part of the project," Ashwin said.
Nayantara believes in "director's vision" and is a "thorough professional" to work with, says Ashwin, who is still left with 15 days of shoot.
"She's a delight to work with. She never asks questions and trusts in her director. It's very easy to work with her and never do you feel that she's a star," he said.
"This supernatural film will be more about the characters. Audiences won't get to see Nayantara or her stardom because they'll be engrossed by her character. Her costumes, acting and everything around her will be organic," he added.
This will be the first time Nayantara will be essaying a mother character in a Tamil project. In Telugu, she has played a mother in "Tulasi" and "Sri Rama Rajyam".
Ashwin admits he initially had his "reservations" about whether Nayantara will accept a mother's role.
"People aren't used to seeing her as a mother in Tamil movies and that part worried me the most. But after I saw her playing a mother to two kids in a Telugu film, I hoped she wouldn't mind playing the role again. I'm glad she agreed to do it and she's been splendid," he said.
The film, which is jointly produced by Prabhu and Prakash Babu, has music by debutant Ron Yohan.