Actor Varun: ‘Puppy’ has a social message

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He may be making his debut in a leading role with Puppy (releasing today) but actor Varun is not new to the movie business (he made his acting debut in a small role in Vijay’s Thalaivaa). The nephew of Vels Film International promoter Ishari K Ganesh, it is Varun and his brother who handle the scripts that come the way of his home production banner. “Uncle (Ganesh) never listens to stories. My brother, who is the executive producer, and I are the ones who listen to scripts, and if we like it, we take the project to our uncle,” he says.

That is how Puppy came his way as well. “The story was referred to us by another production house, who is uncle’s friend. They heard Puppy’s script and passed it onto us because they were not in a situation to produce at the time. When the director (Nattu Dev) narrated the full story to us, we thought it was a youthful subject that would connect to all audiences, and I felt that it would definitely be a good break for me,” he adds. Excerpts from an interview:

Why wait so long to make your leading role debut?

My aim was to become a lead actor, no doubt. But I didn’t want to do it at the beginning because I wanted people to see my performance and get used to my face. I also made it a point to choose those (secondary) characters which would demand something out of me.

What is Puppy’s crux?

It is a coming-of-age sort of movie. It is about premarital sex which is very common now-a-days. We wanted to discuss this serious issue in a comical way so that it will be relatable for a youthful audience while at the same time deliver a social message. The film is named Puppy after the dog character in it. The dog is critical to the plot.

The movie’s adult content has become the talk…

You may have that perspective after watching the trailer but that is not what the movie is about. It is not an adult film and there is nothing vulgar in the content.

Actor Varun

But the way the film has been promoted make it seem such…

We felt that for a new hero, there needs to be some sort of a pull factor in the film. Our target audience is the youth. The content is about premarital sex. So, we had to make a trailer in a way that attracts the young audience to the screen. The film may have adult comedy elements but it is not an adult movie. It is actually a cute love story with a good message.

There was controversy around using godman Nithyananda’s image. You mocked the outrage in the trailer too…

Without knowing the story of the film, people say that we were disparaging the person. There were calls to ban the film. Let me make it clear that there is no scene about Nithyananda. We only looked at it as a promotional strategy. Which is why we decided to purposefully mock the case in the trailer because we wanted people to know how lame it was.

What will be the highlight in Puppy?

There is a six-and-a-half-minute scene towards the climax which was shot in a single take. I was carrying a dummy puppy with about 40 kilograms stuffing in it. It was very hard to shoot the scene because the camera man also had to log a heavy steadicam around. We only got it right in the fifth take. There were problems like someone walking into the frame or the camera losing focus. But this scene will have a great impact in the film.

What are your upcoming projects?

After Puppy, I have Seeru with Jiiva. I had to put on at least 20 kilograms to play the character of a rogue in the film. I am in talks to do another film under my home banner. We are waiting to see if it materialises. But I’m also eager to know how the public receive Puppy.

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