“When I went to pitch the story to Nayantara, it turned out she was a fan of horror films too. She spoke at length about her love for horror cinema. This enabled us to connect with the vision of the film easily; helped us to be on the same page while working,” Ashwin said.
He also said that Nayantara’s image as an actor helped the film to great extent.
“More than her image as a star, it’s her actor’s image that audiences will get to see in the film. Her performance really enhanced the film and I thoroughly enjoyed working with her,” said Saravanan, who considers Nayantara a “thorough professional”.
Produced by Potential Studios and also starring Aari, the film is slated to release worldwide on Thursday.
Unlike the kind of horror films Tamil cinema is exposed to lately, “Maya” will emotionally resonate with the audience, believes the 25-year old director.
“I don’t want to make a film just to scare people; it should have something more. I believe I’ve achieved that with ‘Maya’, which has a very interesting story to tell apart from scaring people,” he said.
“We’ve tried to balance emotions and thrills appropriately. It’ll be an emotional supernatural horror film,” said Saravanan, who defines horror aptly in the lines of author Stephen King.
The director believes that horror is not about what you feel when you’re going to die. “It’s a feeling that makes you want to die than go through this”.
“Lately in Tamil films, there’s been lot of objectification of ghosts. It’s not suggested that you make horror films like that. The kind of horror films I’ve enjoyed is where the ghost is rarely present and it’s very atmospheric,” he said.
For Saravanan, the biggest source of inspiration behind his love for horror cinema began with a popular Tamil television series called “Marmadesam – Vidatha Karuppu”.
“It was a television series in the 1990s. It had a lot of influence on my understanding of the horror genre. It was very scary with great performances. Even when I saw it recently, it was so relevant to my work,” he said, and added he also loves what Australian filmmaker James Wan is doing to the horror genre.
The film also stars Robo Shankar, Lakshmi Priyaa Chandramouli and Reshmi Menon in important roles.
Some crucial portion of the film was shot in a forest, and Saravanan recalls an eerie incident when asked about the shooting experience.
“We had to shoot a ghost scene in the forest. Every single time we tried to shoot the scene, it rained out of the blue. This happened a few times and we got really frustrated. Although we finally managed to complete the scene, I still feel it wasn’t just a coincidence and there was something more to it,” he said.
The film has been dubbed in Telugu as “Mayuri” and will simultaneously release with its Tamil version.