Arunraja Kamaraj’s most recent success was the remake of the film Article 15 with actor -politician Udhayanidhi Stalin. The multi-faceted personality Arunraja tells us more about his career and the pursuit of his dream.

You’re a singer, songwriter, actor, and director. What are you most passionate about?
Direction. I began as an assistant director, then moved on to writing songs, singing, and finally acting. I’m supposed to learn everything in order to become a director. It was only a path to my ultimate goal of becoming a director. I also acted in the film Ka Pae Ranasingam with actor Vijay Sethupathi after becoming a director. Everything is going with the flow.

Every character you played was unique. A majority of them were humorous, but the films you directed were political and sports-related. What exactly is your real personality?
I am a serious person who is also an introvert. I have a personal interest in social awareness scripts and read a lot from time to time. If I am working for another director, I must learn their specifications and meet them. When I direct my own film, I am free to write and structure scenes however I see fit. My greatest ambition has always been to become a director, and my journey has only just begun. Kanaa and Nenjuku Needhi, on the other hand, fall into very different genres in my films. There is no specific thought process involved. I prefer to take on a subject and work hard to deliver it correctly.

The film Article 15 received critical acclaim for its incisive commentary on caste-based discrimination. What inspired you to make a remake of Article 15, which was an actual hit in Bollywood?
I didn’t make a frame-by-frame remake. We’ve made significant changes to make it more culturally appropriate. The remake included scenes from Article 15, but they weren’t identical. This isn’t just a story for oppressed people. It is illegal to refer to or degrade someone based on their caste; this applies to everyone. As a result, this cannot be dismissed as merely a film for the oppressed. In my opinion, anyone who causes harm to another person is ultimately wrong. We are all ‘Born Equal,’ as our film’s tagline states. Also I think It is an issue that must be addressed. The essence of Article 15 of the Constitution is that no one should be discriminated against because of their caste, place of birth, or race. Discrimination is a problem that we all face on a daily basis. We must speak up against it. While the issue is sensitive, the law that addresses and acknowledges it cannot be. We must speak out against such punishable offences.

Politics can be found in any field. How much politics does it require in the field of cinema?
The first and foremost thing is how much we ourselves understand cinema. I think we should personally understand the conflicts then only we can judge it.

What is your favourite genre in cinema? And why?
I like dark films. Films like fight club, dark-action film, psychological-thrillers are the genre I personally like. I want to make such films too but I haven’t reached such heights yet. I think such films are rare and there are very few films that combine entertainment and emotion. In the end, it is the emotion that will have the most lasting impact. I wish to experiment with such genres in the future.

Films have a huge impact on society nowadays. How much accountability does a filmmaker bear?
More than the accountability, the main aspect is entertainment. The script should be engaging and entertainment worthy. Responsibility is like medicine to the audience, it’s bitter. When I deliver a socially responsible message through my script I have to add honey or a sugar to sweeten it.

What are your opinions about the audience perspective of a film like Nenjuku Needhi?
People have their own perception and their likes and dislikes are respected. More than that I think what really matters is their beliefs. If the audience thinks it’s right, I am not going to gain any profit by saying their perceptions are wrong. Let them be in their belief system and my work is to bring them out of their comfort zone with my work by provoking their beliefs. All I can think about is my work and how I can combine all of my ideas to make my films better.

You sang a song in the film Kabali, a film of legendary actor superstar Ranjinikanth. How was your singing experience?
He made me famous without him knowing it. During the audio launch, he wasn’t available and I was a little disappointed by the fact that he had no idea that the song was viral. I thought it was my bad time because I did a thing but I couldn’t see his expression. But most of all because of his name and his stardom, his success gave everyone a victory.

You worked as a lyricist and a singer in many films of actor Vijay. Can you share a few words about your working experience with him?
It feels positive revisiting those memories. He is the sweetest person and I personally adore him for his personality. I wish to mingle and work with him in future too. Once the song is out he calls me and I have no idea what was happening at that time. He usually appreciates the song and I get blacked out due to the joy. At times I think of it as my negativity. I get over excited and joyful, what if I am narrating to him my script? I might forget everything within five minutes.

Udhayanidhi Stalin, as an actor and politician, may be difficult to catch up with. How was your experience with him professionally and personally?
More than his official title, he is a brotherly figure to me. I have a strong personal and emotional connection with him. He came and stood with me after my personal loss, and my unforgettable memory with him is a hug that was much needed at the time. I was isolating myself because of the covid, but he never cared and hugged me anyway. I only considered him as an actor, and his political background had no bearing on my decision. In terms of film, he is a producer with a major label who has also acted. Even before Kanaa, I was attempting to write scripts for him. I was overjoyed when I was given the opportunity to work with him on my second film Nenjuku Needhi.

What’s next?
I’m getting ready and prepared for the best. Now in the process of writing. Hopefully I will experiment more with different genres in the upcoming ventures.