Ticket is the firstever Tamil independent film to have had a world premiere at the prestigious Empire Leicester Square theatre and a triple premiere in London and Birmingham. This is Raaghav Ranganathan’s directorial debut and is a one-of-a-kind thriller with a quirky sense of humour.

The title of the movie is a play on the colloquial Tamil usage Ticket Vaangittaan! that translates to (he’s bought a ticket!). The film features Ranganathan and Karthik Kumar in lead roles along with Sanam Shetty, Aishwariyaa and Lakshmipriyaa. It is slated to release in August.

Excerpts:

Q How do you feel about Ticket’s world premiere at the prestigious London Indian Film Festival? What was your experience?

Oh, it was amazing! I felt grateful and blessed. Here, we were, rubbing shoulders with legends like Adoor Gopalakrishnan, walking the red carpet with stalwarts like Ashutosh Gowariker, sitting in the same room with Anand Gandhi, Naman Ramachandran, etc. It was surreal.

Q The film being your directorial debut,what do you think is the reason behind its selection for such a prominent event? How was its reception?

I’m hoping it’s because it’s a good film (smiles). Honestly, when we made it, we weren’t really thinking as a “Festival” film. However, LIFF is known for appreciating a diverse variety of films, and I’m glad that the festival director Cary Sawhney and the selection committee warmed up to a comedy thriller. The audience reception was fantastic. Ticketwas written to be an entertaining film and to actually see the audience cracking up at the jokes or sit at the edges of their seats was validation.

Q The movie revolves around life and death.What is the inspiration behind choosing such an intriguing subject line?

I enjoy writing stories that have some existential value at its core, and what could be more existential than death itself right? The human being’s quest for immortality is very intriguing. Most are in denial of their own mortality though they are aware of the shadows of death slowly creeping upon them. This unquenchable thirst to play this game, called “life” is something I find very intriguing. Ticket gave me a way to explore some of these themes of mortality, although in a really quirky way.

Q Do you think Indian audience is becoming more receptive to independent/non-commercial films?

I don’t know what you mean by a “non-commercial” film. I’m assuming that you mean a “non-formula” film. One that doesn’t have the standard two fights, one item number, one foreign location love duet and one kuththu song. As far as the Tamil film industry is concerned, in the last couple of years, films that adhere to these done-to-death formulae have failed miserably at the box office.The audience is receptive to anything that is fresh. It could be a big budget production or a small, independent one. It needs to have a “fresh” approach to the narrative.

Q Do you love to be an actor or a director?

Acting is something I’ve done for about 15 years now. So, I’m fairly confident of my acting craft. I am still learning and exploring, but I have experience to back me. As far as direction goes, I’m a newbie. There is so much more to learn and I feel I’m hardly scratching the surface as a storyteller. The vast unknowns of direction are overwhelming but it also makes it adventurous and exciting. So, as of now, I’m comfortable as an actor and excited as a writer and director.

Q Do you think Tamil cinema industry has started making its mark globally?

The moment A R Rahman said “Ellaa pugazhumi Raiva Nukkey” at the Oscars; Tamil film industry had indirectly made a mark globally. There have been several individual achievers like Ashok Amritraj, ILaiyaraja, Mani Ratnam, Rajnikanth and Kamal Hassan, who are recognised internationally. Perception of Tamil cinema on the whole, however, is eclipsed by Bollywood, which is known more internationally.

Q You are an actor,singer,music composer and now a director.Have you always wanted to be part of the film industry? What do you enjoy doing the most?

You forgot to mention dancer (laughs). I have always loved movies, but I guess growing up, being a part of movies was “wishful thinking” because I come from a family where nobody else was/is in the film industry. However, when you have parents who allow you to choose your life, a wife who supports your dream, friends who pick you up when you’re feeling down, I guess anything is possible. When I’m being an actor or dancer, I’m just being a performer, an instrument to channel somebody else’s creative vision. So, my effort is only to keep my body, mind and emotions honed and available for somebody else’s vision. The work is interpretive in nature. Being a writer-director, composer involves channelling your own creative vision. So, this is more meditative and creative in nature.

Q Do you think it’s easy to sustain in this industry? Were there any challenges?

I think it’s a challenge to sustain in any industry today. We live in very competitive times. Maintaining your mental balance when opportunities that you are looking for don’t come by, maintaining your physique, saying no to lucrative offers that don’t align with your vision for your career. All these are challenges. My wife Preetha has helped me hugely in this because she takes the financial burden when I’m not doing projects. That way I’ve not been forced to take up projects just for money.

Q Tell us about your upcoming projects.

I’m currently playing the lead in a Tamil film called Beep for which I’ve finished about 75 per cent of my work. Also, waiting for the second film of a new director to kick start, where I should be playing one of the leads. Meanwhile, I’ve finished writing my second script which we hope to start once Ticket gets released.

Q You have worked on television for quite some time now. What do you prefer more,TV or movies?

Television is an extremely powerful medium. I have loved working on shows (dance shows mostly). I however, love the timelessness of a well-made movie a little bit more. It’s never forgotten. Maybe, it’s my quest for immortality that makes me more enamoured with movies