We haven’t seen much of Shanthnu in the last four years, but he says much has changed—his judgement of scripts, for example. “I have decided to do more experimental films… like Vaaimai.” And that’s because “there aren’t too many good films coming out, these days.” Rumour has it that Vaaimai is based on 12 Angry Men. He agrees, but says, “To my knowledge, we will not be mentioning the film in the credits, as there have been many jury-based films made, and Vaaimai could be inspired by any of them.” The film has a powerful message. “It suggests that we adopt the jury system as it is less corruptible than our present system.” To further emphasise how the film is different, Shanthnu says that the film has done away with a comedy track and a love angle.
Something else has changed. Shanthnu had a conversation with his father, K. Bhagyaraj, and decided that for better or worse, he will choose his films himself. “In the past, we have turned down films like Boys, Subramaniapuram, and Kaadhal. But dad always meant well.” He takes a detour from the conversation to narrate the tragic tale of a helpful goat that gets slaughtered at the end. “Similarly, people have blamed my father for my lack of success as an actor.” The reason Shanthnu was forced into making such a decision had also to do with the industry’s perception that Bhagyaraj meddles with his scripts. “As one of the best scriptwriters in Tamil cinema, he tries to help. Even Murugadoss approached him for advice when writing the Hindi version of Ghajini.” But Shanthnu knew that it was crucial for the health of his career that he make this decision public. “Dad was hesitant initially, but he understands.”