Prabhu Solomon awaits the release of 'Aranya' on March 26. In this interview, the director talks about working with Rana Daggubati, how difficult it was to shoot the action-adventure film and more.
When I was making 'Kumki' (2013), I visited a forest area where I lived with a mahout's family. I realized that there are several untold stories about elephants. The population of elephants has come down drastically over the decades. When Eros approached me saying they want to make a film on man-animal conflicts, I suggested to them that I would like to make a film on the subject set in Kaziranga, Assam.
When I visited Kaziranga in 2017, I came to know of a story about a man's struggle to legally dismantle a wall that was built in an elephant corridor. The issue has been going on in the courts for more than 10 years. We worry for farmers and a lot of other sections of society. But what about the environment? When Nature's cycle is disturbed, a lot of cascading effects take place.
I roped in Rana Daggubati because I wanted a tall man who looks like Moses of Ten Commandments. I have spent four years on the project.
The film is not about Jadav Payeng, the Forest Man of India. 'Aranya' is entirely about elephants that were struck because of a wall built in their habitat. There are no cliches, typical commercial elements in the film.
We wanted to shoot the film in Vietnam, which is one of the best locations. But you don't easily find elephants there. We toyed with Sri Lanka as well. We eventually zeroed in on Thailand. I needed at least 20 elephants at one place to fill the frame. Thailand has got so many elephant parks. The matriarch elephant has to be brilliant. It was the toughest thing for me to find it.
We all have emotions inside us. I wanted to make a film on the damage to the environment and the emotions around it instead of merely raising questions. 'Aranya' is not just about elephants. It's about us.
'Kumki' and 'Mynaa', too, were shot in jungles. I know how the habitats are like. I had a sense of the challenges that the crew of the film would face while shooting for 'Aranya'. We took care of the safeguards needed.