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"Varnam" basically is life seen through the viewpoint of a teenager. The story revolves around a boy who goes to live with his uncle after his father's death and what happens to him when he joins a school there and witnesses life, villainy, caste clashes, love, etc New face 18-year-old Giri plays the hero. Sampath Raj plays his uncle. Monica ("Silandhi") dons the role of a teacher. Aswatha, who acted in "Ombathu Rupai Nottu," "Pirivom Sandipom", "Ayyavazhi" and "Valmiki", plays another school student. Muthukumar (Koothuppattarai actor) debuts as villain. The others in the cast are Gautham ("Sandaikozhi") and Vijay Sethupathi. Giri was spotted while he was playing volleyball in Chinnalapatti. During the audition test in which 300 others participated, he was found to have the body language of a rural boy and the command of the language that was needed. The film, set in the rural heartland of Tamil Nadu, has been shot in the locales of Munnar, Pandrimalai, Pannaikadu and Manjaparappu. Touted as a coming-of-age film with a difference, "Varnam" brings out the many shades of adolescence, says debutant director and co-producer S.M. Raju, who hails from Madurai. He worked as a computer scientist in Boston and returned to India four years ago. He underwent theatre and film-making courses during his stint in the United States. What encouraged Raju to make a rural-based Tamil film was the success of films like "Kalloori" and "Paruthiveeran". Being a Madurai man, he wanted to make a film on an ethos he was exposed to in his early years, he says. A caste clash that affected Tamil Nadu some time ago forms part of the backdrop. But the film is neither about caste conflicts nor adult opposition to teenage love. Love, action, kuthu songs, fights and all other commercial elements are there in "Varnam". The famous Veerapandi Thiruvizha in the Theni region is a highlight. With new faces, realistic acting and virgin locales, the film is a "bridge between commercial and realistic cinema." Two years of research has gone into the making of this Rs. 2-5 crore film which is nearing completion. Isaac Thomas has scored the music.
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