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Alan Ilanthirayan Arumugam Discusses Directing Aiyai: Wrathful Soul, Potential Sequel

April 7, 2021 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
Aiyai: Wrathful Soul

The 411 Interview: Alan Ilanthirayan Arumugam


Alan Ilanthirayan Arumugam is a writer and director from Australia who recently directed his first feature film, the supernatural horror movie Aiyai: Wrathful Soul released by Film Regions International. In this interview, Arumugam talks with this writer about making Aiyai: Wrathful Soul, what it was like working with the cast and crew, what it took to actually get the movie made, and more.



Bryan Kristopowitz: Why did you want Aiyai: Wrathful Soul to be your first feature film as a director?

Alan Ilanthirayan Arumugam : Three years before we filmed Aiyai: Wrathful Soul, I had many potential producers wanting me to make a film in the “supernatural” genre. I realized there is obvious commercial potential for horror-thriller Films, while at the same time they don’t need a large budget to make. It all started from this practical view, but when I came up with the concept of a realistic-supernatural thriller, which later became Aiyai, things got interesting.

BK: How did you create the script/story with Charles Benedict and Mukund Ramanan? How is the movie “based on real events”?

AIA: For a story for my first feature film, I decided to create something from my own personal experiences. I grew up in a village where we had to take a bus to school, passing graveyards on the way. One day, a friend of mine had taken the last bus back from school but never came back home. After a night’s search, he was found on top of a tree in the graveyard, behaving like a crazy dog. He was clearly traumatized by something He never returned back to his original self. Aiyai’s protagonist character is inspired by this.

With this idea in place, Charles and I developed the overall story. After several drafts, Mukund joined and helped me achieve my exact visualization leading up to the production script.

BK: Is it right to call Aiyai: Wrathful Soul a horror movie?

AIA: Initially it was conceptualized to be horror, but we then streamlined it into a psychological mystery thriller, so that a wider audience can enjoy the film. Having said that, it still has some jaw dropping moments, dark eerie instances and deep emotions which will be hard to get out of your mind.


BK: Where was Aiyai: Wrathful Soul filmed? Is the funeral home location an actual funeral home? Just how large is the cemetery?

AIA: Most of the shoot was on location in Brisbane, including the breathtaking Toowong Cemetery, the largest in Queensland. The funeral home, which forms the pivotal part of the story, was filmed in a late 18th century French colonial mansion called “The Jimbour Homestead.” These fantastic real locations added to the film’s visual appeal and have boosted the film’s production value tremendously.

BK: How did you cast Aiyai: Wrathful Soul?

AIA: This film was a 2.5 year rollercoaster journey before I got an independent Investor to fund it. During this time I built my network and identified some brilliantly talented actors whom I wanted in my film, namely Kabir Singh, Pennyanne Lace and Ozzie Devrish. I had auditioned several actors through development, but most of the current cast were finalized around pre-production. Richard Hugget was actually finalized a few weeks before the shoot, while William Wensley was the acting coach before being cast in a supporting role. Two actors who were chosen just for their looks and presence were Craig Ingham and Marco Sinigaglia, which worked wonders onscreen.

BK: How long did it take to make Aiyai: Wrathful Soul, from finishing the script to completing post-production?

AIA: After the production script was locked, it took 4 months to see the end of production. We took another 8 months to complete post-production, just to ensure enough thought had gone into delivering a quality product. In the end, around a year.

BK: What was the hardest part of making Aiyai: Wrathful Soul for you as a director? What was the easiest?

AIA: The easiest part was working on the set because it is the place where you make all of your visualizations come to life. Getting the footage I need gives me a high. Working with the editor and the VFX team is something I enjoy a lot, but it is also hard at frame level. It needs a lot of patience through thousands of corrections spanning several months.

BK: How did you decide on the mix of special effects showcased in Aiyai: Wrathful Soul? What sort of balance did you try to establish between practical special effects and CGI type effects?

AIA: We were intrigued by the idea of a supernatural concept which maintains logic and realism in the storytelling. This is what we set to achieve visually on screen. Therefore, we employed realistic filmmaking techniques to make the physics connect with the real world. To achieve the right balance, we increased practical special effects and minimized CGI for all the horror elements you see in the film. The result was a “next-door” kind of feel, a supernatural encounter near you.

Burning man_2

BK: The movie’s soundtrack is fabulous. Creepy and memorable. Describe your collaboration with Jason Fernandez, who did the movie’s soundtrack.

AIA: When Jason and I sat down to discuss the music score, I wanted a largely original soundtrack. The movie was all about following the protagonist’s journey through his abnormal transformation. I wanted the score to reflect the protagonist’s psychological trauma. Jason brought up some fantastic ideas to create a mystery thriller mood in the first half. I asked for a blood chilling score to create an impact in the end and he created a fantastic changeover in the score for a grand climax to match the fantastic visuals. On top of this, there are some disturbingly emotional moments which have been conveyed beautifully in the soundtrack, thanks to Jason.

BK: Any movie making heroes?

AIA: Over the last decade, I have constantly been in awe of Hollywood, European filmmakers and other world cinema. But if I have to mention a moviemaking hero, it is a person who greatly inspires me, my DOP Damien Beebe. I like to work with people who inspire me.

BK: Any upcoming projects you can tell us about?

AIA: I am currently working on a big-scale action thriller feature film with gangster elements called ARK13 (working title) which we are planning to shoot in September. Lined up after that is a 14th Century war drama, The Nine Knights, which is a very ambitious Indian-international co-production.

BK: What do you hope audiences get out of Aiyai: Wrathful Soul?

AIA: A psychological mystery thriller with supernatural undertones, but with a lot of twists. Gripping performances by actors. A believable supernatural phenomenon in front of their eyes. An engrossing mystery thriller full of emotions, eerie moments, action and humor. The movie’s world class sound design and a blood-chilling music score will keep them on the edge of their seats. Our hope is that this film will exceed the experience far beyond a typical supernatural thriller.

In addition to this, the film contains a simple but important social message on drunk driving. And the film is suitable for all healthy people across multiple age groups as there is no nudity or excessive gore.

BK: Any interest in making an Aiyai 2?

AIA: We have left the story pretty much open-ended, which means there is a possibility of making Aiyai 2, but we have not planned anything yet. The film is going to be available on OTT platforms soon. If we gain enough viewers across the world, why not make a part 2?

BK: Would you want to work in a cemetery?

AIA: Perhaps if I had not become a director, I would have tried something daring like that, just for the haunting thrill of it.



A very special thanks to Alan Ilanthirayan Arumugam for agreeing to participate in this interview and to david j. moore for setting it up.

Check out the official Aiyai: Wrathful Soul website here, official Facebook page here, official Instagram page here, and official Twitter page here!

Check out Alan Ilanthirayan Arumugam’s official website here and Facebook page here!

Check out my review of Aiyai: Wrathful Soul here!

Alan Ilanthirayan Arumugam image from Alan Ilanthirayan Arumugam’s Facebook page. All other images courtesy of Film Regions International.