A horror film, a stoner comedy, a web-series and now a silent film — it is an interesting list of projects that Sananth Reddy has in his repertoire. After debuting with the hit horror film Demonte Colony, Sananth backed it up with the stoner comedy Jil Jung Juk and then came Balaji Mohan’s viral web series As I am suffering from Kaadhal. Now the actor is part of Karthik Subbaraj’s silent film Mercury, which also stars Prabhudheva and Meyaadha Maan fame Indhuja. Quiz him about his eclectic pick of projects, Sanath admits that it is part choice and part destiny. “I want to get associated with films and directors who can bring something different out of me. I have been a bit choosy. Partly it is because I pick characters that are interesting and will stand out with the audience,” he said. “The directors who I got the opportunity to work with have also given me characters that bring out the best out of me,” he added.
Interestingly, Madhu, one of the short films that Sananth acted in, was a part of Karthik Subbaraj’s short film anthology Bench Talkies. But the connection between Karthik and Sananth goes back in time. “I have known Karthik Subbaraj for a long time. I was in college when he started making short films. I used to really like his films, ones before Nalaya Iyakkunar as well. I saw one such film on YouTube and reached out to him saying it was really good. We became a tad closer after Bench Talkies,” said Sananth. Notably, Karthik’s Stone Bench Creations went to bankroll the feature film that was made out of Madhu, Meyaadha Maan.
Sans dialogues, there are several questions that rise as to how the filming process of Mercury is different from a normal film. For example, what cues did the actors have in combination scenes? Sanath is careful to not give any spoilers. “That’s the surprise of the film. I don’t want to reveal it now. The audience would definitely like it,” he said.
But acting without dialogues was quite an experience, admitted Sananth. After Kamal Haasan’s no-dialogue 1987 film Pesum Padam, Mercury is the first film in the same space. “Everything that needs to be conveyed has to be done through our expressions and body language. That was a bit difficult,” revealed Sanath. The cast and crew rehearsed for about 2-3 weeks before shoot. With no reference points, performances in Mercury came out from several discussions and improvisations. “We also improvised a lot on sets. Karthik pitched in several ideas. The film is a very collaborative effort — there was a lot of discussion and exchange behind Mercury.”
Karthik’s approach also helped the actors to bring in a lot of their ideas in their performances. “When a director gives you a proper scene and asks you to come up with something, there is a lot of scope as an actor to improvise. A couple of weeks before the shoot, I was a bit nervous about pulling it off and said the same to Karthik. He asked me not to come to the sets if I am scared. He wanted the magic that the actor can bring from within. I think that has worked for all of us and the audience should really enjoy it,” explained Sananth.
Growing up in the 90s, Sanath’s childhood is peppered with memories of dancing to Prabhudheva’s numbers. “I must have seen Petta Rap, Mukkabala and the film Minsara Kanavu multiple times. He has always been such a star, not just to me but for everyone who has grown up in the 90s.” So, when Karthik Subbaraj told him that he would be sharing screen space with Prabhudheva, the young actor was pleasantly taken aback. “Being in Karthik Subbaraj film along with Prabhudheva is a dream come true for me. When we started working, we realised what a down-to-earth person he is. He is also a very fun guy,” said Sananth. He further asserts that Prabhudeva’s role will be massive. “We have seen him predominantly in fun avatars. This film will turn it all around. I don’t think Indian cinema has seen a similar character before — and Prabhudheva playing it, it is going to be huge.”