Siddharth is visibly kicked about his latest release Sivappu Manjal Pachai (SMP), which he calls his first ‘universal Tamil film’ in a long time. Director Sasi, he says, is one of the few filmmakers who tells middle-class stories authentically. “He is a special filmmaker. I wondered why we hadn’t worked together for so long. We had discussed a script 7-8 years back.” But he is glad that it didn’t happen and agrees it was maybe not meant to. “He never repeats his heroes. So I wouldn’t have gotten this film,” says Siddharth, with a laugh.
At a time when most filmmakers struggle to get their work to the big screen, Vijay is one director who has been bringing out films in quick succession. In the last 24 months, he has released four films, with one more set to hit the screens soon — all belonging to different genres. This consistency, he says, comes from good planning. “I don’t shoot and edit. I edit as I shoot. I thoroughly plan my process and that saves a lot of time,” he explains. The diversity, on the other hand, comes from the need to experiment. For example, Watchman came from the desire to make a thriller. In a chat, the Madrasapattinam director talks about his choices, his equation with success and failure, and also his next biggie, the Jayalalithaa biopic, Thalaivi, starring Kangana Ranaut.
Middling films are always the toughest to write about. You can’t go all out with blazing guns because, well, it isn’t that kind of a film. It also isn’t the kind of film that you can shower praises on. No, Watchman is the kind of film that makes you feel vaguely happy about its snappy runtime. The kind which holds the viewer up at the gate — neither letting them completely in nor leaving them stranded on the streets.
From a music director-turned-actor to an actor-composer, GV Prakash’s rise as a hero is noteworthy. After Bala’s Naachiyaar and Rajiv Menon’s Sarvam Thala Mayam, the actor is now stepping into newer, more ‘serious’ zones. The idea, he says, is to explore as much as possible and learn every day. For instance, the energy of his character in Kuppathu Raja is what excited him about the project. This directorial debut of choreographer Baba Bhaskar also sees him experiment with dancing. “We have shot the introduction number with a lot of effort. Baba Bhaskar is a very sensible director,” he says as we sit down to talk about his acting career, stepping back into the music world, and much more.
As Rajiv Menon talks, it is fascinating to see how he seamlessly eases into a tune or two in between the silences. “There is Thaalam in everything. Sita Kalyanam, a song sung at Brahmin weddings, is the same raaga as Kuttanadan Punjaiyile, a song sung by men at boat races,” he explains. This omnipresence of music is what he wishes to bring out with his new film, Sarvam Thaala Mayam. The film documents the life journey of an aspirant mridangist who wishes to break communal hurdles. “All of us have an innate sense of rhythm. Only if I kindle that emotion will the film not get stuck within an instrument. It’s meant to appeal to the sense of music in us,” he explains.
Read the entire conversation here…
The interview in video:
Rajiv Menon’s Sarvam Thaala Mayam is one film that I had been waiting to see for quite some time. Not just because I like Rajiv’s body of work, (Kandukondein Kandukondein is one of my favourite films, period.) but also due to the nature of the film. It follows the story of Peter Johnson (GV Prakash Kumar), a Dalit Christian who aspires to become a Mridangist and break into the ranks of sabha artists. The storyline was of immediate interest, not just due to the casteism angle, but also due to the choice of instrument that it puts under the spotlight.
“At first, I wanted to be an entertainer,” starts GV Prakash Kumar as we talk about his acting plunge, on the eve of his latest release Naachiyaar. An established, successful music director, not many expected GV to venture into acting. But the boyishly-handsome composer quickly created a space for himself with several comedy and youth-centric films such as Darling, Trisha Ilana Nayanthara etc. “Initially, I wanted to become a star and that is what I focused on. But after dipping my feet in, I felt that I had to do justice to the profession. I wanted to prove that I could be dynamic as a performer,” discloses GV Prakash Kumar. And what could be apter than a Bala film? “When Naachiyaar came up to me, I felt that this was the right opportunity. I took it as a challenge.” Continue reading “I wanted to prove that I can be dynamic as an actor: GV Prakash on Bala’s Naachiyaar”
Every Tamil commercial film has a set of elements that have now become requisites. First, we need to have a hero, who is a bit of everything. From being a shy person to magically becoming a charmer overnight, our hero can do anything he wants. The film should have a friend (inevitably played by a comedian) who doesn’t have a life for himself. The main objective of this friend is to be funny and listen to the woes of the hero. Next, we need a ‘loose ponnu’ heroine with absolutely no agency. Her job is to look pretty, find insane reasons to fall in love with the hero. I almost forgot, the heroine has another important role to play: smile coyly at the hero and dance with him. A relatively newer addition, thanks to Saranya Ponvannan, now our heroes have a funny, good-natured, innocent mother as well. She gets a few gags too. Depending on the genre of the commercial film, the prominence of these elements differ. An action flick will have more of the hero doing whatever he wants (forget logic) and less of the heroine who will walk in to provide ‘cute moments’. Throw in some romance, a few funny jokes, an action sequence or two if necessary and somehow we are convinced we have a film in hand. Continue reading “Sema movie review: This GV Prakash film has nothing new to offer”