Sunday, August 24, 2008

Interview with Subramaniapuram movie Director

Youth, the seamy side


It was not easy to recreate Madurai of the 1980s for ‘Subramaniapuram.’ But the effort has paid rich dividends.

It was like walking on razor’s edge. Masking modern day sophistication was strenuous, for instance, the overhead cable television network wires…

Photo: G. Moorthy

A scene from his Subramaniapuram

The success of ‘Subramaniapuram,’ has heralded the arrival of yet another promising director, M. Sasikumar, from the school of popular filmmakers Bala and Ameer to Kollywood.

If you think the film is an outcome of decades of mulling over a plot by the creator, you are mistaken. For, it took hardly 12 months for Sasikumar to conceive and write the script.

The idea to make a period film germinated when Sasikumar was working with Ameer for ‘Ram.’ He wanted to make a subject on youth, throwing light on the darker side.

“Immediately, after the movie, I walked up to Ameer making my intentions to become a director clear. For long, I wished to portray the other side of the youth and I feel happy for having done justice to my urge,” he recounts.

A gripping start and narration — a mixture of romance flavoured with comedy — culminating in tense moments, was the recipe the director adopted to convey his message convincingly. Right from the word ‘go,’ the movie transports the audience to Madurai in 1980.

Recreating the past

Promising director: M. Sasikumar

The challenge was recreating the past with an authentic touch. “We put in serious efforts to make sure that anything representing the contemporary would not creep in. We bought most of the articles used in the picture. The task called for extensive homework. Starting from hairstyle to costume design, the movie demanded a lot and we were equal to the task. You might have noticed that each character wears clothes of a distinct design pattern. For instance, ‘Paraman’ (the role donned by me), bosom-friend of the protagonist, always prefers shirts with checks while ‘Azhagar,’ his friend, selects shirts with motley designs,” he says.

The film has won critical acclaim for its authentic presentation of things that were in use during 1980s.

“It was like walking on razor’s edge. Masking modern day sophistication was strenuous, for instance, the overhead cable television network wires that snaked over the walls of almost all the houses. However, the dividends have been rich, Sasikumar beams.

On choice of music director and use of Ilaiyaraja’s popular number ‘Siru ponmani’ as a sort of love theme, Sasikumar says: “We wanted to use that song from ‘Kallukkul Eeram’ as an alternative to the background score and it worked well.

“James Vasanthan was our first choice since he was my music teacher at school and we do complement each other. I was able to extract work, which a debutant cannot expect from an established music director. The songs, re-recording with its spaces for silence synchronised well with the narration.”

More than the entertainment, the accent was on documenting the past. The anguish of the unemployed youth, who are made scapegoats in the political power struggle, is well-captured by him, reflecting the political ethos.

The presence of the portrait of freedom fighter V.O.Chidambaram Pillai at the heroine’s house, shifts the focus to the political and caste equations that have always played a significant role in the history of Madurai.

Azhagar is hacked to death and the heroine’s uncle says to her, “You have proved that you are one of us.”

It comes as a rude shock to the viewer savouring the romance beautifully portrayed up to that point. The man betrayed by his sweetheart?

“The family bond is stronger here than the love. If the girl and the boy had united, the film would not have become a talking point now. But this is reality,” asserts Sasikumar. “I did not discuss the script with any of my cinema friends. Instead I told the story to a friend totally unconnected with the field. When he understood what I was trying to say, I knew I would make it.”

The film does not show that it was the failure of the State to provide employment, as quite a few films made at that point of time sought to show.

© Copyright 2000 - 2008 The Hindu


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Saroja Devi: I dedicate the award to Mahatma Gandhiji

‘I dedicate the award to Mahatma Gandhiji’

Wednesday August 13 2008 16:14 IST

Y Maheswara Reddy

Actor Saroja Devi

Padmabhushan and Padmashri Dr B Saroja Devi will be seen sharing honours along with dignitaries — Dilip Kumar, Lata Mangeskar and Tapan Sinha —at the 61st Independence Day celebrations in New Delhi.

Though awards are not new to Dr Saroja Devi, the veteran artiste considers the Lifetime Achievement Award very special. “I will dedicate it to Mahatma Gandhiji. I like his principles, but unfortunately many people are not following the footprints of Gandhiji,” says Dr Saroja Devi.

She had made her debut in the film Mahakavi Kaalidasa reluctantly. Though she was not fond of acting in films, the success of her maiden film made her famous over night.

So far, Saroja Devi has acted in more than 180 films in different languages including Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Hindi. She won a number of awards and was felicitated on a number of occasions. “God has given me enough to lead a content life,” says the veteran actress.

However, Saroja Devi desires to play the character of a mother-in-law who not only controls the joint family but is also a role model for family members. Her last film was Thimma in which she acted as the mother of the psychopathic hero.

“I am ready to play such character roles but not filler roles. Why should I accept insignificant roles? I am not willing to act as the mother of an unknown hero or heroine. I will have no problem if any producer or director comes forward with a good script, and if I get due respect during the shooting and even in the title listing.

They should give importance for me as per my experience. Why should my name appear on the screen only after the hero's name? I should get preference,” she explains.

Recalling her memorable moments as an actress of four languages, Saroja Devi showers praises on late director L V Prasad for his honesty. “Nowadays, it is very difficult to find such honest people. He promised to give me Rs 25,000 as a gift if Beti Bete completes screening of 100 days.

The film was a big success at the box office. I had forgotten about his promise but he promptly gave me the promised amount. I gave a ring studded with 16 stones to him as a gift," narrates Saroja Devi.

How does she spend her time? “I am leading a content life. Actually, I did not want to live when my husband died, but I had to adapt myself to reality. I always keep myself busy. My principle is not to hurt any one,” says the actress.

How does her day begin? “I get up early morning and walk in my garden for one hour. I love to spend time admiring the beautiful flowers in my garden. I spend only two minutes for pooja because I do not believe in spending more time. I request and pray the God (Hanuman) to take care of me during the day,” explains Saroja Devi.


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