With the likes of stunt directors Jaguar Thangam and film editor Anthony making it to the directors’ chair, Expresso takes a look at some of the popular technicians in Kollywood who have turned filmmakers. With an unending list of artiste like Kamal Haasan, Arjun and Nasser who started their career by donning the grease paint and later widening their interest to other areas of filmmaking, especially direction, quite a few technicians in the Tamil film industry are directing films.
The latest being Raju Sundaram who directed 'Aegan', after his brother Prabhu Deva did 'Pokkiri' and is now busy with 'Villu'. That being known, technician Karnan is a classic example: Starting his career as a cinematographer in the Telugu industry as early as 1962, he later turned a director in Kollywood, churning out many films including Raja (1972) and Jambu, starring Jaishankar(1980). The same goes for popular technician Balu Mahendra, who was also a cinematographer in the Malayalam industry, and then became a director creating master pieces like 'Kokila' (1977), 'Moodu Pani' (1980) and many more. Both Balu Mahendra and Karnan did a balancing act of both directing and handling the camera skillfully.
Joining the list of cinematographer turned director was Rajiv Menon. Having established himself as an Ad filmmaker, Rajiv entered the film industry donning the camera for Mani Ratnam’s film Bombay (1995). He later made films like 'Minsara Kanavu' (1997) and 'Kandukondain Kandukondian' (2000).
Making the list of cinematographers turned directors a never-ending one was PC Sreeram, who made films like 'Kuruthipunal' (1996) and 'Vaanam Vasappadum' (2005), 'Santhosh Sivan' created 'Malli' (1998), The Terrorist (1999) and Navarasa (2005), KV Anand made 'Kana Kandaen' (2005) and is now working on Suriya starrer 'Ayan' set to release in 2009. Not to forget Jeeva who made films like 12B (2001), 'Ullam Ketkume' (2005), 'Unnale Unnale' (2007) and his last film 'Dhaam Dhoom' (2008). And there's more now with cinematographer R D Rajasekhar who has shot films like 'Khakka Khakka' also directing a film. Ravivarman, another cinematographer, is also directing Mascow in Cauvery.
While moving from cinematography to direction is seen as a routine route, it does come as a surprise when dance masters don the director's hat. So, when Lawerence created a wave in Kollywood by directing Muni back in 2006, he was followed by Prabhu Deva who started his career by teaching dance moves for the stars in the film 'Agni Natchatram' (1988). Without much news, Raju Sundaram made 'Aegan' this year. But it is to be noted that the choregraphers had already made it on-screen as heroes before they became filmmakers. Popular dance master Sundaram too made the film 123 starring his three sons, Prabhu Deva, Raju Sundaram and Nagendra Prasad. Little known choreographer Hari Kumar made it to the list of Kollywood directors 'Thoothukodi' (2006). “I always wanted to become an actor. I didn’t have any intention of becoming a director. When I got the script for 'Thoothukodi', I wanted to give direction a shot. Moreover, I learnt the nuances of direction through observing the directors with whom I have worked with. I get to know the entire subject of the film and that’s how I learnt,” said Hari Kumar who has been choreographed for films like 'Kasturi Maan'.
From being a fight man, Jaguar Thangam has now picked up the microphone not just for stunt scenes but for a complete movie. The stunt director who has worked with many stars in Kollywood is now directing his son Vijaya Chiranjeevi in the film Surya.
For a technician who has always been a part of the postproduction stage of a film and has never seen through a camera lens, becoming a director is quite unusual. But B Lenin who has established himself has a film editor, had also been a filmmaker who made 'Solla Thudikkuthu Manasu' (1988). Another popular film editor Anthony will also make his directorial debut with 'Jagajaala Prathaban', which is set to release in April 2009. “I have been in the field of editing since 1994. I always used to observe the rushes. Though I didn’t have any intention of getting into direction back then, it is helping me a lot now. I have learnt the process of shooting and the different styles of working of directors through their film rushes,” said Anthony.
Popular violinist Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan who has not just carved a niche for himself in the field of Carnatic music but film music too attracted the volin maestro. A recipient of State Award for scoring music for the popular film 'Thirumalai Thenkumari', 'Kunnakudi made Essapaattu Kaari', a musical on the lines of 'Thillana Mohanambaal' in 2006.