Trying to Push the Boundaries of Filmmaking
By Janani Sampath | Express Features | Published: 29th January 2014 12:23 PM |
After he decided to make his first full-length film, Pannaiyarum Padminiyum was not the first choice for director Arun Kumar. He says, “I sat down with a short film that I had made earlier. As I tried to make a feature film script out of it, I realised that I was simply stretching it without any end. Then I decided that I should just drop it and look at working on my other short film Pannaiyarum Padminiyum,” he says.
The first time director shot to fame with the short film, which won the Nalaiya Iyakkunar show.
But, it was not hard to convince the producer M R Ganesh, who had suggested that he approach Vijay Sethupathi for the role. “Honestly, finding the producer or convincing the lead actor was not tough at all. I didn’t have to explain to Vijay Sethupathi that there was a subtle heroism in the film. He seemed very positive about his role as soon as I narrated the script to him,” he says.
He adds that Iyshwarya Rajesh was the last to come on board because it took a while for him to finalise her part. And, for the landlord’s role he needed someone, who could pull off the benign and jovial role of the Pannaiyar and Jayaprakash was the best choice. “The landlord’s wife has an important role, too. Her part has an added weight in the film’s script,” he says.
Arun Kumar says while the core of the film is its comedy plot, there is a lot of emphasis on emotion and sentiments.Working with a vivid imagination, he says that the film is entirely a figment of his wild creativity.
“I only had images of a car under a tree in a village. The other characters were all introduced around the vintage car. I decided to make the landlord a fun character. Possibly the only inspiration I would say is the memory of using the neighbour’s telephone in my hometown in Madurai. I substituted the telephone with a car that is being used by everyone in the village,” he adds.
The filmmaker only hopes that his film doesn’t disappoint anyone. “The only expectation is that people, who watch the film for Vijay Sethupathi, shouldn’t feel let down. Those who wish to make it big in films by taking the short film route, as I did, shouldn’t be affected by the outcome of this movie,” he adds.
Admitting that he has a lot at stake with this film, the engineer-turned-filmmaker doesn’t have any qualms about admitting that he is a serendipitous filmmaker. He had always aspired to be an engineer, but it was in the drudgery of the work that he tried to explore other options. “But the job gave me no satisfaction. I was working in this system where the result of my efforts was intangible. Someone was taking the credit for my work and I didn’t know what the end result of my efforts was,” he says.
After several unsuccessful attempts at making short films, his entry made it to Nalaiya Iyakkunar.
“In the process I started watching a lot of films from world cinema to Hollywood and Bengali films to know more about the art. I realised I had to make films for myself and began correcting my own mistakes. Earlier, I didn’t even know if I had to edit or dub first,” he says with a laugh.
A fan of several filmmakers like Bala, Balu Mahendra, Satyajit Ray, Ritwik Ghatak, Majid Majidi and Alfred Hitchcock, he says that there should be several crops of young filmmakers to promote competition and help them push boundaries in filmmaking.
“Take the example of Ghatak. I watched his film 1958 film Ajantrik. I was blown away by the camera angles he had chosen. Seeing that, I feel I am 60 years behind. The young brigade of filmmakers may not last in the long–term. If I am around for 10 years it will be a big achievement. The quality matters here. The change has to be there, otherwise it will be stagnant,” he adds.