Year-Long Research Encapsulated in a 50-day Shoot - The New Indian Express

Year-Long Research Encapsulated in a 50-day Shoot

Published: 12th May 2014 07:33 AM

Last Updated: 12th May 2014 10:34 AM

The upcoming biopic Ramanujan was shot in just 50 days. That’s two films in less than two months, as the film will be released in both Tamil and English in June end. Director Gnana Rajasekaran says the shooting for both sessions was done simultaneously. “Sixty per cent of the movie was shot in India and 40 per cent in London. While the actors here first delivered the dialogues in Tamil and then repeated it in English, the English actors did the other way round,” says Rajasekaran, who is said to have done a year-long research prior to writing the script for the movie.

Actor Kevin McGowan, who plays the role of professor Hardy, the man who exposes Ramanujan’s talent to the world and other English actors in the movie, were given training in Tamil diction and asked to memorise the dialogues. Same  was the case with Tamil actors who had to deliver their dialogues in English as well. “We have heard Tamil actors speak English. But in Ramanujan, probably for the first time, you can hear English actors speak Tamil,” he says.

The shooting spots included Ramanujan’s house in Kumbakonam — the same house where he ate and slept, the Kumbakonam High School and Kumbakonam College. Rajasekaran says they had to get special permission to shoot in the house which is a National Heritage building today. Ramanujan had studied in the old Pachaiyappa’s college near the Central Railway station, in the then old Madras,  for a year. Since the building is not at that spot anymore, they recreated a similar location. This was followed by the team hopping to the Nellore Port Trust where the mathematician had met the Nellore collector. And finally the Cambridge University in London, where he had spent five years of his life.

Since there is no actual biography available on Ramanujan, he had to resort to several works written by people who had studied his life. “But we needed something original to recreate his period—the 1900s. So we depended more on his friends’ comments which were written on souvenirs. Also, Ramanujan’s wife lived long, till 1998. She had communicated a lot to a person who had compiled it all in a book. We took that material,” he says.

While the research work was challenging enough, it was only the beginning of an arduous journey. During the 1900s people had a different look, half-shaven heads and a ponytail or kudumi. “Boys were reluctant to sport kudumis. They were worried about what their friends might think when they go back to their college. My costume designer, also my wife, got girls to appreciate their look in kudumis. The trick worked. And we suddenly got around 30 guys for the scene,” says Rajasekaran with a laugh. In Cambridge, they recruited 100 junior English artistes.

After Bharathi (2000) and Periyar (2007), Ramanujan is Rajasekaran’s third biopic. A scene from the Hollywood movie Goodwill Hunting inspired him to create the biopic. Though biopics are his first love, he is planning to make a humourous flick next. “I have a good sense of humour which I am not able to use in biopics,” he says.

Ramanujan stars Abhinay Vaddi as Ramanujan, Suhasini Maniratnam as his mother, Bhama as his wife and Kevin McGowan.

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