While Nitin Sathyaa and Pichumani are making their production and directorial debuts, respectively, with the Jai-starrer Jarugandi this Friday, they have been around for the past decade as part of the Venkat Prabhu film family — the former as an actor and the latter as an assistant director. With them donning new hats, we have a chat with the pair.
So how did Jarugandi start in the first place?
Pichumani: Nitin had an idea to produce a film and he was listening to various scripts. At this time, editor Praveen KL, with whom I share all my one-liners, recommended me and my story to him. My director (Venkat Prabhu) also had something nice to say about my story to Nitin. So given their recommendations, Nitin felt it was time to meet me and listen to the story.
Without their recommendations, would you have listened to this story?
Nitin Sathyaa: I’ve known Pichumani from the beginning. I knew his style of working and we connected well back then itself. When I started out as a producer, I got a lot of scripts from people I didn’t know. Maybe if I hadn’t known him, I might have asked him to politely wait in line. And once he narrated the story, I had a lot of confidence in the script as such.
Tell us about this interesting title — Jarugandi.
N: I have been acting for more than a decade and no one has asked me the meaning behind my film’s titles. But the moment I turn producer, this is what everyone asks me. (laughs) The film moves at a very solid pace and as it flows, you will be able to find out how the title is related to the film.
P: I have to thank Venkat Prabhu sir. He had the same title for another story to be produced under Black Ticket Company label. But once Nitin okayed the script, I was able to get Venkat Prabhu sir to give me the title.
Based on the trailer, the story seems to have a very hyperlink feel to it a la Maanagaram.
P: Actually, no one has asked us this yet. Not only is the story interlinked, each character is interlinked, and their actions also have an impact on the others. So the hyperlink stays till the climax when there is a payoff.
N: Since you brought up Maanagaram, I would like to clarify that Jarugandi has no connection to that film.
P: Yeah. Inspire aagi ezhudhala; yosichu ezhudhinen.
The tone of the film, from the trailer at least, seems very earthy...
N: This film has two pillars: Praveen KL, whose editing brought a new colour to the film, and cinematographer RD Rajasekar, who is responsible for the look of the film.
P: I have never seen someone as prepared as Rajasekar sir. He used to read the script thrice before shoot every day and used to check the tones 3-4 times before every shot. He has worked with the likes of AR Murugadoss and Gautham Menon. At one point, he told me to just prep the artistes and get them to perform. Mathadhellam naan paathukrennu sonnaru.
Tell us about the casting.
P: We cast people who we felt would fit the story and that was our only basis of selection.
N: And most of the actors in the film were our first choice for their respective roles. We have a stable of nearly 11 heroes in our group. Given that this film is an action-based comedy, we felt Jai was the best fit. Also, it’s a middle-class setting and Jai suits that milieu. Robo Shankar and Daniel Annie Pope too were the actors Pichumani had in mind when he modelled their characters.
How did you pick Reba Monica John to play the female lead?
N: We wanted a fresh face for the role, but at the same time were particular that they shouldn’t just be a pretty face. Reba is an actor who is super choosy with her projects. She is photogenic and looks great on the screen, but is also a wonderful actor. We took her in after auditions.
P: The second half of the film actually travels with her.
How much of Venkat Prabhu’s influence do you feel is there in your work?
N: I think this is a wrong question to ask Pichumani. He might be subconsciously influenced. For instance, Venkat Prabhu is known for breaking a serious scene down and trying to find the comedy in it. There are few places where Pichumani does the same, but his style is different. And, dare I say, better.
P: There is no pub songs, no duet songs, no double meaning dialogues in Jarugandi. You can come and watch this film as a family.
N: Didn’t I say he had to a different style? (laughs)