Actor Shiva recounts stories from Muthukumaran’s 'Saloon' sets
This weekly column details the fascinating encounters that often take place on the sets of a film.
Shooting for director Muthukumaran’s Saloon, actor Shiva says he had an interesting experience, doing something he had never done before. He elaborates by saying, “This is my first film in a period setting. One part is set before Independence and the other in the Eighties. I play a saloon owner in this comedy drama. Getting into character each day on the set, was both interesting and challenging.”
For getting into the skin of a pre-Independence character, Shiva had to mentally transport himself into that era. “We were not surrounded by so many gadgets and technology and that led to more human interaction. People were more respectful of each other and valued human relationships. They were calmer than we are today. My whole body language started to change accordingly.” His costumes also helped him greatly. “When I arrived daily on sets with my period costume and hairstyle, I could feel a stronger vibe and connect with my character.”
While playing the role, he also began to get insights into the period. “During the British rule, people had to get permission even for so many daily tasks. We were totally subservient. Each day, I realised even more, the value of our independence and the people who sacrificed their lives for our freedom.”
According to the actor, going to sets each day and meeting the large ensemble cast of around 30 people, including British actors, veterans and youngsters, was akin to an energy boost.
He also dabbled in haircutting, being a saloon owner in the film. “ Yogi Babu plays a character who works in my saloon. So both of us had to do haircutting for a few shots.”
While cutting one junior actor’s hair, Shiva noticed he was very worried. “Apparently he had informed his wife about the film shoot but not about any haircut. Since we were only amateurs he was scared his wife would be furious if he returned with a bad haircut! So we were extra careful to just mildly snip his hair!”
For one Thiruvizha scene, Shiva and Yogi Babu had to dance. “I have two left feet and so even rehearsals are useless because I cannot repeat the same steps again! But when I saw Yogi Babu dancing next to me, my confidence levels went up and I managed to give the shots! “ he quips.
During breaks, Shiva had a good time chatting with senior actors like Chandrasekar. “He would recount shooting experiences and how vibrant filmmaking was in the 80s. Back then, going to the theatres was a festive experience. People enjoyed coming to the theatres dressed to the hilt, unlike the casual outing it has become today. Such discussions also helped transport me into that era for my 80s portions.”