Direction Dreams: Nayanthara saved my neck during Dora
This weekly column brings to you a promising assistant director, and their aspirations and this week it is Praveen, assistant to Vignesh Shivn and Doss Ramasamy
Which is the best film you’ve worked on so far?
Each has been a good experience, so I can’t really choose, but Dora was my first preview into something that I knew I was always passionate about. Working on it helped me learn about the intricacies of filmmaking. Thaana Serntha Kootam has taught me how improvisation can make the whole process of filming better.
What do you like about the directors you have worked with?
I like how Vignesh Shivn is not hesitant and has no ego issues about seeking clarifications on the script. Sometimes, the discussion happens on the sets. If he thinks something needs to be clarified or double checked, he opens it up for discussion immediately.
What is the one thing that you’ve learnt from the directors you have worked with?
I like their adaptability and spontaneous ability to quickly think of an alternative and execute it in such a way that makes the alternative as impressive as the original.
What’s the oddest thing you have done as an AD?
For Dora, we had fit a car with an automatic gearbox system. But it malfunctioned. So we ended up using a binding system which helped us control and operate the car from outside without anyone being inside the car. Thus, the scenes where the car moves without a driver were shot. We didn’t have to use CG. We shot the car driving by itself by fixing a reverse and then filming the movements. The tricky part about using this was that if we wanted to film the car turning right, the car had to turn left. This was very hard.
There is another incident that tops this though. The car met with minor accidents many times (fortunately, no one was hurt). But one day, Nayanthara brought a special package that was blessed by the temples. I don’t believe in god, but surprisingly from that day, there were no accidents on the set.
Have you ever been starstruck?
I was starstruck by Nayanthara. She’s such a nice person though! She’s often saved the neck of many an assistant director by taking the blame on herself when a scene goes wrong, even if it’s because of a mistake we did.
For instance, during the shoot of Dora, there was a scene that I almost ruined. The stunt choreographer was annoyed, but then, Nayanthara saved my neck and instead said that the fault was not mine but hers. I was touched.
Who’s a director you wish you could work with, and why?
Vijay Milton. His Goli Soda had a profound impact on me.
What change would you like to see in Tamil cinema?
I hope the percentage of films that get released on Amazon Prime and Netflix increase. This is not only about piracy but also to give smaller films a better platform to be remembered for their efforts.
What are your future and upcoming projects?
I have written two scripts — one is a psychological horror and the other is a heist film.
Debut films are often the result of compromises. What’s one area you will never be willing to compromise on?
I will never compromise on the cast and crew that is required for my script. But I guess I wouldn’t really mind compromising on which of my two scripts goes into production first.