Direction Dreams: 'Rajinikanth is a fantastic human being'
This weekly column brings to you a promising assistant director, and their aspirations and this week it is Jeny Dolly Antony
Jeny Dolly Antony
Director worked with: Pa Ranjith
Key responsibilities: Costumes, Casting, and dialogues
Films worked on: Kabali, Kaala
Why filmmaking? How did it start?
The visual medium has always enchanted me. I was specifically interested in the documentary style of filmmaking. I met Pa Ranjith one day and he said he was on the lookout for female assistant directors for his next feature. I initially recommended few friends of mine, but it didn't materialize. As we were trying to figure out alternatives, the discussion moved on to how I can assist him. I was little reluctant initially as I was more keen on the documentary style. Ranjith then asked me to give it a try and convinced me that I could move on if I didn’t like it. That changed everything.
What do you like about Ranjith?
He is self-critical about his work. He is confident about what he is trying to create, but still looks for improvements to make it better. He often asks his directorial team for suggestions and allows a lot of space for individual contributions
Also the way he treats women with utmost respect is simply remarkable. This is evident from the way he etches his female characters. They have a beauty and a voice of their own, and that is how he treats the women in real life too. He gives them their own space and the respect they deserve. He often talks about his mother and I think it stems from there. Ranjith is a genuine person and a fantastic human being with an unfeigned concern for society.
What have you learned about films from him?
I've learnt how to narrate a story dynamically. I have also learnt this: to not only stay true to the soul of the film but also how to communicate the heart and spirit of the film in a way that anyone can understand.
Have you ever been star struck?
Yes, by Rajinikanth. His magnetism is remarkable. The entire unit clapped when he delivered a powerful dialogue in a single take.
What’s the oddest or most memorable thing you have seen or done as an AD?
There are many memorable days from the Kaala shoot when we managed what seemed almost impossible at first. For example, we shot the fight sequence that is set in rain on a flyover in Marine Drive. Apart from the hassles of getting permission, we faced crowd control issues and other execution troubles. But somehow we pulled it off. Also for the climax sequence, we had to sprinkle powder over people. It had to be coordinated and done perfectly as it is tough to go for retakes after that. Around 2000 people were present and I thought it was all but impossible, but thanks to everyone on the directorial team and all the junior artists, we managed it.
Which is the best film you’ve worked on so far?
If filmmaking doesn’t work out, what then?
I would love to translate books and teach. I'm planning to pursue these regardless of the success of my filmmaking career.
What do you think you can bring to Tamil cinema if given an opportunity to direct?
I would like to make futuristic films, and also make films that are driven by female leads.