Direction Dreams: Even foreign technicians are in awe of Shankar’s vision

This weekly column brings to you a promising assistant director, and their aspirations and this week it is Arulsakthi Murugan, assistant of Shankar 
Direction Dreams: Even foreign technicians are in awe of Shankar’s vision

Directors worked with - Jagadish, Shankar

Key responsibilities - Handles multiple filmmaking responsibilities  

Films worked/working on - Nanbenda, 2.0

What do you like about the directors you have worked with? 

Director Jagadish’s commitment and dedication is something simply remarkable. As for director Shankar, he plans every little detail of every aspect of the film in advance. Detailing is everything to him. His vision is mind-boggling. It’s impossible for people to understand how much he thinks through about his vision. Some of the foreign technicians who have worked on 2.0 are in awe of him. Also, he is a perfectionist and will not rest until every little part of his plan gets executed. At this age, he possesses a speed that many youngsters can’t match.

What have you learned about films from your directors?

Director Jagadish taught me the value of hard work, and the importance of retaining drive. From director Shankar, I’ve learned the importance of carefully monitoring all the effort that goes into a film. Otherwise, it will all be in vain.  

What’s one area of filmmaking that you initially had a tough time with?

It’s not quite a filmmaking area, but I was short of confidence. Not anymore though. I believe I can pull off any daunting task and often, it is that conviction that gets reflected on screen. Also initially, I didn’t quite understand the reason certain decisions were taken behind screen, but with experience, I’ve understood all that.

Have you ever been star-struck?

Absolutely. In my first film, I got two work with Nayanathara and I was star-struck by her. I have always dreamt of meeting director Shankar and having a short conversation with him. When I was interviewed by him, I froze. And then while working with  Rajini sir again, there were multiple instances where I just stood in awe of how he carries himself and the way he works.   

What's the most memorable event during the course of your journey?

I can list multiple instances but here are a handful. On a particular day, the shoot commenced at early morning and it got wrapped at 4 am the next day. That being a long leg, there was a slight dip in our energy levels (due to exhaustion). Director Shankar had asked us all to assemble together as a team and we thought we are going to get told off for not maintaining our energy levels. To our surprise, he had a friendly conversation and even told us a few jokes. We got back to our shot and surprisingly, regained our vigour and energy.

Similarly, for a sequence, the entire crew witnessed Rajinikanth’s performance and post that, absolute silence followed. Everyone was so mesmerized that it took a while for the entire crew to give a huge round of applause.

Often, it is said that when you start working on your passion, the passion goes out of your work. What about for you?

I have never been in such a phase. Apart from the passion, the team around me has always provided me with an inspiration that leaves no room for such complacency. When I witness the intensity of the work invested by the lightmen and those who work on the crane, I always get inspired.

Debut films are often the result of compromises. What’s one area you will never be willing to compromise on?

I will not compromise on anything that affects the narrative. Other compromises, like schedules and dates, I don’t mind. In fact, it is a necessary part of filmmaking and one that tutors you the importance of overcoming crisis.

What do you want to change about Tamil cinema?

The recent leaks of stills, footages and even entire films before their release is disheartening. Apart from the investment in such projects, it also involves the hard work of people who never get the spotlight. Think of people like the driver who sleeps only for a few hours because he has to pick the directorial team at early hours. But I'm glad that steps are being taken to curb this but the ball lies in the audience’s court. Nowadays they have been encouraging enough to avoid watching films through such platforms. I hope this continues.

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