Direction Dreams: ‘Karthik Subbaraj lets us channel our inner directors’
This weekly column brings to you a promising assistant director, and their aspirations and this week it is Srinivasan Elangovan, assistant to Karthik Subbaraj
Srinivas Elangovan, is the assistant director to Karthik Subbaraj and has worked with him in Iraivi and Mercury. His main responsibilities are continuity management, post-production supervision, cinematography among other things.
I have always had a fascination for the visual medium. I assisted Karthik Subbaraj during his short film days, but had to take a hiatus from filmmaking as I had to gain financial stability.
I was heading an IT firm, and when I decided to take the plunge into filmmaking again, I quit that and went back to Karthik Subbaraj for tutelage.
What do you like about his style of filmmaking?
The fact that he is actually creating directors. He does not just stick to allocating tasks for us to complete. He wants us to think about it, find different perspectives to it, see whether we can add value in innovative ways. He makes us think and act like directors who would like to convey their thoughts on screen.
What is the one thing that you have learnt from him?
How to untie a small knot, build it into a expansive story and decorate it with minute details that add interesting layers to the story. I can confidently say that if a film enthusiast wants to learn everything about how to hide details in films, he need look no further than Karthik Subbaraj’s films.
What’s the oddest thing you have seen or done as an AD?
This wasn’t odd, so much as exciting. During the first press meet of Iraivi, Kathik surprised us. We were all just a part of the audience at the event and suddenly he called us on stage. He gave credit to our contributions and highlighted how we were instrumental in the making of the film. There was no necessity to do so but honouring us was such a remarkable thing he did.
What’s one area of filmmaking that you initially had a tough time with but are better at now?
The aesthetics of how to fill up the frame and how to consistently match the mood with camera movements. Initially, I used to understand cinematography through the concept of static framing. But now I have learnt how to match the depth of the frame with dynamic motions.
What do you think you can bring to Tamil cinema if given an opportunity to direct?
Adaptations from novels and books. We do have a few films based on Sujatha’s novels but apart from that, there is a serious lack of adaptations. There are so many great novels and stories that deserve to be told on the big screen.
What do you want to change about Tamil cinema?
Transparency, when it comes to stating the collections of a film. We lack the system for officially declaring the box-office revenue of a film. Many industries practise this and I hope the recent initiatives by TFPC will help.
Which is the best film you’ve worked on so far, and what were your contributions?
Iraivi was my first film and it exposed me to many new areas of filmmaking. But Mercury wins because through it, I learnt specialisation in various departments.