Direction Dreams: ‘Mohan Raja taught me the art behind editing’
This weekly column brings to you a promising assistant director, and their aspirations and this week it is Sisily Prabhu Charles
Directors worked with: Yuvan, Saravanan, Mohan Raja
Key responsibilities: Writing, coordinating with the art department, and various other responsibilities as co-director
Films worked/working on: Kallattam, Ivan Vera Mathiri, Vellaikaran, an untitled Mohan Raja film
I have always been an active participant in theatre. I learnt how to tell a story on stage, and became obsessed with learning to present it right. I realised that there is no better platform than films to do that, and hence, filmmaking.
What do you like about the director you’re presently working with?
Mohan Raja is one of those rare directors who can be blindly trusted to deliver promising results. That’s why he is considered to be a ‘minimum guarantee director’. I learned from him the art of framing and viewing the story from different angles.
What’s one area of filmmaking that you were having a tough time with, but are better at now?
Editing. In my previous films, I learnt how to edit, but it’s only while working under Mohan Raja that I learnt the why of editing. He taught me the art behind it.
Who’s a director you wish you could work with?
Manikandan and Thiagarajan Kumararaja.
What’s the oddest thing you have seen or done as an AD?
We were shooting in an island near Thailand for Kallattam. We had to travel deep into the sea to reach the island and were warned to return to the shores by 8 pm. This meant that we had to wrap the shoot by 3 pm. However, we were only able to wrap up at 4 pm and what followed was a harrowing experience. While rowing back to the shores, the ocean currents were too strong, and at times, we even thought that we were going to drown.
The local man who assisted us with the rowing was not familiar with any of the languages that we knew and that added to the chaos. Somehow I managed to stay calm, even though this was my first time at sea. But one member of the cast was already a heart patient and he was totally rattled by the experience. He was complaining of pain and that’s when the gravity of the situation truly struck me. Since then, I have become a little scared of water bodies.
What do you want to change about Tamil cinema?
Producers in the industry still list out requisites like signing top heroes and other factors before even hearing a story. I really hope Tamil cinema witnesses an age where producers will place their faith on the strength of the story and the screenplay, and nothing else.
Debut films are often the result of compromises. What’s one area you will never be willing to compromise on?
I would not mind compromising on any little changes to the script that do not hamper the continuity. But I will not be willing to make any compromise that alters the flow or the logic of my story.
If not filmmaking, what then?
I have had a longing to write novels. But that, under no circumstance, will change my primary dream of becoming a filmmaker. I am also passionate about photography and would like to pursue it along with filmmaking.
What are your future projects?
I’m currently working on the script of a thriller.