Direction Dreams: I predicted Baba’s result to Rajini sir
...says Assistant Director Chozhan, who has worked with directors Sundar C, Raghava Lawrence and Suresh Krissna, in this week's column
When did you realise cinema was your calling?
I’m a big fan of T Rajendar and K Bhagyaraj. Their films were the main reason why I fell in love with cinema. After finishing school I came to Chennai to join the industry, but faced a lot of rejections. I finally got my break as an AD through director Dhalapathi’s Namma Annachi in 1994. I’ve worked on more than 40 films and am a co-director now.
What have you learned from your directors?
Dhalapathi sir is one of the most cool-headed people I’ve met. Even if the main artiste fails to turn up to the spot, he remains calm and shoots another scene with the available artistes. Sundar C has a clear vision of what he wants on screen. Even if the ADs bombard him with suggestions, he is very quick to pick the best one. He also knows the pulse of audience and what makes them laugh.
Raghava Lawrence master improvises a lot on the sets. He often changes the dialogues at the last moment and the final output ends up being much better than what was in the script. It is not easy for a person to multitask as a lead actor, director, and choreographer. But he somehow does it all with ease.
What’s the oddest or most memorable thing you have seen or done as an AD?
When working on Kizhakku Veluthachu, I was in-charge of the clapboard for a song featuring Silk Smitha. It was surreal and I was quite nervous. She noticed my nervousness and winked at me. From that day on, I wasn’t able to see her as a sex symbol. She was one of the noblest souls I’ve met in my life, and I was devastated when she died.
Another memorable incident happened during Rajini sir’s Baba. We happened to be travelling in the same car before the film’s release, and Rajini sir asked my opinion of the film. I confessed my doubts about whether it would be accepted by the audience, but he assured me the film would be a success. My premonition came true, unfortunately, and Rajini sir was magnanimous enough to later say, “I should have listened to the opinion of others.”
What’s one thing that you think you can bring to Tamil cinema?
There are a lot of social issues that need to be addressed through cinema. But at the same time films shouldn’t bore the audience. So I want to make films that are high on humour with an underlying social message. I also have a thirst to make raw and realistic cinema, but I will bankroll these myself if I end up making it big with the other kind of films.
Who would be the dream cast and/or crew for your debut project?
I was actually supposed to make my directorial debut with a film starring Sundar C in the lead. But, unfortunately, it got dropped last year due to production issues. I would also love to make a film with Raghava Lawrence sir, but he’s busy with his acting and direction commitments for the next few years at least. I feel Dhanush, Udhayanidhi, or Arulnithi would be apt for the scripts I have in hand right now.