Location Diaries: The joy of working with a sensitive director
This weekly column details the fascinating encounters that often take place on the sets of a film and this week it is Sillukkaruppatti
Working in director Halitha Shameem's Sillukaruppatti was a refreshing experience for heroine Sunaina. "The first thing I noticed with Halitha was how chilled out and warm she was when she came for the narration and later, the look trials. There was no stress nor any ego hassles and things went very smoothly. I noticed the same quality of total informality on sets as well. Many directors get tense if things aren't just right. But Halitha would just get up and move any object or come and adjust my hair if she felt it needed to be done. She wouldn't wait to call her assistants to do the needful. She was totally a hands-on director. This made the entire shoot a novel and enjoyable experience," recalls Sunaina.
But there were a few anxious moments as well. "I was totally in awe of my co-star Samuthirakani sir. We had briefly worked together in Neerparavai but that was only for one scene. With him being such a renowned performer, I was very anxious to get my lines perfectly right in front of him. It was tough to keep up with his speed of dialogue delivery, spontaneity, and improvisation," says Sunaina. For one scene shot inside a house, the duo had to argue. The minute-long shot had no cuts and there was total silence on the sets in preparation. "He had to yell and we had to argue, so I needed to act, remember my dialogues on cue, and react to him in anger, all at once, without a break. I was terrified, but I didn't show it." Though she hid her anxiety, Halitha and cinematographer Yamini somehow noticed the subtle signs of her nervousness. "I was totally surprised when Halitha came up to me and told me to take a minute to pull myself together before giving the shot. I don't know how they noticed but I was so grateful for their sensitivity."
Halitha displayed the same sensitivity towards the kids on the sets. "When they were in no mood to shoot, Halitha would play with them with toys she had specially arranged and calm them down till they were ready. She knew exactly how to ease things. I really admired the kind of energetic, creative, and informal vibes she gave out on sets. It made the entire shoot of Sillukauppatti such a smooth and memorable experience for me," says Sunaina.