Direction Dreams: It was impossible for an AD to be a part of story discussion, two decades ago
This weekly column brings to you a promising assistant director, and their aspirations and this week it is Sundar Vasu, assistant director of CS Amudhan, Lakshman, and Rajesh
Interview with Sundar Vasu
Directors worked with: CS Amudhan, Lakshman, and Rajesh
Films worked with: Romeo Juliet, Bogan, Tamizh Padam 2 and Azhagu Raja
Main responsibilities: Scripting, ensuring continuity and post-production
When did you realise your calling was cinema?
I am unable to recall the exact day I decided cinema is my life. I even worked as a daily wage labourer during high school holidays to survive in Chennai. I didn’t have good contacts, years went on, and a lot of films I worked on didn’t even hit the theatres. Gnabagam Varuthey, starring Venkat Prabhu, was officially my first film as an assistant director.
What is the one thing you learned from your directors?
Amudhan and Rajesh are cool on the sets. They never lose their temper and know how to extract work from actors and technicians without straining much. Lakshman, on the other hand, is extremely focussed, and serious on the day of the shoot, and once the schedule gets wrapped, he will be a different person altogether. He also makes sure that he ackonowledges assistants for their hard work.
When I helm my own film, I will be keen on maintaining my cool and giving credit to my team.
What’s one area of filmmaking that you had a tough time with, but are better at now?
It is maintaining the continuity between the scenes, hands down! Maintaining continuity in sequences that are shot over days is one of the toughest tasks in filmmaking. If an AD can get a hang of that, he can easily make a commercial film.
What is your take on present-day cinema?
I would say this is the golden phase of Tamil cinema. During my initial days, it would be impossible for an AD to even enter the story discussion room. But things have become simpler now. But youngsters who are just three-four short-films old are getting feature film chances today. I am also glad to see a lot of genre-specific films, which rely heavily on screenplay, and are being received well by the audience.
What’s the oddest or memorable thing you have seen or done as an AD?
Every day is an adventure for ADs. There are a lot of incidents of us reshooting a particular sequence to get continuity right. While shooting for Bogan, Nasser sir was very particular that he had to leave the spot at 6PM due to a personal commitment, but due to a technical glitch, we had to go for a retake and by the time we realised this, Nasser sir had started and was ten kilometres away from the spot. Since I was in charge of ensuring continuity, I had to convince him for the retake. But thankfully, Nasser sir was so kind, and he acted the scene again for us and at the end of the day, he quipped, “Enna plan panni dhaan ya vechchi senjiteenga.”
Can you tell us about your dream project?
I would like to cast Karthi or Hansika to play the lead in my debut film. As I’ve already worked in films starring them, I believe our comfort level will be good, and it will reflect on screen. I’m from a school of filmmakers who are known for commercial films/light-hearted comedies; so my debut will also be a full-fledged entertainer. I have almost finalised the script and I’m positive that I will be making my debut soon.