Direction Dreams: You can’t teach someone to make films, says Arun Prakash V
...says Arun Prakash V, the assistant director, who has worked in films like Damaal Dumeel, Enakkul Oruvan, Maalai Nerathu Mayakkam
Films worked on: Damaal Dumeel, Enakkul Oruvan, Maalai Nerathu Mayakkam
Directors worked with: Sree, Prasad Ramar, Gitanjali Selvaraghavan
Main responsibilities: Costumes, artiste co-ordination, art department, editing
In conversation with Arun Prakash V
When did you realise cinema was your calling?
I am not a cinephile like my father, who I remember crying in theatres watching films like Thulladha Manamum Thullum. From my childhood, it was, on some level, clear that cinema would become my profession. My father had wanted to give a shot but due to circumstances, he could not. My father is no more, but the conversations we had about cinema will always stay with me.
I was barely 18 when Thulluvadho Ilamai came out, and as it was an adult film, my friends enjoyed the film for other reasons. However, I was hooked to what Selvaraghavan was trying to convey. I started following his work, and when Kaadhal Kondein and 7G Rainbow Colony came out, I lied about going elsewhere and watched these films. In a way, these films have inspired me to become what I am today.
What have you learned from your directors?
Sree sir is a perfectionist and whatever he has written on paper, he wants to see in the monitor. He never shoots needless shots, a rare trait. Prasad sir too is strong with writing, and a creative personality. He improvises a lot and that difference is often magical. His sets are organised and quiet. I was able to learn the female perspective both on the sets and in the making when it came to Gitanjali Selvaraghavan ma'am.
What’s the oddest or most memorable thing you have seen or done as an AD?
After shooting Enakkul Oruvan, we realised that some patchwork was pending. Certain people who worked on the film took all the clothes including a t-shirt Siddharth sir had to wear to maintain continuity. These guys were out of town and we could not get those costumes. Considering it's a peculiar shade of yellow, we could not find it in shops either. I found a similar shade in clothes we had previously used on another. Overnight, we found a tailor who stitched the cloth to suit Siddharth sir's measurements and also added the patterns the original t-shirt had. The team did not know about these issues, till shooting got over.
What’s an area of filmmaking you had a tough time with, but are better at now?
Considering the duties an AD has on the sets, he is often not in a position to be behind the camera and learn the art. In any case, you can’t teach someone how to make films. It’s ultimately personal. If I liked a certain type of house, I could build a story around it. Someone else could build a story around a trashcan. Honing your taste is a talent. The other aspects of filmmaking are easier to learn. YouTube has thousands of videos on every aspect of filmmaking.
What is your take on present-day cinema?
In recent times, our industry has been heading towards the right path. A few years back, it was harder to become a filmmaker. There were people waiting decades to be an AD. The industry is more welcoming now. Earlier, you would be asked questions about who you had worked for, fetch references… Today, passion and a good story can help you make a film. Even YouTubers are making films and there is more than one platform to showcase talent.
What's one thing that you think you can bring to Tamil cinema?
Off-late, apart from a handful of major production houses, no one is producing films and because of that, the number of smaller films have reduced substantially. A couple of years ago, we had brilliant films made on a low budget. Films such as Dhuruvangal Pathinaaru and 8 Thottakkal came out then. Now, the big banners are concentrating only on films made on a larger scale. I’d convince producers to come up with more pocket-friendly substance-oriented films.
Who would be the dream cast and/or crew for your debut project?
The script I have is a crime thriller about a cop going bad. I find Arvind Swami to be a perfect fit for the lead role.