Direction Dreams: 'The sets need to be safer for stunt teams'
...says, Ashok G, the assistant director, who has worked in films like Karungali, Naalaiya Pozhuthum, and Thirudan Police
In chat with: Ashok G
Films worked on: Karungali, Naalaiya Pozhuthum Unnodu, Ajantha, Saguni, Thirudan Police
Directors worked with: Mu Kalanjiyam, K Moorthy Kannan, Kathaga Thirumavalavan, Shankar Dayal, Caarthick Raju
Main responsibilities: Scheduling, artiste co-ordination, location scouting and post-production
When did you realise cinema was your calling?
You know how, at a certain age, we decide that a girl is interested in us, simply because guys around us would convince us so? That's how my love for filmmaking happened. I was good with school competitions such as extempore and drama and those around me convinced me I was made for cinema. When I reached Chennai, I already felt like a director.
What have you learned from your directors?
Kathaga Thirumavalavan sir was the one with whom I got to work first and he laid the foundation to what I now know about filmmaking. He taught me how to conceive and execute a scene. As Ajantha was shot in five languages simultaneously, we shot every scene five times with different artistes. Kalanjiyam sir has a military background, so the command he has over his team is commendable.
What’s the oddest or most memorable thing you have seen or done as an AD?
While shooting for Karungali, we had to shoot a sequence up a hill in the Sathyamangalam forest reserve. There was a tree in the middle of a stream and the locals told us that the water was full of snakes and leeches. But we were keen to have a shot of Anjali ma'am there and when Kalanjiyam sir asked me, I got in the water immediately with my phone and wallet in my hand. We carried her to the other side, making sure that her clothes remained dry. Sir got in the water as well; that's how committed he was.
What’s an area of filmmaking you had a tough time with, but are better at now?
Even if you read many books, it's hard to specialise in screenplay writing. There's so much to learn. Despite being in the industry for 20 years, screenplay writing is an aspect that surprises me even today. It's funny to see people remaking films without even changing the screenplay grammar and trying to send it to the Oscars.
What is your take on present-day cinema?
The filmmakers are creative than ever and because of it, the industry is amazing from a creative aspect.
What's one thing that you think you can bring to Tamil cinema?
I hope we make shooting spaces safer for stunt teams. During Saguni, this veteran stuntman named Meenakshi Sundaram got himself hurt and his hand was bleeding profusely. They didn't have a ambulance to help him. I rushed to buy him things needed for first aid.
Moreover, the industry has a lot of inexperienced people now. Maanga vikkuravan, thenga vikkuravan laam padam panna vanthudaraanga. I'm not asking them to do a course on filmmaking but they should at least learn the basics. The Tamil film industry is more than 90 years old and it has a structure. In the name of trying to be different, they shouldn't push it back.
Who would be the dream cast and/or crew for your debut project?
For my script, I need a female actor who can pull off a strong performance, and since I've worked with Anjali ma'am, I know she can pull it off.