Direction Dreams: Audiences care more about the story than the lead actor
...says Jayashree P, assistant director, who has worked in films like K13, Petromax, Untitled Stone Bench web series
Films worked on: K13, Petromax, Untitled Stone Bench web series
Directors worked with: Barath Neelakantan, Rohin Venkatesan, Rohit Nandakumar
Main responsibilities: Pre-production, costumes, cinematography assistance
In conversation with Jayashree P
When did you realise cinema was your calling?
I did my schooling in Kolkata and to keep me in touch with Tamil, my parents made me watch a lot of Tamil films. I used to be glued to movie channels, Tamil as well as other languages like Hindi. I found the changes in the way a story is told in various languages intriguing. I returned to Chennai for my college and applied for Viscom because a close friend did. Somehow, they didn't get through but I got a seat. I was interested in media and worked in a media house for a couple of years before getting into films.
What have you learned from your directors?
I learnt scheduling from Barath sir. He plans everything in advance and has it all ready as excel sheets. So, for every scene, we would have everything planned and ready to shoot. He also knows how to keep in touch with a lot of people. Rohin sir is extremely calm and works a lot on the script. Rohit sir knows how to plan and shoot; he plans the shot division perfectly.
What’s the oddest or most memorable thing you have seen or done as an AD?
We shot primarily outdoors for the Stone Bench web series and I was given the job of clearing the crowd, a tough task for someone with a diminutive stature like me. People would not listen and kept disturbing the frame. I didn't know what to do but I knew it was my duty to stop the flow of traffic, so I just sat on the road. Seeing a girl sitting on the road, everyone stopped -- at least to check what was happening. And meanwhile, we shot the scenes.
What’s one area of filmmaking you had a tough time with, but are better at now?
As far as Tamil cinema is concerned, there's a belief that everyone would expect your full bound script to be in Tamil. So, as someone who doesn't know how to write in Tamil, I was initially extremely apprehensive about writing a script. It really took a toll on my self-confidence. But then, after a while, I figured out that it's not as much of a challenge as I thought it would be. I am writing a script now in English and Hindi, languages that I am comfortable with.
What is your take on the present-day cinema?
The hero worship scene, despite reducing by the day, is still prevalent in our industry. This has resulted in stars giving more importance to what their character has to do rather than the story itself. The audience today, however, have started caring more about the story.
What's one change you wish to see in Tamil cinema?
I feel that women characters are very one dimensional. They just have to look pretty and are mostly silly character-wise. Though there more female-centric films these days, women's representation in star films seems to always stick to stereotypes. The male characters invariably have more to do when compared to their female counterparts. The latter don't have a backstory or an arc. Similarly, supporting actors too have nothing much to do in these films. It would be great if these characters too are given some importance and fleshed out well.
Who would be the dream cast and/or crew for your debut project?
Sushmita Sen has always been a favourite actor of mine since childhood and her choice of scripts has always intrigued me. She goes for strong and interesting scripts. I would love to work with her.