I’m surprised we haven’t made a film about a police control room: Sam Anton
The director talks about his new cop thriller, 100, which is hitting the screens on Friday. The film stars Atharvaa and Hansika in the lead.
They say a filmmaker has won half the battle if he can get the audience excited with a one-line summary of his story. You could say this about Sam Anton and his films. His debut, Darling, was about a 'touch-sensitive ghost'. His second, Enakku Innoru Per Irukku, was about a haemophobic gangster. His upcoming film, 100, starring Atharvaa, is about a ‘control room cop’. He prefers these ‘simple ideas’, he says. "Appo dhaan amma, paati laam excite aavanga. The inspiration for my second film came from Vivekh sir's Dada Mani character from Thennavan."
Apart from being Sam's most serious film to date, 100 is also Atharvaa's first cop film. The script demanded a young actor without a track record of police films, says Sam. "I didn’t want the audience to come in with a preconceived police image of the actor. His performance in Eetti gave me the confidence that he could pull off this role." Asked whether he had a tough time acquiring what seems like a potentially sought-after title, he says, "Actually, we were lucky that it was easy. The title was available, and we just had to get a no-objection certificate from the makers of Avasara Police 100. This is the best title for the film as it is about the happenings of a police control room."
Sam goes on to talk about the research that went into the film's script. "It is the kind of film that can't be made without proper background work. We weren't allowed inside the control room for obvious security reasons. Instead, we spoke with cops who have worked there and collected details from them." He hopes his film will create awareness about the control room. "All of us would have noticed anonymous voices constantly instructing cops about their next move via their walkie-talkies. But few of us know that they are policemen and not some telephone agent. Somehow, our films have not touched upon this subject before."
A police procedural drama can be a tricky affair, as it’s important that the filmmakers get the audience to understand proceedings without dumbing down the script. Sam’s two-film experience, he hopes, will come in handy here. "I could have envisioned 100 as a super-serious film and began it with a grim voiceover that explains how things happen in a control room, but I think that would leave audiences clueless,” he says. “That’s why I wrote Atharvaa and Yogi Babu's characters as new recruits who are themselves learning about the setup. This way, the audience gets to know these details along with them."
In many of our hero-centric films, female leads get reduced to cameos and song appearances. But Sam will have none of it. "I believe female characters are the backbone of any film. 100 has three strong female characters played by Hansika, Harija, and Divya, respectively. They add much value to the script and we didn’t write any of these roles for commercial reasons."
Sam is also eyeing the release of his next film, Gurkha, starring Yogi Babu in the lead. The film, likely to get its release before the end of May, marks his first production venture, along with his longtime friend, editor Ruben. The film is about a mall’s security guard, who's on a mission to save people from a terrorist attack, and its teaser drew comparisons with 2009's Paul Blart: Mall Cop. Sam replies, "While it may share that idea, I’d say this is more like Die Hard, made with a funny guy as the lead character. We have tried it as a political satire and can assure you that it isn't a rip-off."