Direction Dreams: Sundar C sir knows how to get the best from actors even when they are not in their best mood
...says Saravanan, who has worked with directors Prabhudheva, Sundar C, Thankar Bachan, in this weekly column, which brings to you a promising assistant director, and their aspirations
Films worked on: Vedi, Ainthaam Padai, Ammavin Kaipesi
Directors worked with: Prabhudheva, Sundar C, Thankar Bachan, Badri
Main responsibilities: Art department, editing, artiste co-ordination, costumes, and location scouting
When did you realise cinema was your calling?
To be a part of the film industry was my dream since childhood. After college, I wanted to join the Film Institute in Taramani so I came to Chennai. The friends I made then said that practical knowledge is more helpful than studying, so I decided to become an AD.
What have you learned from your directors?
Prabhudheva sir never gets tired. He will happily work round the clock and that briskness is contagious. Technically speaking, he is the one who taught me that the grammar of filmmaking can be adjusted to our liking. For example, in a scene that would require a close-up, he would go for a wide-angle shot. As for Thankar Bachan sir, the way he etches a character with his own ideologies is interesting. Sundar C sir knows how to get the best from actors even when they are not in their best mood. The way he handles top actors and still manages to do films with an extensive cast list is mind-blowing.
What’s the oddest or most memorable thing you have seen or done as an AD?
While shooting for Vedi in Kolkatta, we needed a junior artist for the role of a beggar in one scene. Despite much searching, we couldn't find one. Considering how shabby I was looking because of how busy I'd been that day, they thought I could pull off the role and I went ahead with it (laughs). Unfortunately, that scene didn't make the final cut.
Another time, when I was writing something on set, I was sweating profusely and the sweat was dripping down my hand on to the paper, making it wet. Vivekh sir spotted this and asked why I was working so much. When I explained I had so much to do, he coolly said, "Don't worry, be happy." We liked the line so much that it became a recurring dialogue in Ainthaam Padai and it became one of his famous lines over the years.
What’s one area of filmmaking you had a tough time with, but are better at now?
I had a hard time wrapping my head around how a director can trick the audience into believing they were seeing one thing when what was shown was completely different. In Ainthaam Padai, there's a sequence where Vivekh sir has to cling on to an umbrella as it slides over telephone lines. A part of it was shot in Thirunelveli, a little in Pollachi, and the rest in Chennai. But to the audience, it looks like one single sequence. The matching work took me a while to get used to and I learned it completely when I sat with the director during editing.
What's the one thing you think you can bring to Tamil cinema?
I think films these days rarely talk about humanity. My stories will heavily rely on them as they will be about the people I've seen in my life. I also want to convey my point in a simple manner rather than confusing the audience.
Who would be the dream cast and/or crew for your debut project?
I care more about the crew than the cast. For sure, I want Ramji sir and Kasi Viswanathan sir for cinematography and editing, respectively