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Stunt Silva: Not Gautham Menon or Rajamouli or Shankar, it is Peter Hein who taught me cinema- Cinema express

Stunt Silva: Not Gautham Menon or Rajamouli or Shankar, it is Peter Hein who taught me cinema

The stunt choreographer-turned-filmmaker discusses his directorial debut Chithirai Sevvanam, starring Pooja Kannan and Samuthirakani

Published: 03rd December 2021
Stunt Silva: Not Gautham Menon or Rajamouli or Shankar, it is Peter Hein who taught me cinema

Action choreographer Stunt Silva is an important name in commercial cinema across the South Indian states. The man who is known for elevating the image of heroes to superheroes through his stunt sequences took everyone by surprise when he announced his directorial debut in Chithirai Sevvanam, a “simple family drama” that is now ready for a direct OTT premiere on ZEE5 on December 3. “Stunt choreography is filmmaking, in a way. If an action film has 40 minutes of stunt sequences, I become responsible for it, starting from the emotions of the characters to the sound design. So, directing a full-fledged film came naturally to me," he says. Curiously, he wanted to make his debut with a comedy. "I wanted to make a film like Galatta Kalyanam or Michael Madhana Kama Rajan, but director Vijay sir requested me to direct a script of his. In fact, he was the one to motivate me to take up filmmaking in the first place.”

Silva credits Peter Hein, who he assisted early during his career, for nurturing the filmmaker in him. “I learnt perfection from him. He always encouraged me to be an all-rounder, a professional who could be in control of all the departments. I have worked with top directors like Gautham Menon, Vijay, Linguswamy, Venkat Prabhu, Rajamouli and Shankar, and have taken inspiration from each of them, and yet, it is Peter master who taught me cinema."

He shares that he doesn't have a “solid method” for direction and that it is the actors who determine it. "Some actors demand that you enact a scene, some require a detailed narration, and some get ready just by reading the script. It is not in my hands. But when it comes to stunt choreography, I rehearse with my crew multiple times to make sure that on the shoot date, I only have to signal at them to get the job done."

His debut directorial, Chithirai Sevvanam, touches upon serious issues like NEET and a family affected by cybercrime, and yet, he believes that films shouldn't be expected to carry life lessons. "Cinema isn't a school to lecture audiences on dos and don'ts. Through Chithirai Sevvanam, I have tried to present the life of a loving father and daughter and the challenges life throws at them. I would never want my films to be preachy."

Silva is an avid reader and feels that his love for literature enhances his creativity. "I read a lot and when I come across a war sequence in a novel, say Ponniyin Selvan, the descriptions are so picturesque that I am able to visualise entire episodes in my head. Inspirations from such books help me come up with something different in each film I work on. I interact with the director and actor a lot to create a style that suits both the actor and the character he is playing." He adds that it is only teamwork, and the cooperation of every department that makes action blocks memorable, and cites his recent film, Maanaadu, as an example. "The mandapam fight sequence was a hit among the audience as the cinematographer and the art team were prepared to recreate the same sequence multiple times. If they had given up, the scene wouldn't have been possible. All this was ably supervised by Venkat Prabhu sir. Everybody's input is crucial."

For Silva, action choreography will always be his first love. "I love my profession with all my heart. I know for a fact that all stuntmen feel the same. We never worry about the pain or the struggle while doing something dangerous. Every day, I think about our military men who don't have harnesses or safety beds like us. They fight real wars. Compared to them, our hardships are nothing."

Silva firmly believes in taking life as it comes. He is a fan of the theatre experience, but he doesn’t lose sleep over his debut directorial getting a direct-to-TV release. "I didn't have the option to have it come out in theatres. So, I stopped thinking in that direction and shifted my attention towards good OTT films that won the love of the audience like Jai Bhim, Drishyam 2 and Vinodhaya Sitham. I don't worry about things that are beyond me. Being prepared for everything is my approach towards life," he says.

What’s next from director Stunt Silva? “I haven't made plans yet. The result of Chithirai Sevvanam will give me better clarity. I came in without a plan, but people recognise me and appreciate my work as a stunt choreographer now. So, if I am destined to make more films, without a doubt, I can assure you I will give it my fullest."

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