Sasi Kumar
Interviewer : Inian | Camera : Balaji | Text : Prathap
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SASI KUMAR INTERVIEW
His Subramaniapuram marked a new beginning in Tamil cinema. Not only did it make viewers and critics sit up and take notice, it also opened up a world of well-made, independent movies. Sasi became Subramaniapuram Sasi since then although his ensuing ventures Pasanga and Nadodigal were equally successful and touched upon diverse themes, totally unlike his debut.

Meet the star of new age Tamil cinema as he constantly pushes the envelope in terms of redefining the forms of cinema. Here he talks about his much-anticipated film Eesan, his rumored meeting with Sridevi and much more.

What is the secret of your success? How do you gauge your fans?

Cinema is a mix of both success and failure. I consider making cinema as my primary responsibility and hence all I care about is my work and not about success or failure. Besides, I do not let success go to my head. May be that is the secret of my success.

About fans, they are the reason why we make movies in the first place. I am presenting the public with films that I enjoy (making). So when they like a movie, I am happy that we are in the same wavelength. If not, I would move on and tune myself to their taste.

You produce movies like Pasanga and act in movies like Nadodigal. How do you see these two assignments, as a producer and as an actor?

It so happened that I produced, directed and acted in my first film. It turned out to be successful and I continued doing that. In simple terms, I am riding three different horses at the same time.

Which would you prefer: direction, production or acting?

Each responsibility has its own ups and downs. When you are acting, you will feel the producer or director’s job is simple and vice versa. To me, I give everything to whatever I do and enjoy doing all the three tasks. Above all, I love direction since that is what I always wanted to do. It is an uphill task but that is what I enjoy doing. It’s like a sweet burden.

How did you find Abhinaya? Did you try to break any stereotypes by casting her?

When Samudrakani was scrutinizing photos for a girl to play my sister’s part in Nadodigal, he happened to see Abhinaya’s photo that was sent by a model coordinator. He informed me and mentioned that he liked the girl’s photo and sent it to me. I had the same feeling and then we met her in person in my office. I finalized her and after the first day of shooting I decided that I would cast her as my heroine in my next movie.



“National Awards was a totally

different experience”

How do you feel about the awards Pasanga has brought you?

Obviously, I feel extremely happy with Pasanga’s awards. Of all, National Awards was a totally different experience. We went there a day in advance for rehearsals and had the opportunity to meet veterans like Amitabh. I also realized how the National Awards are being hugely respected by folks from Bollywood, Bengali and Malayalam cinema.

Remake movies or inspired movies; which ones do you think is difficult to make?


That can only be said after I did such movies. But in general, movie making is a difficult task as such. In movies that are inspired from other sources, you need to tune it to fit the local taste. But be it remake, inspired or dubbed movies; nothing is an easy task to achieve.

What do you have to say about Tamil movies inspired by Hollywood films?

Well, I think it depends on people who direct / produce such movies.

How significant are Tamil movies in the pan-Indian scene?

Tamil films have a greater responsibility in the pan-Indian scene now. It’s now possible to make experimental movies in Tamil when compared to other languages.

Tell us something about Easan

I want to tell my fans not to have Subramaniapuram in mind or expect too much from the movie. I insist not to refer Subramaniapuram in any of my movie promos because I want people to undo that effect while they come in to watch my other movies. Subramaniapuram is of a different genre from Easan. Please think of this as my first movie. Is Easan a different movie or does it have a very different storyline? I would say, no. Even if that’s the case, I am confident that I will make you forget Subramaniapuram in the first few scenes of Easan. Easan is a very simple movie and all that we have done is to try and present it in a different manner.



“Please think Easan as my first

movie”


Easan audio release had many renowned Indian directors. Is there a special reason behind that?

I had an opportunity to meet directors of many regional languages after Subramaniapuram was released. That is when I realized how much talents from Tamil are respected. This is my way of paying them back. I had watched and loved their movies and wanted to show my Tamil fans that these are the people who love Tamil and its movies. All those who attended are my friends. I wanted all the Indian language directors to be united in the name of cinema despite the language barriers. For instance, Anurag Kashyap and I became friends because of our movies. I watched Dev D and fell in love with it and he watched Subramaniapuram and liked it. Same way I connected with Ranjith, Yogiraj Bhat and many other directors. This is my way of paying back the respect I have for them.

Most importantly, I wanted Ameer and Bala to be part of that event. They were busy in their schedules. However, I insisted on their presence since I brought along directors of four languages on the stage and I wanted my Gurus, teachers to be present as well. I am immensely honored with their attendance. It was like winning an award for me.

Tell us how you got Malayalam director Blessy to act

He is one of my favorite directors in Malayalam and also my friend. I loved his movies like Kazhcha and Tanmathra. When I invited him to act, he flatly refused saying it is not a practice in the Malayalam industry for directors to act. But I convinced him to do the role. He has done a commendable job of it. He had his own apprehensions whether people would accept it. I made a pact with him. I told him to take credit if people thought (after the release of the movie) he had done a good job, if not I would take the blame. He entrusted himself in me as an actor and has given an excellent performance. You would know it when the movie releases.

Who is the dancer in Jilla Vittu Jilla song?

Nobody has so far asked me that question. It’s really surprising that you should bring it up. Dinesh Master and I had a tough time deciding upon a dancer for the song. It was sung by a new singer Thanjai Selvi for Mohanraj’s lyrics. After screening a few people, Dinesh suggested that I see Sujatha, who is also a dance master. After meeting her we decided she would suit Selvi’s voice. And then a trivia tumbled out. She is the dancer who is featured in Thalapathi’s ‘Kaattu Kuyile’ song; the silhouetted one who would be hopping in a pony tail in the song. Anybody who is familiar with the song will know the girl. I register my thanks at this juncture for Sujatha who did a great job in the Jilla Vittu Jilla song.

Bala and Ameer also liked the way the song is choreographed and edited cuts based on the mood. They felt the song has a story in itself. The song Inda Iravudaan Pogude will have fast cuts. Editor Ramesh has done a beautiful job of the songs and the specialty is that the editing pattern of the songs would suit the mood of the movie.

About lyricist Mohanraj

Jilla Vittu Jilla was the first song to be finalized for Easan. We listened to it when we were on a flight to Hyderabad. This song was already recorded by James Vasanthan and was turned down by a producer. However, I fell in love with that song and told James that I would take it. Strangely the situation in my script was similar to the song’s mood and when I showed James the script, we knew this song was going to be the one. That is the story of Jilla Vittu Jilla song.

Na. Muthukumar

Na. Muthukumar has done three songs. I had plans for only one song for him, which is Get Ready for Action. So we were driving down to James’ recording studio and Muthukumar wanted to listen to the track. After listening to the tune and getting details about the situation, he started writing the song and finished it before even reaching James’ place. And the song was perfect too. As a result, we were rendered jobless after reaching James’ studio since the purpose of the visit was fulfilled in the drive itself. That is when I suggested that Muthu should write the Inda Iravudaan Pogude song as well. That is an excellent club song and sung by Sukwinder Singh and Benny Dayal. And he also wrote another song called ‘Kannil Anbai Solluthe’.



“I have never met Sridevi”

We heard you had dinner with Sridevi. How much of it is true?

I have no idea how this news spread out. I had never met Sridevi. Only seen her in movies. I was hunting for shooting locations in Karaikkudi and heard this news from one of my friends who phoned me up to find out about it.

Tell us about your next movie

My next movie is directed by Samuthrakani and I play the lead. The movie goes on floors in January.

We hear the next movie is the story of a Srilankan refugee

No. That is not true. I don’t know where these stories crop up from. Same way, people have named my first movie Nagaram. I was surprised to see that news. All I said was the movie was about life in the city. Just that I said it in Tamil and the word city became Nagaram and people interpreted it as the title of my next movie.

How important are Assistant Directors for a movie?

They are very important to a movie in my opinion. They are there for us to get every simple task fulfilled from the start to the end of the movie’s production. They assist the director and that is why they are called assistants. For instance, my co-director Prabhu who worked with me in Subramaniapuram got an opportunity to direct another movie. But there was a little gap for his venture to be kicked off and I asked him to work for me for Eesan. He did. So the understanding between a director and his assistant goes a long way. That is very important for a movie.

Is Easan inspired from a true story?

No. It is not. People get that idea after watching the scenes of a young girl being chased by a gang. They say it resembles an incident happened five years ago. But I think it happens all the time in real life. We encountered one such incident during the shooting. We were shooting a scene with a girl in a moped on the road and suddenly, from nowhere five guys came in motorbikes and started following the girl. I had to stop the car in which we had our cameras and confront the guys. They apologized saying they did not know about the shooting. I asked them whether they would do the same thing if it was not the shooting. They had no answer. So these things happen on a day to day basis.



“Easan is not inspired from a true

story”


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