Kollywood's man with the Midas touch, Shankar, takes a breather from the realm of filmmaking and spends a morning talking cinema, its craft and Endhiran with Archana Thiyagarajan and Akhila Krishnamurthy
Big, bigger; songs, sets, sequences; drama, dances; society, politics; light, effect; stunning, spectacle; magnificent, masala; suspension of disbelief. Shankar.
Even in the real world that Kollywood's auteur lives and works in, there's always an aura of mystery and magic. Commercial chaos flirts freely with artistic sentiments. In ShankarÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s office in T Nagar's Kanniah Street, on the day we are summoned to meet him, there's a clutter of activity. Huge crates and cartons are stacked in a corner around which the many hands that assist in the process of film-making are milling around. Walk a little further, a few steps and a world of its own is waiting.
We step in, a little afraid, a little in awe into a strikingly large, minimalist and very Zen-like room that has been styled to nature-like perfection by Puducherrybased French designer, Ananda. The outside spills freely into the inside; there are two large glass windows and there he is! He's looking intently at his small pool below with many many fish. The pool is located in the central open courtyard that is visible from all corners of the house, and is almost idyllic. "It's my favourite spot for relaxation, meditation," says Shankar with a warm smile.
He is the man of the moment, courtesy Endhiran. And as always, he is the filmmaker with many secrets. And someone who never divulges them. But he does. He is supposed to have been back only tomorrow. "But we managed to finish the shoot ahead of schedule," he says. The cast and crew has just finished shooting pieces of the third song sequence (two have already been shot in Peru and Brazil) at Ramoji Film City in Hyderabad.
To us, that information seems almost like a prelude to a kiss. "Songs and filming them are very important to me," he avers, "In many ways, I tell a story through it." For Shankar, God is in the detail: "Every little detail is conceived before we go on the floors."
With a penchant for perfection and a child-like earnestness to delight his audiences, this master craftsman avers Endhiran has taken its own shape and course since he conceived it nearly nine years ago. As a fantasy film, Endhiran promises to have an "international look and feel". "It has many things unseen, unheard in Tamil cinema - budget, creativity, entertainment," he explains, "And that's exactly what making a film is for me. It's like hosting a Virundhu (feast) for my viewers; with each film, I try and do better than what I did both with regard to the content and technique. But without ever compromising the soul of the film." Indeed! MY CINEMA
"Every film of mine, starting with Gentleman, has a message in it. If I made a movie with just lavish songs and attractive people and a bigbudget film without a great story, I don't think it'd work."
"The Tamil film audience is most appreciative of good cinema! And I think we are ready to welcome fantasy films too.Ã¢â‚¬ÂÂ
"I like bringing in new technology in Indian cinema. I used the motion capture technology in Ale Ale song in Boys, and made a skeleton dance in Jeans. In Endhiran too, you will see a lot of it. However, it's animatronics (use of electronics and robotics in mechanised puppets to make them appear alive) is the technique most used in this film.Ã¢â‚¬ÂÂ
THE SONG EFFECT
"I don't shoot all my songs abroad. If you see Mudhalvan, none of the songs were shot in foreign locales. Yet, we made it look spectacular and larger-than-life. Uppu Karuvaadu was a big hit too; the song had just a pair of village costumes and a minimalist set!"
Shankar is like a child; he gets excited about everything around him. He is also constantly raising the bar. If I give him a sketch, he will not be convinced till I make him more sketches and convince him that it cannot be done any better than that! In Endhiran, what I like is the way the story has been conceived. I have made a lot of futuristic sets for the film. Futuristic was a theme I always wanted to explore. There'll be many surprise elements in the film. Every song has grandeur written all over it. Sabu Cyril Art Director
It is an absolute joy to work with director Shankar. He is a lot of fun to be around with on the sets. I've worked with him both as an actor and as a choreographer. I love choreographing for his films. He is a bundle of ideas and starts preparing many months before he starts shooting a song. He gives a lot of importance to the technicians too. I just finished shooting a song with him in Endhiran - with Rajini and Aishwarya. It is a very different song and a very demanding one too.
Actor, Director and
Shankar's films are very demanding for art directors. If there are no moving objects in the frame, you can be assured that itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a set. As a filmmaker, he really appreciates good work. Even though his work is stressful, he lightens up during our brief lunch and tea breaks. Both of us are foodies and love to experiment with new cuisines. More than a professional relationship, I share a very personal relationship with him. Shankar, KV Anand and I are a gang and hang out together often.
Impressions about Shankar
The first time I met Shankar was during Gentleman. Back then, I was concentrating on my own production and wasn't keen on acting for another director. It was his narration that made me accept his offer in less than five minutes. Off screen, Shankar is a very jovial person; he has a great sense of humour. There is a catch though; he is very shy and it takes him a lot of time to get comfortable with people. So, only his close group of friends get to enjoy his jokes. Though he makes so many films, if you take a camera to click his picture, he gets very uncomfortable!
News about Endhiran
"Working with Rajinikanth again - after Sivaji- is a pleasurable experience. Though humility is a quality people often associate with him, thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s no denying that itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s unbelievably true of him. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s only after I worked with him did I realise how powerfully simple the man is!"
The Ash Factor
"Aishwarya is a very intelligent actor. She was my first choice for Endhiran because she has a very international look, and that was the look we wanted for our lead actors. She is the pivot point around which the entire film unfolds."
"Karunaas and Santhanam are the comedians in the film. But there is no separate comedy track as such in the film as the story itself has plenty of room for comedy."
"In my last film, you saw a different, fairer Rajini in the Style song, and in this too, a completely new and differently-styled Rajini is waiting to unfold. Even Prabhu Deva admitted that it was one of the toughest songs he's ever worked in!"
Source: Times Of India
Compiled by: S.Shankar