Award winning internationally known cameraman turned director Santosh Sivan is elated that his work in Vijay’s AR Murgadoss directed Thuppakki has been appreciated and the film is turning out to be a blockbuster. In an exclusive interview to SREEDHAR PILLAI, Sivan opens up on Thuppakki and a lot more. Excerpts How was it working with Vijay? What about Vidyut Jamwal ?
As a cameraman you are known for doing off-beat films with directors like Mani Ratnam, Shaji and others. How come you did a mass Vijay movie like Thuppakki with AR Murgadoss a top commercial director?
All my films with Mani Ratnam right from Thalapathy were commercial films. I had worked with Rajini sir in that film, so you can’t say I have not worked with big stars. I have nothing against commercial cinema though as a director I make films close to my heart. Please note every filmmaker wants to make a commercially viable film.
Tell us why you signed up to do Thuppakki ?
When Murgadoss narrated the story to me, I got hooked straightaway and then and there decided to do the film. I liked his script especially the innovative sleeper cell idea and the cat and mouse game between the hero and the villain who are equally smart. Murgadoss offered me a chance to experiment using multiple digital cameras and the milieu was one of my favourite cities Mumbai.
You are fascinated by Mumbai city and the entire film was shot there?
Mumbai is like an apple with two sides, one half ripe and good to eat and the other half rotten. I mean it is city where skyscrapers co-exist with slums. Basically it is a city of contrast.
Why did you shoot in digital when you are a self-confessed lover of shooting with traditional film rolls?
After I read the script, I told Murgadoss it will be better if we shoot in digital. Digital cinema is here to stay and even Urumi I did in digital. Thuppakki had car chases, close proximity fight scenes, lot of candid camera in real Mumbai locations which needed 6 to 7 cameras and in one particular scene Vijay shot with a handheld mini camera. There is a lot of freedom shooting in digital as you can shoot randomly without cutting. But my romance with film continues, as I’m doing my next film Ceylon in film.
Vijay is very disciplined and complete professional in his work and had no star airs. In Mumbai he worked like any other unit member and is keen to learn more. I like his skin tone in Thuppakki where all the other characters are north Indians, loved the contrast.
Vidyut Jamwal is hero material and I think he is doing a film in Hindi as the lead character.
How did Thuppakki become such a big hit ?
I think everything fell into a place. It had good content, a star with a huge reach and a director who led from the front. More than anything else it was team work of the entire unit who worked in the film.
The song ‘Google, Google ‘has become a hit and its picturisation is being talked about. Please comment.
I loved doing that song. We shot the song in four days in an actual Bangkok night club using two cameras. There is lot of colour in every frame of that song and maybe I liked it more because for a fleeting second the camera is focussed on me and Murgadoss. (Laughs)
I’m flooded with offers to do camera work. Murgadoss and Akshay wanted me to do the Hindi Thuppakki, but I don’t want to do another remake. I’m taking a break and have no plans to work as a cinematographer for some time to come. Right now I’m immersed in my next film as director, which is a subject close to my heart but too early to talk about.
How was it working with Vijay?
What about Vidyut Jamwal ?