Anniyan is the seventh big budget extravaganza directed by Shankar, which is due in May. His films are all commercial mass entertainers with a powerful story packaged with lot of gloss, glamour and fantasy. Shankar is the only director among his contemporaries to have survived with the ‘generation next’ audience of today. They feel that Shankar still has the magic touch and knows the pulse of the audience. Anniyan is the first film in Tamil to get institutional finance from IDBI. Its dubbed version in Telugu, Aparichitudu was sold at a record price as Shankar films are huge hit in Andhra and the hero Vikram has a good market there. In this exclusive interview to Sify.com Shankar speaks
Is Anniyan the costliest Tamil film ever?
Yes. Anniyan is the costliest film made in south India. It is my dream project which will be a racy entertainer. I should thank producer ‘Oscar’ Ravichandran without whom Anniyan would not have been made. After seeing the rushes he told me that my vision justifies the budget.
All your films so far had a message to convey. What is it that you going to convey through Anniyan?
I am extremely passionate about Anniyan and its message. I have traveled to many parts of the globe especially developed countries and is fascinated by the rapid strides that they have made in all fields. But back home, I was upset to see the neglect, poverty and laid back approach of our youngsters.
I often think that we are a lazy Nation. Why haven’t we produced one Gold medalist in Olympics? My story is about a person who tries to bring a change or the reforms within our society. The issue that I am trying to solve is inherent weakness within our society and some motivation to move forward like other nations.
What is the story of Anniyan?
My hero Ramanujam played by Vikram is a lawyer by profession. Ambi, as he is affectionately called by his father Parthasarathy (Nedumudi Venu) kick-starts a process to change the attitude of people and awaken them from deep slumber. I have put my thought process on the character who also has shades of grey. His cold-heartedness, angst and dare-devilry go beyond the realm of justification.
In all your earlier films, the highlight were the chartbusters from A.R.Rahman. Now with Anniyan you are teaming with Harris Jayaraj for the first time. Did you miss Rahman?
I agree that Rahman and me, we have clicked in a big way but both of us have decided to go our separate ways. And working with Harris was an experience and he has given me some amazing tunes which I assure you are going to be mind blowing.
Your song picturisation have always been innovative and a riot of colours? What have you tried out in “Anniyan”?
I have canned a song in Amsterdam during the Annual flower show on the lead pair and another folk song sung by Jassie Gift shot near Shenkottai with Sabu Cyril’s astounding recreation of a village. Then there is an item song by Yana Gupta which is sure to rock. Out of five songs two are classical, two are fast and one is a folk.
How was it working with Vikram, the National award winner?
He is the life and soul of Anniyan. He is a thorough professional and a fine actor. My Ramanujam is safe in his hands and I don’t think anyone else could be as convincing as him. He has given all his time, energy and thoughts to Anniyan and no other Tamil hero would have been so devoted to the project. Anniyan will surely be a bench mark in his career.
What about others in the cast and crew?
Sada is a combination of glamour and talent. Nedumudi Venu, Prakash Raj, are actors par-excellence and Vivek’s comedy is a revelation. The film has five songs tuned by Harris Jayaraj, camera is by Manikandan and Ravi Varman. Art is by Sabu Cyril, editing by V.T.Vijayan and action scenes are choreographed by Peter Haynes.
But your critics say that you can only make big-budget extravaganzas with top actors. Please comment?
I believe that my films are like a ‘buffet’ of entertainment with a wide variety to choose. Everybody will have something in it to suit their taste. As far as my critics say that all my works were mass ‘masalas’, I can tell them that it is not easy to make a film with a glossy look and yet have a soul which will appeal to an ordinary man.
What are the special effects and technical highlights in Anniyan?
For the first time in Indian films we have used the time –slicing technique used earlier in “The Matrix”. Time-slicing is about numerous stills on a camera system consisting of 120 cameras, a special ring and precise control in post production to achieve a frozen-time effect.
Why do all your films take a long time in the making?
I started Anniyan early last year and since I work with a full length script it has taken me 14 months to complete the film. It has 63 scenes and all them were executed with great care and pain. I think by my standards it was fast work (smiles).