Pushkar and Gayatri on the making of Va, Quarter Cutting
Pushkar and Gayatri couldn't have asked for a better deal. “Unbelievable break,” begins Pushkar and what follows is an enthusiastic interaction with the director couple, on the making of their much-hyped Diwali bonanza, Va, Quarter Cutting. Intrigue starts with the quaint title. What's Va? “Every Tamil alphabet denotes a number. We had to find the Tamil letter for the fraction. Surfing the net helped — Va means 1/4,” Pushkar explains.
The two have been together from their Visual Communication days at Loyola College, after which they went on to do their Masters in filmmaking in the U.S. Equipped, energetic and confident they returned to their roots.
The maiden venture of the husband-wife team, Oram Po (they had earlier named it Auto), with Arya and Pooja in the lead, didn't yield stupendous results. “Inevitable delays played truant to an extent. But critically it was appreciated,” avers Gayatri. So after nearly three years the duo has come back with another film in the laughter genre. “Auto was more an action comedy. Va is a healthy entertainer and surely not a spoof,” says Gayatri.
Sasikanth, the producer, was impressed with the line of Va … and the first name he suggested for the lead part was Shiva. “Charan was our choice for the other role even when we began the second draft of the script,” says Gayatri. When S.P. Charan joins Shiva expectation is naturally high — the liveliness the two lent to Saroja is still fresh in viewers' minds. “And we were confident that Lekha Washington can pull it off. The choices have proved wonderful,” chorus the Pushkars.
Shiva is not your usual Tamil film hero. “Yeah, and he's a natural. His humour is spontaneous and the best part is he can play a funny role throughout a film even as the leading man. Not many can pull it off — at the most the regular hero indulges in a few humour accented scenes and that's it,” says Pushkar.
“Most of the shoot was at dead of night, on the streets of Chennai, after 12. By two in the morning the crew was washed out because of the erratic working hours. But Shiva and Charan kept our spirits high, crooning away the numbers of the 1950s. They made friends with people living in the areas we shot, sat in their homes and spent time watching cricket matches on TV in between work,” laughs Gayatri.
The four-month shooting schedule was fun unplugged for the cast and crew. “Ego had no role. And that I'm a woman made no difference. The comfort level at the work spot was complete,” smiles Gayatri. “We had the likes of Nirav Shah and G. V. Prakash fresh from the success of Madrasapattinam, working with us, but none was on a high horse,” Pushkar pitches in.
Va showcases incidents that happen through a single night, when the hero lands in the city from Coimbatore. He is to board the flight to Saudi next morning, when he meets Marthandam, played by Charan. “The toughest days were when we had to shoot Charan and Shiva being chased by stray dogs. We had an audition for the dogs. The owners were ordinary folks as we didn't need pedigree or pampered pets. Very strangely all the three we chose were named Tiger. But unfortunately the ‘Tigers' were undisciplined and fiercely independent. Hence commotion and chaos were inevitable. Quite an experience,” laughs Gayatri.