Halitha Shameem speaks about her directorial debut Poovarasam Peepee

Halitha Shameem grew up in many cities, but home for her was always Dharapuram. She spent her holidays there, watching boys play by the Amaravathi river that flowed past the town. Her debut feature film as director, Poovarasam Peepee, is also about a bunch of boys who lead a carefree life and play whole day long, till they are forced to grow up, overnight. The colourful trailer promises a cracker of a film.

Halitha, 27, who graduated in electronic media, trained for seven years under Pushkar-Gayathri, Mysskin and Samuthirakani before venturing out on her own. And, this, she says, is the first story she could think of. Poovarasam Peepee is produced by cinematographer Manoj Paramahamsa, who has also shot the film’s lyrical frames.

“We all go through a period when we lose our innocence. It could be triggered by anything — anger, violence… I wanted to make a film about the effect of violence on childhood,” she says.

On one level, the film is a frothy summer adventure, something on the lines of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five, she says. “Strangely, I’ve never ever read Famous Five in school. But I imagined the five having great fun!” The kids in the film, played by Gaurav Kalai, Pravin Kishore and Vasanth (seen in Veyyil and Aaranya Kaandam) court danger, and deal with it in their own, sweet way, she explains.

The film was shot over 60 days in and around Pollachi and Dharapuram. So, how was it working with kids? “Great fun. We chose them through an audition, and barring Vasanth, the others were rank newcomers. It’s lovely working with kids. Once you make them understand what you want, your work is done. You don’t have to deal with egos and jealousy,” says Halitha.

The young director has shown the film to two of her mentors, who loved it, and she is now waiting to show it to Mysskin.

Now that the film is all set for release, how does it feel? “It’s really not sunk in yet. I’ve been too involved with the film. I am also its editor, colourist and lyricist. I’ve given a lot of myself to the film,” she smiles.

So, what does the title refer to? “Ah…that? That’s what many of us played with as kids. A peepee made with the leaf of the Poovarasam tree. It sounds magical. Like childhood.”