Director Sharada Ramanathan, who bagged three National Awards for her art film “Sringaram” goes commercial for her next “Pudiya Tiruppangal”

“When you look like a mayilu (peacock) from Mylapore with that mookuthi (nose-ring), how can I imagine you as the director, madam,” the stunt master asked filmmaker Sharada Ramanathan, after learning that she was the director of “Pudiya Tiruppangal”, the film he had signed.

He is not the only one surprised that the director of “Sringaram” (a dance film that threw light on the life of Devadasis and won three National awards) was filming a commercial action film. “It's not a film that bases itself on 10 songs and fights. Otherwise, it's pretty much a commercial film... without being too embarrassing,” the director says. “It deals with a fairly sensitive issue of child trafficking. A young Turk with an American dream is hurled into the darker side of Chennai. He's faced with the darker side of life and the child trafficking mafia. So, how does he react.”

Following an idea

How does she explain her jump from an art filmmaker to a mainstream commercial filmmaker? “I didn't plan my first film as an art film or my second film as commercial. I just followed an idea. I did a little bit of research, met a few guys busted from the mafia, met children and the whole vision unfolded,” explains Sharada.

A sensitive issue

Dealing with this sensitive issue meant working with children. “We had a fairly-good 13-year-old child artiste Darani, who I discovered during an audition at a school. It's a very complex hurt, and she was able to express that,” she notes.

“Pudiya Tiruppangal”, produced by TCS, stars Nandaa, Andrea and debutant Surveen and, has been shot by Madhu Ambat using an Alexa camera.

“He had a field day shooting songs (the music is by Vidyasagar). All the songs... whether a kuthu song or a duet, it's all well-contextualised,” says the director.

“Mainstream cinema works for a reason. The craft is really high-end. But, though it looks good as a commercial film, you can never walk away from your own sensibility,” she says when asked if this means she has left her art-filmmaker tag behind.

“During ‘Sringaram', I worked with people in my zone, whether it was Lalgudi and Saroj Khan who did Bharatanatyam for the film. But here, working completely with the mainstream, it took a couple of minutes for them to realise I was not going to soft-pedal. It was fun shooting with the most mainstream of film technicians,” she signs off.

“Pudiya Tiruppangal” is due for a March release.

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MetroplusJune 28, 2012