The English translation of the screenplay of M. Sasikumar’s gritty classic is now available to film enthusiasts

Six years after the release of the gritty classic that sparked off a trend of Madurai-based violent films, writer-director M. Sasikumar’s debut film is now available for reading in English.

The English translation of the screenplay and a collection of essays, Subramaniapuram — The Tamil film in English translation, edited by Anand Pandian, was released at the Chennai Book Fair on Friday afternoon.

Introducing the book, Pandian, an associate professor of anthropology at Johns Hopkins University, said that the book includes essays on the film and an exhaustive interview with the director on the making of Subramaniapuram.

“People around the world are still not aware of the developments in Tamil cinema. Many experimental films that have broken the rules and reflect the life of ordinary people in Tamil Nadu have come out over the last few years. And Subramaniapuram was a gritty film about loyalty, friendship, betrayal and nostalgia, presented in new and innovative ways. The screenplay is a terrific document of it and this book is for the lovers of the film, lovers of Tamil cinema and anyone who is curious about what’s happening in this part of the world,” said Pandian.

Launching the book, director Gautham Vasudev Menon said he was the biggest fan of the film. “I hadn't watched it immediately when it released because I was busy with Vaaranam Aayiram. So when I saw it at Four Frames with Selvaraghavan, I was blown away. I saw it many more times. It was like a Martin Scorsese film set in Madurai... I want to Sasikumar to make another film soon and I would love to write the English translation of that,” said Gautham.

Rakesh Khanna, Editor of Blaft Publications, said that the screenplay of the film was already available in Malayalam and Tamil.

“You could smell the soil... Mann vasanai, in this film. There were a lot of different, fresh rural films happening since Virumandi and then Subramaniapuram, Nadodigal and Pasanga and I thought more people needed to be exposed to this cinema. So when Anand came to me, I knew we had to do this,” he said.

Writer Su. Venkatesan hailed Subramaniapuram as the sign of a new beginning in Tamil cinema. “The translation of the script and the critical essays on the film will help the film reach an international audience,” he added.

Film critic Baradwaj Rangan, who has written one of the essays, recalled watching the film at Mayajaal and heading back to buy a ticket for the very next show. “Though I was raised in Besant Nagar, it still felt like watching a slice of my childhood because of the era it captured, with the nostalgia and detailing.”

“We were innocent and had no idea what would happen when we were making it,” cinematographer Kathir of Subramaniapuram said. “I want to retain that innocence in every film I do.”

The music director James Vasanthan remembered how he was moved when Sasikumar showed him the rushes for the music. “I knew right then that this would impact people and affect them. I urge him to start work on the Hindi remake of the film.”

Sasikumar said it was just a matter of time before he started the Hindi remake. “My friend Anurag Kashyap has insisted that he would write the Hindi dialogues. That would happen after I am done with my acting assignments.”

The director also thanked his friend Samudirakanni, cinematographer Kathir and his cousin Ashok for standing by him while making the film and Samudirakanni recalled his journey. “From the day he met me and told me he wanted me to act, the day he told me not to cut my hair, and three months later when he got me a haircut, the days we spent shooting when he fed me Dindigul biriyani, the first day of the film when I saw people applauding him for cutting my neck, the 100th day of the film... all the way till today as the book comes out in English. This film continues to bring me joy.”