in focus S.P. Charan talks about releasing the award-winning ‘Aaranya Kaandam' in Telugu and why he prefers not to ride on his father's name
A aranya Kaandam , the neo-noir Tamil film that won two National Awards (best direction: Thiagarajan Kumararaja and best editing: Praveen K.L), will soon release in Telugu as Aaranya Kaanda . Producer S.P. Charan is elated that his belief in the script has paid off, beginning with the South Asian International Film Festival in New York to the National Awards announced recently.
Laced with dark humour, Aaranya Kaandam (AK) was much more than a gangster flick. When it released last year, even the Tamil audience that usually laps up offbeat films, didn't make a beeline to the theatres. But then, S.P. Charan is not your quintessential producer who thinks only of the returns. “My intention has always been to make good films and hope that the audience like them. Filmmaking is a business venture and return of investment is important. But money alone has never driven me to take up a film. I am happy with the accolades AK is continuing to receive,” says Charan, talking to us during a short visit to the city.
The date for the Telugu release is yet to be fixed and Charan hopes the film will release this summer. Awards and recognitions, says Charan, have made his job tougher. He has produced six films helmed by six new directors and each one of them has veered off the beaten track. “Young, aspiring directors keep coming to me with more offbeat ideas. But not all offbeat ideas are good, like Chennai 600028 or AK . It's tough to pick and choose. For a change, I feel like doing a simple, commercial love story,” he laughs.
His first two films — Unnai Saranadainthen and Mazhai — sank and it took Chennai 600028 , a compelling comedy of romance, friendship and rivalry in the backdrop of gully cricket, to bring Charan into the reckoning. “It was not a conscious effort to break rules. I had lost money in two films. I had nothing to lose. I threw caution to the winds and hoped that a quirky story would be accepted,” he says in hindsight.
After Chennai 600028 came Kunkuma Poovum Konjum Puravum and Naanayam , which were also not backed by big stars. “The Tamil industry is comparatively lucky that the audience is willing to accept something parallel. As a producer, I am driven by movies that I've grown up watching… Hollywood and world cinema. I cannot hang out with stars or their friends with the hope of getting their dates. Script is the boss. The script should dictate the actor not the other way around. I've never had to deal with star tantrums,” he says.
Charan hopes to produce a film in Telugu. “I do want to produce a Telugu film but I am a bit scared. A few actors here are open to experimentation but approaching them is tough. Heroes here have larger-than-life image even off-screen,” he says, underlining the fact that he doesn't use his father S.P. Balasubrahmanyam's name to make things easier for himself in the industry. “I want actors to sign my film only if they are convinced with the script. They shouldn't be doing me a favour because I am SPB's son. That will not help the project,” he insists.
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