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TEAM EFFORT The National award winners with director Sharada Ramanathan
TEAM EFFORT The National award winners with director Sharada Ramanathan

National award winners Lalgudi Jayaraman, Madhu Ambat and Saroj Khan on working in ‘Sringaram’

For those whose dreams appear in 70mm, it’s time to rejoice. Conventional film formula is being rewritten to accommodate new ideas. That’s what encouraged Sharada Ramanathan to go ahead with her debut directorial film ‘Sringaram – Dance of Love’.

No big budget, no big stars, no contemporary story, no stylish setting, no fast-paced songs, no filmi dance movements…but yes three National Awards.

Three winners

Though for the three winners — violin wizard Lalgudi G. Jayaraman, ace cinematographer Madhu Ambat and queen of choreography Saroj Khan – awards and accolades have been part of their long and successful careers, this one was special.

Two of them, Lalgudi and Saroj, in fact, broke new ground by experimenting with a new genre.

It took a lot of convincing to make Lalgudi score music for a film and Saroj to forget her jhatkas-matkas and choreograph Bharatnatyam pieces.

“When Sharada came to me I thought she was joking. I know nothing about Bharatnatyam. But she insisted I could do it. I finally gave in, touched by her confidence in me. And I am glad I did,” said a beaming Saroj. So it was with Lalgudi too.

As for Madhu, he agreed to do the cinematography the moment he heard Lalgudi was to be the music director because “I once wanted to be a violinist.” He’s happy to have won the award for a Tamil film.

Praying for the film’s success (to be released on September 21), Lalgudi said he saw the award not as a personal victory but as a victory for Carnatic music which has given him strength and knowledge to venture into something new and emerge successful.

“It was truly amazing,” to work with someone like Lalgudi mama, said lyricist Swati Var. “He would tell me to come at 3 in the afternoon and when I entered his house he would already be seated on a chair, waiting.

One day, he worked for six hours at a stretch, carefully going through every word of my lyrics and humming a tune in between. On another occasion, while we worked on the nattupura songs, he sat in his room with CDs of folk music strewn all around. When I looked puzzled, he said, ‘I was listening to them because we need to do something that’s totally different.”

Common ground

“What is common about the three,” said Sharada, “is that they are masters of their craft and carry with them three generations of ideas and experiences. It was not easy to put together a team of veterans and youngsters. But it’s been worth the effort.”

Also present on the occasion were Subramoni of GV Films, costume designer Rukmini Krishnan and actors Shashikumar and Bharat Kalyan.

CHITRA SWAMINATHAN

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