Movies

In one hell of a Hari

When director Hari explains a scene, he does so with raw emotion. Early during our conversation, I realise why.

“When my hero comes to talk to the villain, it’s not routine… it is real drama. He comes in a speeding car, brakes with purpose and gets off the car. He struts into the house like he’s king, opens the door with force, comes face-to-face with the villain and says, ‘Ippo Sandhoshama?’ or something like that,” he narrates.

During this time, he’s broken into a sweat. And he’s sitting in a cosy air-conditioned studio.

It’s this “force”, as he keeps referring to, that works in favour of all films. It’s what Durai Singam will have, he promises, when he returns to the big screen with C3.

Things go international in this instalment, in which Suriya plays a ‘universal cop’. “He takes on a global issue. Personally, the biggest highlight is how all artistes have been playing the same characters in all three parts. With C3, I have completed 7.5 hours of the subject,” he says proudly.

But that wasn’t the plan seven years ago, when ‘Ji’ (that’s how he calls Suriya) and he discussed a cop subject that ended up being Singam. And then part two came about. After that, the director-actor decided they’d come together yet again, but the third version wasn’t on the cards then. “Wherever I went — and I have this practice of frequenting local theatres and interacting with audiences — I kept facing the same question. Everyone asked, ‘We know you’re back with Suriya… it’s the third part of Singam, right?’ Suriya and I were actually planning for another script, but since audience expectations were high on the third part, I decided to develop the one-liner I had.”

It’s an action-investigation, and ‘one that’s grand in nature’, according to him. “There are 98 locations in this film, excluding the songs,” he says, almost showing off, “We’ve travelled 1.5 lakh kilometres across three countries. We’ve shot in seven airports. We’ve used two choppers, four flights. All this makes the screenplay busier.”

I point out how even lay audiences notice a “lag” in certain films these days, and how they laud his films for not losing steam at any point of time. “See, I plan a lot. I consciously accelerated the second half with faster cuts. When I write my screenplay, I cut it into many short scenes. I like weaving in a lot of drama even for simple things,” he explains.

The other aspect that makes it that way is because his characters are eternally in a state of anger. I point out how the first two parts of Singam had Suriya looking furious most of the time and he laughs, “I like to keep it that way. It keeps the audience engaged. All my characters in the second half are usually in a state of tension — the hero is angry due to the villain, the villain is angry due to the hero, and the leading lady is angry because her love might not be accepted. I’m not sure if this is the right approach, but this seems to work for audiences. Even if people don’t like my films, they make it a point to tell me how briskly paced they are. That makes me really happy.”

The other reason fans like his movies is because of how good and responsible his heroes are. Hari even goes to the extent of describing them as ‘purified water’. “He respects his parents. He knows how long to look at a girl… he also knows how long to look at her face because there’s a chance his eyes might wander elsewhere. I like to design my heroes that way.”

For a filmmaker whose work constitutes characters indulging in over-the-top stunt sequences, Hari defines heroism as ‘calculated decision-making.’ “In my films, the lead character’s decision-making is what makes him a hero. Take, for instance, a hero chasing a villain. He has to take a split-second decision if he has to run left or right. The audience knows what the right direction is, because they have seen the previous scene, but when the hero makes that decision, they applaud.” The decision-making is not with respect to the baddie alone though. “It is also about how he reacts to the proposal of a girl, how he explains if he turns it down… all these constitute heroism.”

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Printable version | Dec 1, 2020 5:16:48 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/In-one-hell-of-a-Hari/article17073987.ece

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