Interview | Movies

Nithin Sathyaa: Being a producer in Tamil cinema is the most dangerous thing

Nitin Sathyaa (L) with Vaibhav (C) and Venkat Prabhu (R) while filming ‘Lock Up’   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Actors turning producers is not uncommon in Tamil cinema. The only difference with Nitin Sathyaa is that he seems content giving up acting responsibilities if it helps carve a footing for Shvedh (his production company) in what is otherwise a crowded space in Tamil cinema.

Nitin is only two films old as a producer in Tamil cinema; the first was Jarugandi (2018) while his second feature film, Lock Up, streams on Zee5 from August 14. So the lockdown cannot have come at a worse time for him, especially since — in his words — “established production houses too are shaky today”.

“But when the going gets tough, the tough get going,” he adds. Excerpts from an interview:

It is not easy turning a producer. Even industry folks would advise against the idea...

Being an actor is safe because you just take the money for your work and be happy. But turning a producer is the most dangerous thing to do. That is why nobody wants to take a chance. I wanted to (laughs).

A poster for ‘Lock Up’

A poster for ‘Lock Up’   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

I entered the film industry as a novice. Someone took a chance on me; I went into rough tides but I survived and made a name. There are many like me out there and I thought I could give the chance to a few of them.

Banking on newer talents, whilst a novel gesture, may be a risky proposition for a producer...

That is why you find most actor-producers playing the main leads in the films that they produce. I bet on combinations. The newer talents I invest in are technicians (directors, cameramen etc). Both Jarugandi and Lock Up are by new directors. The actors in these films are people with a market, irrespective of them being my friends or not. This combination is a market safe, low risk bet.

Perhaps, next time I can have an established director make a film with a new face, but the content has to be excellent in any case.

‘Lock Up’ has been awaiting release for a long time...

I was ready to release the film in theatres back in November (2019). The dates kept getting pushed and the lockdown happened. How long can I wait for the situation to clear up? I have to survive; my interest rate is mounting.When we re-watched the film, we felt it was ideal for an OTT platform.

Vaibhav and Venkat Prabhu in a still from the film ‘Lock Up’

Vaibhav and Venkat Prabhu in a still from the film ‘Lock Up’   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Some OTTs are insisting on a revshare model for smaller films. Was that the case with ‘Lock Up’?

No, this was an outright purchase by Zee5 (meaning Zee5 holds satellite, audio, dubbing and remake rights). Revshare model is not bad but it depends on the strength of the film’s content.

Tell us about the film. What about it made you invest in it?

When I listened to the director’s (SG Charles) narration, I was impressed by the film’s non-linear screenplay. It could be something new in the investigative crime-thriller genre. The film is a fight between two bad cops.

Are you looking to develop web series content for OTT platforms?

There is a script. I cannot divulge details now because I’m on the verge of getting everything finalised. The story will have something to do with Tamil cinema, but it will be the most talked-about web series in terms of casting and presentation.

Will we see the return of ‘actor’ Nitin Sathyaa?

(laughs) I wanted to take a break because I don’t want to ride on two horses. At the moment, production seems to work well for me, but that does not mean I’m calling it quits on my acting career. If a meaty role comes up, then I will do it.

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Printable version | Oct 1, 2020 3:01:03 PM |

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