Calling the shots: Director Arunachalam Vaidyanathan on ‘Shot Boot Three’

Filmmaker Arunachalam Vaidyanathan talks about his upcoming film ‘Shot Boot Three’, the market for children’s films, not sticking to a particular genre and more

Updated - October 04, 2023 12:54 pm IST

Published - October 03, 2023 01:19 pm IST

A still from ‘Shot Boot Three’ and Arunachalam Vaidyanathan

A still from ‘Shot Boot Three’ and Arunachalam Vaidyanathan | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Filmmaker Arun Vaidyanathan, known for helming films like Achchamundu! Achchamundu! and Nibunan in Tamil, and the Mohanlal-starrer Peruchazhi in Malayalam, is back with a new film in which he has credited himself with his actual name, Arunachalam Vaidyanathan. “I officially shortened my name to Arun only after going to the US. Until then, it was Arunachalam. A pious friend of mine pointed out how just saying the word ‘Arunachalam’ leads to enlightenment and I also thought it’s better to stick to my actual name,” says Arunachalam, for whom his name isn’t the only recent change. While his two Tamil films are thrillers, for his third project, the director has chosen a drastically new genre. His upcoming release, Shot Boot Three, is a children’s film.

A making still from ‘Shot Boot Three’

A making still from ‘Shot Boot Three’ | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The film’s name, Shot Boot Three, is a game of toss that determines the order of playing. Ask him the reason for his determination with such a genre shift and Arunachalam says, “I’ve always wondered why many kids films aren’t being made which led to questioning myself on why I haven’t made one. I’m a huge fan of films like Home Alone, and in Tamil, titles like My Dear Kuttichathan. When I got the spark to do a film with four kids, a dog named Blackie ran towards me at that very moment. That’s when I decided that it should be a kids’ film with dogs in it.” The filmmaker says that in a post-pandemic world, the importance of pet companions has seen a significant rise. “It comes down to the usual dilemma every house has - whether to have a pet dog or not. That’s how the idea began and the film will touch upon several topics like stray animals, and there are also takeaways for kids that don’t sound like bits of advice. It will be on the lines of Tenali Raman and Tom & Jerry.”

Arunachalam is aware that the market decides the kind of content that’s being made in the industry. “During the days of Balachander sir and Balu Mahendra sir, they made films they wanted to make. I think that freedom is still there if filmmakers are passionate about it. But not many are keen on taking that part. I want to make films that I want to see. That’s how my previous films were made, including Kalyana Samayal Saadham (which he produced),” says the director. Ask him why the directors of today are trying to make a genre their forte and he says, “The film industry is behind stars these days. I was told to do one too. But Shot Boot Three took me to many film festivals across the world. As a creator, it was very satisfactory to have such an experience. I’m not saying that a particular type of film is superior or inferior, but if Steven Spielberg and many other auteurs all have a kids’ film in their filmography, then there’s something to it. Director Manikandan shared the story of Kaaka Muttai during its scripting stage, and I loved it. I guess it’s my time to make one now.”

Speaking of Kaaka Muttai, which showed the tribulations of children from disadvantaged backgrounds, Arunachalam points out that his film will showcase the lives of children from all economic backgrounds. “In the world of children, there aren’t any such labels as they consider all their friends. Their different worlds are connected because of a dog in this film,” says the filmmaker. Moving to his work, I point out his debut venture Achchamundu! Achchamundu! is probably the first film to capture the Tamil diaspora in the US. “Many felt it was like a CCTV capturing the life of an NRI family. We wanted to capture how they longed for their homeland while also enjoying their life there. Similarly, in Shot Boot Three, we have interestingly captured the innocence of kids.”

Venkat Prabhu and Sneha in a still from ‘Shot Boot Three’ 

Venkat Prabhu and Sneha in a still from ‘Shot Boot Three’  | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Apart from a slew of kids, Shot Boot Three stars director Venkat Prabhu and reunites Arunachalam with his first film’s lead actor, Sneha. “We wanted a mother who can be strict while also be extremely caring. She (Sneha) wasn’t up for acting at all, but 20 pages into the script, she gave her nod as it’s a relatable character for her. I told her that her kids’ generation should also see her in films. When Sneha came in as a strict amma, we wanted a fun appa, and my ADs recommended Venkat, who immediately accepted after hearing just the one-liner.” Circling back to the industry warming up to such ventures, Arunachalam says, “The market will accept such films as soon as they turn successful. About eight years back, horror films weren’t the norm, but now, every star has a film in that genre. Similarly, all it needs is one good children’s film. Isn’t Hollywood too churning out ten films a year in that genre? There are economic challenges though; actors shouldn’t charge the same amount for such films as they’ll do for star films. But even to talk about such cooperations, we have to churn out a success.”

Up next, Arunachalam wants to try more genres. “We have plans for a sequel to Shot Boot Three. I’d like to collaborate once again with the same team. We also have plans for an action thriller that’ll be set entirely in the US. There’s also a period series that’s in the offing. It’s been a while since we got a film like Sankarabharanam. I’ve got an idea and we’re yet to decide if we should opt for big starts, which means it might take its time, or go ahead with strong performers. What can be more divine than telling the story of an artist?”

Shot Boot Three is slated to release in theatres this Friday

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