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Suseenthiran on what attracted him to make ‘Champion’

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What spending a day on the sets of the upcoming sports-drama Champion tells us about North Madras’ deep connect with football

Football and the seashore share a historical relationship. In a scene out of every evening at the shores of North Madras, a football bounds between a bunch of children as they kick and bounce it between them. The boys, the ball and the waves all crash on the sand, pick themselves up and start again, while the sea witnesses some of the most expert flip-kicks and headbutts. Starting from when they are young, the children of Tondiarpet, Washermanpet and Vyasarpadi grow up playing football and this love for the sport goes beyond just recreation. The sport encourages the kids to stay focussed, and when they persist, goes on to become part of their identity. The children, both boys and girls, of the Tondiarpet-based NGO Karunalaya have even represented the country in the Street Child World Cup, held in different countries.

More than a sport

This powerful connection between sport and emotion in North Madras clinched director Suseenthiran’s attention. In his next movie Champion, the Vennila Kabadi Kuzhu director explores the life of an aspiring footballer in North Madras. “The boys here have a love for the game, but what is lacking is clarity. Through the street footballer’s childhood and adolescence, there are many distractions, especially violence, that come in the way. Some are so powerful that they change the entire course of his life and end his football days. And we end up losing valuable players,” says Suseenthiran.

Suseenthiran on what attracted him to make ‘Champion’

Vishwa, the nephew of actor and producer RK Suresh, plays the lead alongside Mrinalini Ravi. The début actor has a deeper connection with sports; he was previously an international squash player who was ranked World No 2, and was able to embody the spirit of an athlete in the movie. Speaking about how he prepared for the role that also included over 10 months of training at the Puzhal Ground, the actor admits, “Football is a gruelling sport and to recreate the stunts and kicks of professional players perfectly was one of the difficulties involved in shooting a sports drama.” Vishwa is also a graduate of the American Film Institute, California and he passionately adds, “While I am nervous about my first film, I believe cinema gives me the opportunity to experience people’s lives unlike any other medium. I am looking forward to the journey and the many roles I will get to play.”

This would be Suseenthiran’s fourth sports drama film. But unlike his previous ventures, the emotional effect of the sport on the protagonist is the champion here and not the game itself. The director is also open to working with newcomers, expressing that young and fresh faces in cinema bring an aspect of authenticity and help the audience to dive into the story of the film, rather than focus on the typical mannerisms of experienced actors. Suseenthiran says he is more concerned about creating an impact through movies. “If this movie motivates one boy from North Madras to follow his passion and become a professional footballer one day, that will make me happy.”

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Printable version | Dec 12, 2019 1:38:10 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/having-a-ball-in-champion/article29618226.ece

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