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How team ‘Vaanam Kottatum’ shot on busy city roads when it rained heavily

Vikram Prabhu on sets of ‘Vaanam Kottatum’   | Photo Credit: R_Ragu

“You guys named the film Vaanam Kottatum and that is exactly what’s happening,” I remark to Vikram Prabhu, even as he looks up at the drizzling skies outside the Jerusalem College of Engineering on the Velachery-Pallikaranai road.

He breaks into a half-smile.

Five minutes later, even as a heavy downpour approaches and we seek refuge in the comforts of his car, I realise why the actor hadn’t exactly thought of my quip in very high regard. “It has been a joke that we have been cracking for quite a while,” he smiles, “Ever since we titled this film Vaanam Kottatum and started shoot, it has been raining a lot in Chennai. We’d go into night shoots since it was raining in the evening. The funny thing is that the director (Dhana) had some rain sequences written in the script itself, and he’s getting more than he bargained for. I don’t think we can complain, with the water scarcity in the city now.”

Even as he’s saying that line, the drizzle has reduced and the director and a few assistants have crowded nearby. They’re all standing near a bright yellow lorry that has three actors inside, one of them being director Balaji Shaktivel.

Balaji Sakthivel plays a key role in ‘Vaanam Kottatum’

Balaji Sakthivel plays a key role in ‘Vaanam Kottatum’   | Photo Credit: R_Ragu

Dhana signals something to his assistant director, who’s on walkie talkie with the camera unit that is on the other side of the bridge. The minute he shouts ‘ready’, Vikram gets down and gets on a black Yamaha bike.

Vaanam Kottatum is ready to roll.

Vikram Prabhu rides the bike over the bridge, and is followed by the lorry. Even before the other motorcyclists on the road can realise the presence of an actor and a camera (which is perched in the rear-side of another car), the shot is taken successfully.

Mazhai-oh idi-oh epidiyavathu iduthuruvom (“Rain or thunder, we will somehow manage to shoot what we want”),” the director tells me later.

This particular sequence, he explains, is part of the montage of the ‘Business’ song that has been tuned by Sid Sriram, who debuts as a music composer in this project. In it, Vikram is leading a group of people from the village to the city to embark on a business.

The road ahead

The filmmaker has already completed more than three weeks of shooting the film, including songs and talkie ports, but he admits that shooting on the roads is a ‘challenging experience.’ “When you shoot interiors, a lot of things are under control. We can take charge of lighting and stage the sequence the way we want to. But on the roads, shoot is a different ball game. The trick is to use whatever is available and shoot. There are times when everything is right – the lighting, the actors’ expressions – but then there are two people in the background who are looking straight into the camera, and then we have no choice but to scrap it.”

Coming up...
  • Vaanam Kottatum’s story and dialogues have been penned by Mani Ratnam, whose Madras Talkies is producing it
  • Its starcast includes Vikram Prabhu, Madonna Sebastian, Shanthnu Bhagrayaj, Aishwarya Rajesh, Sarath Kumar and Radhikaa
  • It will mark the composing debut of singer Sid Sriram

The trick, according to him, is to have multiple plans for a particular place. “I got the montage shot I wanted because it stopped raining,” he tells me, about that particular sequence he canned. Had it kept on pouring, Dhana would have opted for plan B. “I would have planned some rain sequence that was anyway in the script. In today’s film business, time is money. It’s all about creating magic within the time.”

Managerial decisions

He hopes to do that every single day on set, because this film will have a “bit of everything.” “There’s something for the family audiences, and then a love track, and a commercial sequence. It’s like life – which has a bit of everything,” says the filmmaker, who says that it will be difficult to slot it in any particular genre.

How team ‘Vaanam Kottatum’ shot on busy city roads when it rained heavily

Dhana is thrilled with the casting he has assembled – which includes Vikram Prabhu, Madonna Sebastian, Shanthnu Bhagrayaj, Aishwarya Rajesh, Sarath Kumar and Radhikaa - as much as he is kicked about Sid Sriram’d debut as a composer. “When he (Sid) sang his debut song ‘Adiye’ (Kadal), I was Mani sir’s assistant, and the go-between assistant director between Rahman and Mani,” recalls Dhana, “I remember coordinating with Sid back then, and the magic that we heard at that time is what we hope to repeat here.”

He targets to complete it in a little more than 30 days, and that is possible primarily thanks to the intensive pre-production work the team has invested in it. “When I did my first film (Padaiveeran, starring Bharatiraaja and Vijay Yesudas), it didn’t feel tough because my family was producing it. But Vaanam Kottatum is a huge responsibility because it is my boss who has given me this film. When I’m standing on set managing a hundred people, I always feel like Mani sir is standing next to me. That gives me the nudge to do things the right way.”


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Printable version | Nov 27, 2021 11:18:01 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/sky-is-the-limit/article29118883.ece

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