A tale inspired by water

Vasanth Sai  

Director Vasanth’s voice bears ample proof of his current enthusiasm. A lot has been happening in his life. He’s been working on his film Sivaranjaniyum Innum Sila Pengalum, changed his name to Vasanth Sai and kickstarted another project, Thanneer, based on acclaimed writer Ashoka Mitran’s work by the same name. Produced by Cross World Films and Vasanthachitram, Thanneer stars Gulshan Grover and Chandini in the lead. In between this happy buzz is a tinge of sadness when he speaks of his mentor, the late K. Balachander.

Thanneer is a story that has stayed with Vasanth Sai for decades. He first read it in the 1980s and reread it many times since. “During repeat reading, you experience novels differently. But, Thanneer always inspired me the same way it did the first time. What I loved most was how Ashoka Mitran portrayed the central theme of water. In just 90-odd pages, he spoke about not just water scarcity but also its impact on relationships. When there is water, life is beautiful; when it is in short supply, it triggers anger,” he says.

“The film is set during the infamous drought that hit Chennai in 1969,” he says. That period is being recreated by art director Sree, who has worked in Malayalam films. The film marks the coming together of an unusual set of people — singer Sudha Ragunathan turns composer, Rolf Dekens from The Netherlands is the cinematographer. The director says that the team is his way of exploring new possibilities, new sensibilities.

Speaking about Gulshan, Vasanth Sai says he zeroed in on the Bollywood baddie after watching him in a lot of films, including I Am Kalam. “He is a method actor. He listened to the story, read the English translation of the book and the screenplay and was ready to shoot.”

As for Chandini, Vasanth Sai says he chose her after watching her body of work in Kannada. “The character of Jamuna has resided in my heart for long. I constantly searched for someone to play her. Chandini had the right face and look for Jamuna.”

Speaking about Sivaranjaniyum…. Vasanth Sai says the film is a compilation of three short stories — by Jayamohan, S. Ramakrishnan and Ashoka Mitran. “It is a pro-woman film and stars Padmapriya and Karunakaran. I am speaking to some more heroines.”

Over the years, the director, known for his sensitive take on issues, has had a bouquet of hits and some misses. His last film — Moondru Per Moondru Kaadhal — had an interesting premise. “Now is a good time to make small, niche films. The audience and producers are ready for them. And that is why I have decided to make films with serious content.”

Even in those films, music will rule. That’s because Vasanth Sai is an ardent devotee of literature and music. “Take both away from me, and I am nothing,” he says. As we speak of music, he smiles recalling how Sudha Ragunathan got news of her Padma Bhushan nomination on the day of Thanneer’s launch. “So now, I not only have a great singer as music director but someone who has been bestowed with a great honour too.”

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Printable version | Oct 23, 2021 4:16:53 PM |

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