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Terror in an ATM

Producer A.P. Sreethar talks to nikhil raghavan about his debut film, a claustrophobic thriller

August 08, 2015 06:07 pm | Updated March 29, 2016 02:01 pm IST

Director Aditya with Robo Shankar

Director Aditya with Robo Shankar

How safe are ATMs? What happens when someone is trapped inside or attacked inside an ATM, especially at night? How do victims protect themselves from being attacked, robbed or even killed? Is there a security person (or panic button to alert the nearest police station)? The plot of Maiem deals with these aspects. The producer of the film, AP. Sreethar, says the film is based on an ATM-related crime that took place a few months ago.

Sreethar has written and produced Maiem . While it would have been ideal for Sreethar himself to take up directorial responsibilities, he felt that a fresh approach by a youngster would produce better results. He came across Aditya Baskaran, a fourth-year mechanical engineering student at SRM University, who had made four short-films. Says Aditya, “When Sreethar narrated the story to me, I felt the passion with which he had written it. And when I read the screenplay, I understood every nuance. This made my job easier and I was able to concentrate on shooting it the way I perceived it.

The film narrates the story of six characters trapped in a challenging situation. Intent on using the talent of the student community, Sreethar roped in a couple of others too. “Today’s youngsters see the world in a totally different light. And, when it comes to films, they are very critical and not afraid of voicing their views strongly,” he says. “The music has been scored by A R Rahman’s nephew Kashif Rafiq (KR), a VisComm student from Loyola, and the director of photography is Martin, also a student. KR has brought an exciting rawness to the two songs in the film, one of which is the opening number showing a montage of Chennai life from Tambaram to Tondiarpet.” Sreethar’s college-going daughter Varuna has designed the costumes.

Maiem is a 'mocktail' that combines elements of claustrophobic thrill, romance and comedy. “Robo Shankar plays the role of an ATM security guard, who gets locked up in the adjacent room,” says Sreethar. “The plot develops as he converses with the unseen persons who are inside the ATM, even as another crime happens outside. The interaction between the trio inside the ATM and the security guard, sometimes hilarious and sometimes serious, will make the viewers guess what the actual scenario is until the climax,” says Sreethar.

An artist by profession, Sreethar has worked with directors Bharathiraja and Parthiban, sketching scenes for their screenplays. He has gained experience in acting in director Jai’s Andhra Mess , which is awaiting release. “When I screened Maiem for Parthiban, he spontaneously agreed to do a voice-over about the safe use of ATMs, and this has added value to the film,” says Sreethar.

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