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IN ACTION: Drohi. Photo: Special Arrangement  

“Drohi” is out and its director Sudha K. Prasad is heaving a sigh of relief. Even a couple of days prior to it, when I asked her if she was cool about her first release, she declared, “Tense is the word.” She had called up a couple of other directors hoping to hear words of comfort. They “assuaged” her fear saying, “It's going to be like this every time your film releases!” Recalling their words, she laughs aloud.

Several things about “Drohi” are intriguing. The film is set in a rather notorious North Chennai area. Surely a milieu you wouldn't expect Sudha to be familiar with! “I've lived in Chennai from childhood. But, honestly, I didn't know the Royapuram side at all,” she admits. Yet once she decided on the setting of “Drohi” she went to the place everyday for almost six months, interviewed dozens of people living there and shot videos of their way of life. “Soon the script began to evolve,” she says. During the shoot, bodyguards were around to ensure the safety of the unit. “But actually the people out there are warm and friendly,” Sudha opines.

Choice of cast

Strangely, the role of one of the protagonists living in the slums of Royapuram is played by Srikanth, one of our suave heroes. “I wanted a handsome guy for the role and Srikanth was my first choice. Now that you've watched the film, don't you think the story justifies my decision,” she asks. She found the other hero in “Vennila Kabbadi Kuzhu” and Vishnu was roped in. Among the heroines Pooja, Poorna and Poonam Bajwa, Pooja is a long time pal. “‘Finish the casting for any two roles and I'll take the third,' Pooja told me,” Sudha warmly recalls.

Alphonse Roy, the inimitable wildlife cinematographer, has cranked the camera for “Drohi.” He rarely shoots for features — the national award winning Lenin film, “Oorukku Nooru Paer” and the critically acclaimed Hindi flick, “Aamir”, are the few such outings. “He liked the script of ‘Drohi' and gladly came on board. ‘You've made Royapuram a character in the story,' he commented,” Sudha informs.

“Drohi” seems to have been in the making for quite a while. What was the glitch? “Nothing at all, except minor problems any crew faces. Producer Mano Akkineni is a friend, and both of us realise the dictates of the commercial format,” says Sudha.

She feels that the emphasis made on being a woman director is unwarranted. “A director is a director. Man or woman should matter little. I'm here to do a job,” is her contention.

Film-crazy family

And about how her tryst with films began, she says, “We are a film-crazy family. After watching ‘Pagal Nilavu' I decided Mani Ratnam should be my mentor and joined him.” She makes it sound so easy. “I believe everything is ordained. Producer Suresh Balaji put me on to him. Siddharth had just left Mani to become an actor and I filled up the vacancy,” she smiles. During the six-and-a-half-year stint under Mani, she worked for “Yuva,” “Ayudha Ezhuthu” and “Guru.” Before Mani, Sudha had worked with Revathi as the screenplay and dialogue writer of “Mitr, My Friend,” along with Priya.

Having lived in Adyar all her life Sudha used to frequent Eros cinema. As an avid movie goer from childhood, films were a natural career choice but her folks were against it. Thankfully after marriage, things changed. Her husband is very supportive and Sudha is following her passion with vigour!

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2021 10:48:16 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/Intriguing-features/article15910019.ece

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