TAMIL NADU

A celebrated veteran of the south Indian film industry

`Muktha' Srinivasan  

"The contemporary film industry is the most disorganised sector today"

`Muktha' Srinivasan recently celebrated 60 years in the film industry. Starting as an assistant to Modern Theatres' T.R. Sundaram and later moving to Chennai, he joined as assistant director at AVM Studios.

`Muktha' Srinivasan has directed films starring some of the stalwarts of the film industry such as Sivaji Ganesan, Kamal Haasan and Rajinikanth.

The veteran director talks about the golden days of filmmaking to S.R.Ashok Kumar.

`Muktha' Srinivasan has directed 40 films and produced 65 films.

His directorial debut was "Mudhalali" in 1957. In 1960, he started his own company, Muktha Films, and went on to produce noteworthy films such as "Cinema Paithiyam", Thavaputhalvan", "Suriyakanthi", "Polladhavan", "Simla Special" and "Paritchaikku Neramaachu".

"I have directed 11 films with original stories for Sivaji Ganesan and it stands as a record. My brother Ramasamy's death left me devastated. So I kept away for a few years".

`Muktha' Srinivasan has to date received State and Central Government awards, and the Kalaimamani and Raja Sandow titles. He was instrumental in founding, on MGR's instance, the Tamil Film Producer's Council.

`Muktha' Srinivasan is known to be a principled man. "I treat my work as God and work with dedication. I do not allow mind to go astray. I think this is the reason for my success in the industry."

`Muktha' Srinivasan was born in the year of the Tamil Talkie (1931) and is the oldest active filmmaker in the industry. "I started as an assistant to T.R. Sundaram. My mentor was director K. Ramnoth. People used to say that my angles and shots are like `Veena' Balachander, under whom I worked with for quite a few films".

Among directors of yesteryear, he has a fondness for director-poet S.D.S. Yogiar. "He was a kind hearted man whose work was highly appreciated. His songs were immensely popular at that time".

On the contemporary film industry, he says it has become a disorganised sector "the most disorganised sector" as he puts it.

"Though the producer should have a final say, it is the artist and the chief technicians who decide everything. For them, the producer is only a person who pumps in the money."

He says he finished his first film "Mudalali" in four months and three days. "Kadhanayagan" was over in 29 days. However, "Nayagan", starring Kamal Haasan and directed by Mani Ratnam, overshot its schedule by several months. He has written 47 books over six years. He is now working on a Tamil translation of Kalidasa's `Raguvamsa Mahakaviyam'.