Have You Seen Sri Ganesh’s works (8 thottakal and short films)? Because if you have seen, you would get it. His writing organic, films highly emotional, but wait, it doesn’t leave you there, it makes you think and that is very tough. Because most of the times, we don’t make people think. We make them feel, we make them cry and in the process, we make things bit preachy. Feeling seems to be easy. Making people think, not really!
Director Sri Ganesh stands tall after 8 thottakal and an interview is mandatory.
(Mr. Sri Ganesh, I thank you on behalf of our initiative Student Filmer. We are a platform for Aspiring Filmmakers. I am sure This interview will be of great use to the filmmaking community)
1. How did the production start. The film is minimalistic, an engaging thriller but definitely unconventional. You must have had your doubts. For the benefit of our readers, can you brief on things that led to successful production of 8- Thottakal?
I started this film with a team of newcomers, knowing very well that it’s a risky affair. Audience have so many options today when it comes to films. So content is the only factor that can attract them to come and see our movie. I strongly believed in this and kept convincing so many people during the production of ‘8 Thottakkal’.
2. End of the day, A script must sell if it is done for commercial purpose. How do you see this ‘selling’ aspect. Should it be ingrained when we write our films. With regards to 8-thottakal, were there any compromises done during filming or even during writing?
The only ‘commercial’ factor that works is, writing scenes with drama and conflict. Through out the world, Mainstream audience are trained to see films that way. Just wanted to share this with the readers. It took me very long to understand this. Any film that follows the Three Act Structure, is said to be a commercial film. I followed this in 8 Thottakkal. Other than that, the compromises I made, trusting them as commercial factors – placement of songs, love track etc have only worked against this film.
3. Let’s talk about the casting. Did you write the Antagonist keeping Mr. MS Bhaskar in mind. And there were criticisms with regards to the performance of Mr. Vetrivel Saravanan. Personally I felt his ‘indifference’ somehow complemented the role given. Your take?
MS Bhaskar, yes. When the idea striked, MS Bhaskar was the first image that came to my mind. His image as an innocent middle class man, is somehow embedded in our memory. Bhaskar sir is a great actor, like a Morgan Freeman or Robin Williams. Vetri’s performance, I promise we sincerely worked on it and designed it this way. It’s a very uninflected performance, I was very hopeful that it will work. I know there has been mixed reviews about it, it’s a learning for me.
4. I am a big fan of ‘Walter White’ Breaking bad. But MS Bhaskar did not remind me of him until I saw the credits towards the ending of the movie. Antagonism is often taken for granted in our films. But fortunately in 8-Thottakal, there was a beautiful humanization of the offender. His perspective was shown and as audience, we didn’t take any sides. Your thoughts.
8 Thottakkal can be written as an action film, if you look at the logline. A cop in search of his gun and a bank robber on a killing spree. But I wanted to write it on a different path, may be it’s the person who I am. Its more into the psychology behind a crime, the rejections that cause it, guilts that come with it, about the reflection of our lives, the values, moral dilemmas, the inherent search for love in all our lives. Love towards fellow humans is the only solution for our chaotic lives. This is what I tried to convey through this story, don’t know if I pulled it off.
5. Challenges during Filming. Can you tell us How as a team you overcame it?
Challenges, like any small film were a day-to-day thing. We had little money, but the Producers were very supportive in creative aspects. We had freedom. So many practical problems arise in execution, I kept pushing myself telling somehow I should complete this film. Not every producer, will fund a film like this. So with whatever resources we had, we made the film giving all our heart.
6. Some insights on the Cameras and Lenses used. Any special equipments employed? Can you tell us a bit about the locations used for shooting?
LensTiger Camera Rentals for the Aspirant
We shot the film on Arri Alexa, an older version since we couldn’t afford the latest Alexa XT. We used codex on it, to enhance visual quality. Master Prime Lenses were used. Most of the scenes were shot using a body rig, since Cinematographer Dinesh wanted to give a restless feel to the story.
Locations were kind of tough. We had shot all around the city, from Ambattur, Nolambur this end to Kanchipuram the other end. One thing is finding locations, obtaining permissions have become costly and difficult. People concerned should do something about it.
7. The lengthy sequence towards the end Where krishnamoorthy starts talking about life and pain. The scene was unusually long. But on a personal front, it was moving. Can you share the things that went in paper and during shoot that led to the construction of the scene. Did it really come as you visualized?
I am kind of an organic writer. Once I got this logline, started writing 8 Thottakkal without knowing what the next scene would be. It was like a cathartic process, as the characters grow up, incidents form, you realise where it comes from, the things that have influenced you in life till now. The hotel scene was where I discovered Moorthi, the various dimensions of his life. The system that has conned him. It changes our perception on the man completely. I kind of realised, got hold of the story.
From paper, it translated beautifully, Dinesh creating a language through movements and MS Bhaskar, through acting. The day of shooting this scene, gave me a satisfaction that we have made some good work.
8. There was something that ran throughout the film. The use of Children. Four kids. The first kid being the hero, who was sentenced for no fault of his. The second kid who steals the gun, the third kid who was shot in the bank and the fourth who was caught in a tussle at the climax. A definite pattern there. If you can talk about the philosophy behind, it would be great.
There are even kids in tea shops. We did it purposefully. Detective Somerset in Seven, worries about how could he ever bring a child into this society. It’s a very deeply written character. As a child, I grew up in rough circumstances. It was traumatic. The way children are projected in our films, with ice creams and dolls. I feel its not true.
In this story world, I wanted to place children very near to the crimes that happen. So that they witness it. Let them know about the harsh reality. Sathya’s character in this story is shaped by the circumstances he grew up. I ended his story with an open ending, whether he will forgive or seek revenge. Let the audience think in the shoes of Sathya and decide it. As adults, we should reflect if we are treating our children well. Are we giving them a good space to grow up?
Any others specifics you want to share with us?
Thank you to a lot of audience, for taking time and seeing our film. It has opened up some discussions, conversations, debates. I am happy about it. Will work on giving you people a better film, next time.
We Thank you for Your Time!