Radhika Rajamani in Hyderabad
A trained cinematographer from the Adayar Film Institute, Chennai, and hailing from a family in films, Siva (Sivakumar) turned director with the Telugu film Souryam (starring Gopichand, Anushka) and followed it up with Sankham (again with Gopichand and Trisha).
"I always dreamt of being director and equipped myself while being cinematographer," says Siva who is ready with his first Tamil feature film Siruthai, a remake of the Telugu film Vikramarkudu releasing during Pongal.
In this chat, Siva talks about Siruthai, its hero Karthi and more.
How did you decide to make a movie in Tamil since you have done two movies in Telugu before?
The producer Gnanavel is a friend and we used to hang out together and talk about films. So we thought we would make a film.
Why did you choose the Tamil remake of the Telugu film Vikramarkudu?
Gnanavel had the rights of a Telugu movie and he said it was Rajamouli's Vikramarkudu. When I saw it, I said we could do it.
'We have made changes as per the Tamil culture'
How was Karthi chosen to star in the film?
It was Gnanavel's decision. He and Karthi are good friends and relatives. It was a good decision to cast Karthi.
Have you made changes to the original Telugu film?
Definitely, we have made changes as per the Tamil culture. We took the basic line of Vikramarkudu which was a fabulous line. We changed a lot of scenes -- had to do so. We have also added comedy.
In what way have you enhanced the comedy?
Brahmanandam's comedy in Vikramarkudu was more expression oriented. In Siruthai, we have changed the scenes and Santhanam (the comedian) has a different style. He has more one-liners. Santhanam has done a fabulous job. The comedy track is distributed throughout the film.
'Karthi is able to do comedy, emotion as well as action with great ease'
How was it directing Karthi?
Karthi is one of the best actors, a thinking artiste. I am glad to have worked with him. He is dedicated and gives 100 per cent. He did 10 takes for a shot -- a single shot without a dupe. He hits 20 people in that shot climbing steps, jumping, etc. There's a lot of technique. It's a tiring scene. That's the highlight of the movie.
Karthi is able to do comedy, emotion as well as action with great ease. It's his first mass movie. There are different stunts (a five stunt sequence differently shot), commercial dance sequences.
He also dons nine get-ups in the film in a song. He is a thief in the movie and camouflages himself in the nine get-ups. That is interesting.
How is the chemistry between Karthi and Tamannaah? They worked together in Paiyya too. How was it to work with Tamannaah?
There is great chemistry. Since they worked in Paiyya together, I am using that chemistry to bring out the romance. Tamannaah is a dedicated artiste and sincere. She is very young and gives 100 per cent of herself. I was happy to work with both Karthi and Tamannaah and it was fun too.
'Siruthai promises two and a half hours of good comedy, entertainment and emotional scenes'
How did you think of naming the film Siruthai?
We thought of Siruthai (cheetah) as the character is similar to the animal.
How would you describe the film?
It is an emotional mass entertainer which promises two and a half hours of good comedy, entertainment and emotional scenes packed in a nice way.
Where have you shot the film?
We shot the film in Hyderabad, Chennai, villages of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and remote islands of Thailand.
'I am working on two Telugu scripts as well as a Tamil one'
How did you become a director?
I always wanted to be a director. I had to work hard and learn the skills to become director while I was cinematographer.
You made your debut first in Telugu...
I got an opportunity to do it in Telugu as I knew people in the Telugu film industry.
What are you working on after Siruthai?
I am working on two Telugu scripts as well as a Tamil one.
Would you want to do direction or cinematography?
I want to concentrate on direction.
Which directors/films inspire you?
Akira Kurosawa, Decalogue (Kieslowski) series, Mani Ratnam, Bharatiraja, Balu Mahendra and S S Rajamouli to name a few.