Saturday, 19 August 2017

Tamil and African cattle belong to same bloodline

It is going to be a film with thousands of heroes but, without heroism says, filmmaker Santhosh, who has made such movie, named after the legendary bull embracing sport Jallikattu. His movie 'Jallikattu, 5 - 23rd Jan 2017' is based on the 2017 youngsters uprising at the Marina beach in Chennai. According to Santhosh, this is the single largest peaceful, non-political, leaderless movement taken forward by youngsters in the past century.

Santhosh at the sets in Maasai Mara, Africa.

Speaking about this protest based movie, which is in the last stages of post production, debutante filmmaker Santhosh shared the journey his crew went through. Here are the excerpts.

How did you get the spark to make a movie on this neo-noir plot?

There are a lot of world movies from the past, like Turkish drama, 'Clash' that are the inspiration for this movie. But, the spark for me arouse when I myself was present in the protest. In the initial stages of protest, I was there at Marina when these youngsters were demanding for the raise in the ban over the traditional bull embracing sport. Initially, I was shooting the protest with my camera. Later, when the protest started to intensify, I immediately thought of making it a documentary kind of movie. So, we got few other units of camera along with a drone. Most parts of the protest were shot subsequently. Later, we built a story on this protest as background and now it is going to be a full length feature.

Initially, it was planned to be a documentary. So, how it turned out to be a feature?

When I was filming the protest, an idea popped out. This being a long living tradition, has a very lengthy chronological connect. So, we had a thought on why not it could be narrated on a non-linear structure connecting all the dots relating to Jallikattu. The movie basically has five story lines that meet at a single point. For these five story-lines, we have travelled half way around the globe to Maasai Mara, a tribal village in Africa and Harvard University in the USA. The back stories of our movie will overlap with each other and connect at the end. Though it has real time shots of the protest, we have mixed fiction with it to convey a lot about Tamil race and its antiquity.

Is this the first time you are into film-making?

Yeah, this would be maiden feature film. But, I started my career as an assistant to cinematographer P C Sreeram. Later moved to Hollywood to work as an operative cameraman assisting Academy award winning cinematographer Vilmos Zigmond. Also, I have already took a lot of films like Aadukalam, Visaaranai and Kaakamuttai to various international film festivals through my company. And, of course, Jallikattu, 5 - 23rd Jan 2017 will also travel round the world before hitting screens.

So, why is it Maasai Mara in Africa, how is it connected to Jallikattu?

Maasai Mara is basically a tribal village in Kenya, where science has estimated the earliest evidences of human mobilisation and cattle breeding. Also, the DNA of Tamil race and the people living in Maasai Mara have a lot of similarities. Surprisingly, the DNAs of the cattle here in Tamil Nadu and in Maasai Mara too are so similar. So, that portion of our movie will speak about the historical connect of Jallikattu.

Except for history, Jallikattu protest is known for a lot of political influence too. Does your movie convey those?

Yes, this would a holistic film that speaks about every single aspect of the Marina uprising. A big economic conspiracy is behind the ban on Jallikattu, which is being conveyed in the film. It is all about artificial insemination, we have spoke regarding the conspiracy. How, the corporate has planned to eradicate the traditional cattle breeds of the Tamil race is detailed in the movie.

What is the production value of the movie?

We have estimated the movie's production expenditure to be Rs 2 crores. This fund was shared among three co-producers, who are all my friends. Already, we had mobilised some Rs 1.5 crore during Chennai floods for relief measures. Almost, 80 per cent of the movie is over, we are now in the final stages of post production.

Who are all there in the cast and crew?

Since we wanted to have a face value less cast, so that it would not influence the message conveyed in the movie, we had to choose unknown faces to act. While, the crew of this film comprises of cinematographer S Ka Bhoopathy, Music director Ramesh Vinayakam, Audiographer Udhaykumar and editor Kasi Vishwanathan. The film is co-produced by N Jayapal, Guru Saravanan and Ganapathy Murugesh.

- Santhosh Mathevan,
Chennai, August 19, 2017

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