Interview with the 'Chennai 600028' director

May 28, 2007 Mythily Ramachandran

Venkat Prabhu, Gangai Amaran's son made his debut into film direction with the recently released 'Chennai 600028'. The film running to packed houses dwells on gully cricket.

Venkat, a graduate in Accountancy from Middlesex University, UK worked for a couple of years before entering films as an actor in 2001. His first film was 'April Madhathil.' He has also acted in 'Nyabagam Varuthey' and 'Vasantham Vanthaachu, but significant was his role in 'Unnai Charanadainthen' with Meera Vasudevan. Basically a singer, Venkat has given several stage performances in the US, Europe and middle east. Post 'Chennai 600028, the 31-year-old director spoke to Mythily Ramachandran.

Your debut film is doing well at the box office. It must be a great feeling isn't it?

Yes, certainly.

You have no background in film direction. How did 'Chennai 600028' happen?

S.P.Charan, (son of the well known SPB) and I are childhood buddies. After producing 'Mazhai' Charan was looking for a new script. I often write and showed him a story. He was impressed but we could not go ahead with it, as it exceeded the budget. We are avid cricket players since our school days, so I wrote a story based on Cricket and Charan liked it. Charan said, "Why don't you direct it? You can do it." I had no clue at all where to begin, although I had directed 7-8 music videos earlier.

The film is centered in R.A. Puram, a locality in Chennai. Is it based on any club of that area?

I grew up in R. A. Puram and the inspiration for the story definitely comes from a local team known as Evergreen Cricket club. It exists there still.

Interesting. Are the characters in your story from this team?

Yes, some of them - like Ezhumalai, who drives the ambulance services and Seenu who runs the provision stores. And there was this guy like Arvind who worked in a coffee shop.

Any difficult moments during shooting of the film?

Before the shooting commenced I was really worried. Charan had pinned all hopes on me and was investing a lot on the film. I didn't want to let him down. I was so anxious that the day before the shoot at around 12.30pm, I went and sat in the middle of the ground where the film has been shot. I sat there alone till around 3pm praying to God, 'help me through this.'

And the difficult shots?

Shooting the match scenes were time consuming and involved a lot of shots especially the boundaries and sixers. For one and a half months the team rehearsed their script and we shot it on a handy cam first. Only when they were ready, it was filmed. This saved a lot of retakes and expense and we could perfect it well.

What about feedback for the film?

Lots of people called up to say that they enjoyed it. There was this team from Coimbatore which called to say, "This is our story." And interestingly there was a love affair between a team member and the sister of another player similar situation like Karthik and Kalaiselvi in my film.

A lot of compliments must have come in. Any one you cherish?

My uncle Illyaraja is a man of few words. It was a surprise when he called me up one day and said, I haven't seen the film yet, but heard it is doing well. I am happy you chose to work with newcomers and have molded them well." He said with established actors, you can't do your script.

Bharati Raja said, "Hats off to you. It is really impossible for another director to bring out 'Chennai 600028.'

Your favorite character inn the film?

In the beginning it was Raghu and Karthik but as the film progressed, Seenu became my favorite. His line 'Enna kodummai saar ithi' is a spoof from the Tamil film 'Chandramukhi'.

What's next?

Make more fun films. I want to try all Genres of films but it must have a unique story line. I don't want to be typecast.

I am also thinking of a sequel to 'Chennai 600028'. Probably the 'Sharks' will compete at the nationals. I am working out on dubbing the film in Telugu. I have been approached to do the film in Hindi as well with a new cast.

How supportive has your family been?

My father Gangai Amamran and my mother Kala have been supportive. My wife Rajalakshmi is my lucky angel. I was jobless before our marriage but soon after our marriage I got a job. Raji believed in me very much.

Cinema and music must be keeping you busy? What do you do when you are free?

I enjoy the company of my daughter Shivani, she is four years old. I chill out with friends.

Click the Movie button below for more info:
Chennai - 600028


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