When jallikattu movement got the huge and unexpected momentum, many political experts were quick enough to strike a parallel between the historical protest and the Occupy Wall Street Movement that happened in 2011. In fact, they had incredible similarities. That exactly has made Santhosh, a debutant filmmaker, to unveil his semi-documentary feature film Jallikattu 5-23 January 2017 in New York before the iconic bull. In a conversation with DC, the director and his producer/ wife Nirupama reveal about how the film materialised.
Santhosh, who has worked with icons like Academy Award-winning cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond, and PC Sreeram, says he never planned to make such a film in the first place but it just happened — “On January 17 people started gathering at the Marina Beach. When I went there, I could sense something big was happening. Fortunately, we had a camera in our car and I started to film.”
On the second day, the protest got bigger and Santhosh realised he had to shoot everything — “We brought in all the cameras we had and started shooting hours of footages. By then I was not thinking of feature film, but a documentary. But when we got to know there was a presentation at Harvard University by someone about jallikattu, things got intense. We flew to America to cover the presentation. However, the person refused to be featured in the film, so we replicated the event with our own actor.”
Speaking about the feature film, Santhosh says, “It has a main thread that is the protest that lasted until January 23 and there are five other fictitious non-linear narratives that will be connected to the main thread. Kamal Haasan, Panneerselvam, and Markandey Katju will come as themselves in the film.”
Not only the protest in Marina, the film also covers the demonstrations that happened across the world — “I sent a cameraman to Delhi when ex-CM Panneerselvam went to meet PM Narendra Modi, and I have shot in Mumbai. Other than that, I sourced footage from across the world, wherever the Tamil diaspora came out against the ban.”
Bollywood director Anurag Kashyap is the executive producer of the film and when asked how he was roped in, Nirupama says, “Santhosh knew Anurag even while he was working with Mani Ratnam sir in Chennai. So, he readily accepted to be a part of the film.”
There is one drone shot of the Marina protest which Santhosh raves about — “Gandhi is the only film in the world, which features about three lakh people in a single shot. In this film, there is a particular scene which was filmed using a drone, and there are about 15 lakh people in that one shot! There are heads everywhere. We are also trying to get Guinness World record for that particular scene for featuring more number of real people.”
A trailer of the film might be released in a youth conference that will be held in Nairobi....