Venkat Prabhu’s debut directorial venture, Chennai 28, a sport-comedy film, which revolved around a street cricket team from a suburban area in Chennai, went on to become a cult movie and a blockbuster. This was particularly remarkable considering that the entire cast was full of newcomers. Now, eight years later, the filmmaker returns with the sequel to the film titled Chennai 600028 II, with the tagline ‘Second Innings’.
“When I started Chennai 28, I had plans to make it a trilogy, like the Hollywood sports drama Goal on football. It didn’t work out then. The second installment is happening after eight years. By now, the boys have grown and matured. So, I conceived a new story with the same set of actors,” begins Prabhu.
“This is also about cricket. I would say that this is a proper sequel, and a sort of reunion for all the characters — Jai, Shiva, Premgi, Nitin Sathyaa, Arvind Akash, Ajay, Prasanna, Vijayalakshmi, Arun, Inigo Prabhakar, as well as a few new entrants like Anjena Kirti, Kritika, Sana, and Maheshwari. Now that some of the boys are married, I have to add more girls to the cast!” he chuckles. The Goa director addsthere are no drinking segment in the film, although TASMAC scenes are part of it.
We can’t help but ask if a similar sequel to Mankatha might be in the offing sometime? “Yes, I would love to do one, but Ajith sir has to take a call on that,” he smiles.
Venkat’s film sets are always filled with noise and fun. “I am used to working with multiple actors, as in Mankatha or Masss or Biryani. Though the lead hero is a big star, there are umpteen characters in the story. Now, I think it would be difficult for me to work with fewer characters,” he says, adding that actors should perform naturally, rather than act in front of the camera.
Talking about late lyricist Vaali, he says, “Vaali sir’s lyrics were the biggest asset for our original version. I miss him so much.” Vaali’s magical combination with Yuvan Shankar Raja is well known. “Yuvan has done a great job. The fun-filled highlight song Swapna Sundari which is penned by me, is rendered by Yuvan, Karthik Raja, Premgi and myself. Now, we have one more number to croon on stage!” Venkat Prabhu smiles.
The director adds though, that he has a long-cherished desire, which is yet to be fulfilled — “After Biryani, I wanted to make a film with PC Sreeram sir and Raja appa (which is what he calls his uncle Ilayaraaja). In fact, after Mani Ratnam sir, I wanted this super combo for my film. I even met PC sir. Somehow, it didn’t work out. But, I will definitely pursue it, and work on that script!”...