Sanam Shetty, who is 15 films old in all south languages, and worked with the likes of Mahesh Babu and Mammootty, turns producer with an intriguing dark comedy titled Magie. In this female-centric film, Sanam plays the lead role of a girl hailing from North East and her character has dual shades. The highlight of the film is that it will be the first Tamil cinema, which will be shot in Meghalaya.
Mukul Sangma, the Chief Minister of the state, will be reportedly launching the film. Magie is extensively shot at Mawlynnong, which has the credit of being Asia’s cleanest village. Sanam talks to DC, in an exclusive, on turning a producer, her image make over and more..
At a time when Tamil cinema is going through a lean patch where even veteran producers hesitate to kickstart new projects, what gave her the confidence to bankroll one, we ask her. Sanam responds, “I won’t say that my number of years in the industry correlates with me getting into production. I know a lot of assistant directors, who have good ideas, but don’t get an opportunity to go ahead with them. A family friend of mine, Thirukumaran, who is passionate about Tamil films, wanted to venture into production. I thought of giving it a try with me being a co-producer and choose a script where I can essay the lead protagonist.”
The Ambuli actress adds, “In fact, we sat through for the narration of 60 scripts and finally zeroed down on Magie (tentative title) by Radhakrishnan, the ace dialogue writer for many films including Darling 2, Drohi, Aranmanai and Yamirukka Bayamey. I strongly believe that content is the king and if everything else falls in place, it would turn out to be a good product.”
On choosing Meghalaya she says, “The story revolves around me and there are two different shades to her. I am essaying the titular role with a new look — a girl, who is born and brought up in Meghalaya, a challenging character that is new to Tamil cinema.”
VJ Ramya, whose Bharatantyam version of Jimmiki Kammal became viral, says that she started following Malayalam cinema closely post Bangalore Days. She states, “I am a fan of Malayalam cinema mainly because I love the scripts they write. I follow their films quite closely now. I feel that Mollywood operates in a way that is completely different from Telugu, Kannada or Tamil for that matter. It’s because their films are not hero-centric — they’re story centric! We don’t get a feel that artistes from Kerala are out of reach or anything like that; they are not portrayed as super heroes with over the top punch lines.”
She also says that the way the women are portrayed is very commendable — “Manju Warrier, in spite of her age, is considered as a superstar there. We can’t expect that in other industries. Also, women are portrayed very positively in Malayalam movies — they are not misogynistic or sexist.”
Sharing with us about why even songs like Jimmiki Kammal are receiving overwhelming responses, she says, “Malayalis have a lot of creative expertise, which reflect in their songs and in the way they picturise them — everything looks different and attractive for from outside. Just before Onam, I was in Cochin and Jimmiki Kammal was played everywhere —even before I could watch the video, I could connect with the song and was eagerly waiting to see how it would be picturised in the film. Even if you remember the Pista song from Neram, it went viral and crazy. It’s because most of their songs are very simple and also spread a lot of positivity.”
On the other hand, filmmaker Jayaprakash Radhakrishnan feels that this phenomenon is not very new and people are getting to know more about this mainly after the advent of social media. “When I was in school, I remember watching Oru CBI Diary Kurippu in a theatre in Avadi — I think the film ran for over 100 days here. Similarly, the film Chinna Thambi was a huge hit in Kerala. I don’t think this is necessarily a new trend. But the likes of Maheshinte Prathikaram and Premam are getting a good reach because of the social media — multiplex audiences are the ones who mainly engage in discussion about good films. When it comes to songs, they have managed to become a rage only because of social media.”
Meanwhile, popular photographer Ganesh Toasty, who also did his own version of Jimmiki Kammal, echoes Ramya’s thoughts to some extent. He adds, “It’s very true that Malayalam pop culture has started becoming a very big part of Tamil pop culture — in fact, the song Jimmiki Kammal became a bigger hit in Tamil Nadu than in their state itself! But it’s not only the Kerala culture that’s finding a space here — social media has enabled everyone to embrace every culture. The Tamil crowd has now started singing a lot of Hindi songs and in my music café, two Telugu people came over and sang Tamil songs. People are now more willing to explore everything.”
(With inputs from Merin James)...