The misty mountains through which the morning sun peaks, the tall and mighty gopurams that belittle us each time, the waves of the ocean crashing onto the shore — every visual that manages to enchant us about Tamil Nadu was on SRS Shabharesh’s mind before he went on to conceptualise Thai Engal Thamizh Naadey, a music video.
The song, composed by Santhosh Narayanan, which encapsulates the hidden treasures of the state, which is culturally rich, was released for Pongal to unanimous positive response. We talk to Shabharesh, who previously had shot commercials and Manidhi song from Iraivi.
“The work on the song started almost three years ago, in 2013, when we recorded the song composed by Santhosh Narayanan in Sydney. Over three years, we have been patiently researching about places, cultures and practices in the state, and been shooting them one by one. We started shooting the visuals at Thiruvan-namalai — the shots are seen in the teaser of the song. The theme of the song is to show the hidden beauty of TN as seen through the eyes of a small boy.”
“I love Tamil, and needless to say, I love my state. To incorporate the different native instruments, we also set out on an expedition to many parts of the state. We met musicians from across TN and recorded them live. This will be my first non-film single, and will be a tribute to all the Tamils living across the world,” says Santhosh Narayanan.
The main purpose behind the song is to give a fresh perspective of TN to those who haven’t explored the state, and for foreign nationals too. “Many only think of TN as a temple state, but that is not true, we have so much more to us, much more sights to see and traditions to experience,” Shabharesh explains.
The crew had to overcome a challenge too many to make sure the output was of this quality. He says, “There has been no CG work done and the biggest challenge was the visuals themselves.” The eight-member team had to make some daring shots like the underwater one, where they had to use rigs in 70-feet deep water. A lot of the credit goes to Vijay Karthik, the cinematographer.
Interestingly, there are shots of jallikattu that are shown in the song, which had to be arranged privately at a ground. “Many of these sequences had to be staged so that we get the best visuals, and so that we don’t have to make do with what we can manage to capture. In a similar fashion, we are going to shoot a traditional Chettinad wedding in Karaikudi and a tribal wedding in Ooty,” says Shabharesh
One of the main struggles when doing the video was to convince officials and getting permissions to shoot the song. “This is not a government sponsored project, so we had a tough time explaining to the officials about the purpose of the video. We had to go through many procedures to get an aerial shot over the Thiruvalluvar statue at Kanniyakumari. This had never been done before and for security reasons, we were not allowed to do it at first. But thanks to some kind people, we managed to complete the shoot there the way we wanted it to be.”
Travel brings good company and this holds true in this case too says Shabharesh. “We got to meet some amazing people in this journey and also learn about so many new things. Not many of us know about a hot air balloon festival that happens every year in Pollachi, right? We hired two of these balloons for shooting this video. I hope this becomes an eye opener for people and nobody sees our state the same way again!” The video song will be released on Tamil New Year’s day.