Advertising is about pre-defined,
visually conscious film making
between working styles in ad and film world
ads, it is important to tell a story in 30
seconds lucidly. If not, the client will reject
even before the audience. There is a lot of
demand from the client and agency about how
each and every frame should appear to safeguard
the image of the product. Advertising is all
about pre-defined, visually conscious film
On the other hand you have two and a half hours to
narrate a story in a feature film. Nobody is sitting
on your head to tell how a frame should look and it
is entirely up to you. Since I happen to be from ad
industry, I have my own parameters and look for these
features. That’s about it.
is difficult to make your debut film at 53.
From your own perspective, you would have
seen lots in life, experienced a lot and you
tend to learn many things. Hence you want
to make a film befitting the purpose of film
making. People wonder if I can make a young
film at the age of 53. I need to show age
does not matter and only the mindset is important
and I can do a film appealing to the youngsters.
For every film maker the inspiration comes
from somewhere, it could be from life or from
something that they have been exposed to.
When the film releases, I would tell you where
my inspiration came from because it is a very
important thought. It is something that makes
everybody reassess what they are doing in
It is difficult to make your debut
film at 53
Why a bilingual and why in Telugu?
When you want to make a film of certain caliber and
standard, you need to sell the product and it should
become viable. Thus we looked at two languages and
as 180 was fairly city centric project, there was
not much of nativity factor to worry about. It can
work across languages in terms of human emotions,
sensitivity and sensibilities that can appeal to common
man. There is no village traditions or practices but
a common culture that can work across other languages
outside India too. Thus when we chose such a subject,
it will not be optimally very good if we just made
in one language. And when you can find actors who
can work across two languages and speak two languages,
it is quite important to make the project in multiple
languages. If I had the chance, I would have done
the film in Hindi also but ended up making in Tamil
and Telugu alone.
Siddharth has tremendous talent
Siddharth, Nithya Menon and Priya Anand
am very lucky to have Siddharth, Nithya Menon
and Priya Anand on board. I know Siddharth
for a very long time and sent the script to
him as someone who is in the industry for
some time. Siddharth read it, liked it and
expressed his desire to be a part of the project.
I absolutely thought he was the right person
for the role. Siddharth has tremendous talent.
In fact we have not seen Siddharth in Tamil
for the past 7 years. However in the Telugu
industry he is a star in his own right who
has several hits to his credit. But in 180,
Siddharth will be perceived in a different
dimension by people from Andhra who are used
to seeing him in a different way.
As regards Nithya Menon and Priya Anand, I have
not seen their earlier work. I called and chose
them based on their screen test. I am very happy
to say that they lived up to what I dreamt that
they would do.
The three lead artists of 180 have rendered an
extraordinary performance and are going to be talked
about for it.
members of 180
There are a very few characters in 180. The supporting
cast includes Lakshmi Ramakrishnan, Janaki Sabesh,
Tanikella Bharani and M S Narayanan. Besides these,
we have Mouli and Geetha playing important roles
and their natural performance will be one of the
speaking points about the film.
When I got ready to make a feature film, everybody
expected P C Sreeram would be the cinematographer
as our association is well known in the industry.
But when I began the project, PC had already
committed himself to other assignments. That’s
when Balasubramaniem, one of PC’s assistants,
came to my mind. Balu is a well known cinematographer
in his own right, has around 15-20 films to
his credit and was always keen to do some
work with me. This was one major factor that
made me take him on board. Balu is extraordinarily
talented in terms of producing aesthetic visuals
and his work in 180 will be spoken about for
the visual appeal.
Balu’s work in 180 will be
spoken for its visual appeal
What baffles me about Sharreth is how his musical
talent is not yet tapped in the Tamil film industry.
I have worked with Sharreth in many ads for more than
15 years and he is immensely talented and is a musical
genius. When I started the film, Sharreth was certainly
on top of my mind and he was also quite thrilled about
What I looked for in my team was the dedicated
talent that would show keen interest in the film
and would give its best productive time to make
the endeavor worthwhile. I was not concerned about
the ranking of the individual players in the industry.
Sharreth really gave me that kind of time and he
has told in many interviews that he could have done
some 50 films in place of 180. But at the end of
it all, if you ask him if he is happy about the
album, he would answer in affirmative. That’s
the kind of work that he has produced.
Where did you
180 happens in America and India. We shot in San
Francisco, Hyderabad, Chennai and Malaysia. We did
a lot of groundwork on the places that we wanted
to shoot. Our executive producers Suresh and George
took care of things. We planned our shooting schedule
very well and executed it as planned.
I know Suresh and Bala for a very very long time
from my advertising agency days. When I had this
core story and the idea, I was looking for writers
whom I can work with and SuBa was the only name
that came to my mind. They were also very excited
about my idea. When ideas are conceived, sounding
boards are required. They were very good in it.
From their two member team, it became a three member
team and we worked together to create the script.
If we take all those scenes that we had rejected,
we can do two feature films in it. We created such
a scene bank. Although some of them are not in the
film, Bala would always say that we should have
found place for them in the film. Perhaps, I come
from the 30 second back ground, I wanted the film
not more than 2 hours and 15 minutes. I was always
conscious about the duration of the film. But now
the film stands at 2 hours and 20 minutes almost
close to what I said but still trying to get it
to 2 hours 15 minutes.
Cinematographer Balu recommended Kishore to me and
he liked the script. Kishore did Eeram and I liked
his work. As a film maker I believe that an editor
can bring about a valuable contribution to a film.
I would have conceptualized a scene and shot but
an editor can narrate the same scene in a different
format on his editing table. I was looking for such
kind of an input from an editor. I do the editing
for my ad films and I expected something above the
usual editing work from Kishore who took a while
for him to understand where I came from. He mentioned
that the directors in the industry expect the editor
to use all the shots that they had canned and he
had initially started on those lines. But I told
him I did not expect him to do that and I would
not even mind if he had told a story without utilizing
my shots. To me what mattered was how effective
the story appeared on screen. And then he started
contributing to the narration which was really worthwhile.
Certain key points which he came up with while editing
added value to the narration. That’s what
I expected and I am happy with his work.
Selvakumar who worked in Madaraspattinam is a very
nice man with very good aesthetic sense. He understands
the nuances of what we are trying to say and comes
out with beautiful work. He had lot of work in setting
up real locations in the film. Though we did very
few sets in the film, nobody would know they are
sets and they would look like real locations to
such an extent that people would wonder what work
Selva did in this film. I think that is his greatest
contribution to the film.
How did Sathyam
cinemas come into 180?
Sathyam cinemas and Real image are organizations
that have been working very closely over the years.
All screens of Sathyam cinemas are equipped with
Real Image digital cinema service. Earlier they
have co-produced Thiru Thiru Thuru Thuru. This time
around, when I talked to Kiran Reddy of Sathyam
Cinemas, he showed interest in producing the film.
Also my friend Srikanth of Agal films who earlier
funded Margazhi Ragam also agreed to come on board
and co-produce 180. Hence 180 is jointly produced
by Sathyam Cinemas and Agal films.
The USP of 180 is its script
is the USP of 180?
is a romantic film. When I say romantic film,
people immediately think it is a romantic
comedy, thanks to a preconceived mindset.
180 is not a romantic comedy. It has breezy
light hearted moments through out the film.
USP of 180 is its script.
Who is the target audience for 180?
Youngsters frequent the cinema halls today and 180
will appeal to the youth. As 180 has a strong storyline,
it would please all types of audience as well. At
the same time, 180 would make people think.
The new approach
in picturization of songs in 180
There are 6 songs in 180 and I did not want them to
be interludes. Each song is a necessitating factor
and would propel the story forward. Or it would express
a point strongly. Each song has a concept.
I first told the concept to Sharreth and asked
him to compose a tune for it, then got the lyrics
from Madan Karky and Viveka explaining the concept.
Choreographer was made to understand the concept
and film execution fell in line with this and the
editing was also done to accentuate the concept.
Film making of the song will appear to exaggerate
and stress the concept from starting to end.
A new technology was needed to execute this concept
and we had used in filming of the song. For example,
the power of a moment is brought out using extra
slow motion Phantom flex camera and to go with it
a very slow moving tune which is in line with the
slow tempo and also very few lyrical lines to match
the whole concept. But even through very few words
are used, they are succulent and are profound.
When you talk about choreography, you cannot have
ten movements per second and there can only be one
movement. So to create that one movement, it was
a difficult task for the choreographer. Filming
of course was done in Phantom camera with 2500 frames
per second. And editing was done to execute this
costume designer Komal Shahani and colorist
planned every detail in the scripting stage
itself. For costumes, we approached Komal
Shahani form Mumbai. She has done a great
job in trying to create the kind of sophistication
and westernization that we wanted because
part of the film was being shot in America.
Kevin teaches colorists on how
to finish a film
We got Bhanu who is a well known make up artist
and one of the best in the industry to do the make
up. Bhanu has been working with me since my early
ad days. She was one of the first to be on board
for this film. Bhanu has created the right kind
of look for the film.
When you put so much into the look of the film,
you want the best in terms of post production as
well. Mr Kevin Shah from UK, one of the well known
colorists in the world from International Colorists
Academy has been brought in. Kevin teaches colorists
on how to finish a film. 180 is his first Indian
feature film and he has worked only in Hollywood
films before. He is quite thrilled to see the kind
of look we have achieved in the film and is working
on giving the final finishing touches in terms of
colors and saturation in this film. I hope everybody
will like what we have created.