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Interview Team : Kaushik L M; Venkat; Jeevakaran; D Meera Chithirappaavai; Avudaiappan

One of the key technicians in Vaalu is DoP Shakthi, a former assistant of the late Jeeva. Shakthi has worked in films such as Renigunta, Muppozhudhum Un Karpanaigal, 18 Vayasu and Ivan Vera Mathiri. Vaalu is his ticket to the big league and now that the film has opened in theaters successfully, Shakthi has every reason to feel optimistic about the future. Here he chats with Kaushik and Venkat for an interview.

Vaalu has released finally … How does it feel ? 

Yes ! I am extremely happy. The long wait has come to a closure. My career, after Vaalu, will be boosted as this is one of the big budgeted films that I have worked for. Other directors will gain the confidence on my capabilities to handle a project of this scale. 

How was this 3 years’ wait ?

We were subjected to a lot of negativity and stress but it never bothered us in a big level, and we managed it well. The result of the film after its release will stand testimony to all our endurance. We were so confident about the film’s content and there was no question of doubt in us regarding its potential.

What was Simbu’s approach like? How did he retain his composure during this phase?

The last one year, he has gone through a lot of changes, he is not the old STR. His confidence level has ramped up. His behaviour on the sets has gone through a lot of alteration in this one year. He has taken a very matured path, with respect to his physical and philosophical life. 

STR's behaviour on the sets has gone through a lot of alteration in this one year.

We hear that STR is very technically sound and aware. How is his technical knowledge with respect to cinematography? 

I can explain this only with an example. Few days back, he came down to watch a song sequence during the final leg of post production. We had watched the same song sequence, more than four times. He quickly spotted two errors, one regarding DI and another in the DTS mixing. That is his level of expertise. It is very encouraging when you work with someone who is technically sound. He won't interfere in our work but he observes our work in all the stages. He is also an expert in maintaining continuity even with the minutest details.

“Vijay Chandar’s positive energy is highly appreciable”

Bobby master introduced me to Vijay. Casually, he narrated Vaalu’s script to me. At that very point I decided that I will do the cinematography for this project. What really impresses me about Vijay Chandar is that he still holds the same excitement and spirit that he had, when he first narrated the script to me. His positive energy is highly infectious. Though he received many offers in the meantime, he was determined to release Vaalu first, before moving on.

How was Hansika’s commitment and co-operation to the project despite all these delays? 

The director had a great rapport with all the artists, be it Simbu or Hansika. So he could extract good work from them whenever needed. She gave us her dates without any hassles, and co-operated like a true professional.

Hansika co-operated like a true professional.

A self-appraisal of your work in Vaalu?

Initially we started shooting Vaalu in the film format but later we were forced to migrate to the digital format due to the retirement of film stocks. My biggest challenge was to match the sequences shot in these two different formats and make the changes look seamless. I am very excited with the way Simbu looks in this film. He is fresh, energetic and uber smart in this film. Vaalu will be a milestone in his career. I strongly feel that nobody can identify which portion was shot in which period, in spite of our extended shooting process of 3 years.
And interestingly, Simbu’s house in Vaalu was shot in 4 different locations. As the script demanded a railway colony backdrop, the backyard was shot near a railway track and it complemented all the other scenes with respect to the ambience sound. But nobody can identify, even in one frame, that the house was shot across so many locations.

Are there plans on reviving the ‘Love Anthem’, your other big project with Simbu?

Yes, we have plans. We want to bring more celebrities into this initiative and make it grander. Akon’s portions are done. We will plan the other celebs’ portions soon.

And Vettai Mannan? 

The trailer of Vettai Mannan is ready. Next in line for Simbu is Idhu Namma Aalu which might be followed by Vettai Mannan. We are completely ready with its first half. The second half shifts to a foreign location and we are looking at Bangkok. The location scouting is all done. We might shoot the remaining portions from November. Anirudh and Nayanthara might be the new additions to the team. It’s a dual heroine subject where we have completed Hansika’s portions and the other heroine’s portion is pending.

Anirudh and Nayanthara might be the new additions.

A few words about your mentor Jeeva and the fond memories that you hold? 

I have implemented all that I learnt from Jeeva sir in Vaalu only. Because Renigunta is not Jeeva sir’s shade. You will not see that shade in Vettai Mannan too. It is Vaalu where, from the range to the ambience, you will see Jeeva sir’s treatment style. I was very conscious in my earlier films that my work shouldn't get categorised under Jeeva sir’s style. But in Vaalu, I wanted to use his style. My favourite trait of Jeeva sir is the saying that he always repeated, ‘Talk less work more’.

Future plans? 

As I said, Vettai Mannan in November. The director Ezhil - Vishnu Vishal project is also in my pipeline.
We wish Shakthi all the very best in all his forthcoming endeavours.




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