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DoP Sanu Varughese talks about Thoongavanam and Kamal

Sanu Varughese, the cinematographer of Thoongavanam has worked with Kamal Haasan in Viswaroopam too. Basically concentrating on commercials, Sanu does take time to choose his feature films. In a career spanning 16 years, he has done around 10-12 feature films, some of them are Farhan Aktar’s Karthik calling Karthik, Hasee Toh Phasee and Amitabh Bachchan’s Wazir in Hindi.


In an exclusive chat with behindwoods, he discusses about Thoongavanam, Kamal and working with Rajesh M Selva.


Kamal Haasan


My association with Kamal began during Marmayogi times, but the project did not take off. When he was directing Viswaroopam, he called me again and Thoongavanam naturally happened on those lines. We share a good working equation and it is easy to work with Kamal sir.  


Kamal and I used to talk a lot in between shots. Thoongavanam was scheduled in such a way we could have all those chats in the middle of the takes (laughs). It is very interesting talking to Kamal as he has an entirely different way of thinking. It was good to hear his take on life, science, his conviction and rationalism. I got to hear stories about old Malayalam movies that I have grown up on, which he was a part of. We share a lot of common interest and to me it was like going back to school.


Challenging aspect in Thoongavanam


I had to do something that I had not done before. We wanted to avoid all the movie lighting and worked mostly on the practical stuff. Sets were designed in such a way that the practicals would work for us. We also wanted to bring in lots of color because, today, a lit environment looks like a lot of colors in it, fluorescence of different colors, LED fixtures, sodium vapor lamps and so on. We wanted to bring in those elements in a modern urban lit scape. It was a different scheme that I had not done before, but attempted in Thoongavanam. I think it has worked out well for the film.


What did Kamal say to your work?


He liked my work; we matched quite a bit tastewise. Kamal is one person who would appreciate things for the merit of it. That way he is very good to work with. He liked what I did with Viswaroopam also.  


Difference between Viswaroopam and Thoongavanam


In Viswaroopam we were trying to picturize a real kind of zone, but not losing all the drama. What was going on was very real and unless you depict it with a sense of naturalism, it would have lost its impact.


In Thoongavanam too, we were roughly in the same scheme of things in approaching lighting and shooting the film, but it was a little more dramatic here. A lot of frames were shot handheld. The sets were lit 360 degrees and we could move around and shoot freely in the centre of action without worrying about what would come in our way. We wanted to free up the camera so much so that we can move freely and cover action. That was the effort.




I know Rajesh for a long time. His skills in scheduling and putting up a project together are impeccable. We used to discuss a lot before shooting and brainstorm and it was a very nice collaborative effort in Thoongavanam.


Every department in Thoongavanam was thinking of bettering their effort. They used to feel that they own a good part of the film in terms of their contribution. Rajesh is good in that way in getting the positive energy of the crew and also a lot has to do with his smart scheduling skills.


For a five day shoot, he would start with easy ones, move on to tougher ones and then end with lighter ones so that even if there was a spill over on earlier tough scenes, that were handled on the last easy days.  It was so well scheduled that the crew did not even realize they are doing something tough and it went on very smoothly.


Your next project


Whenever Rajesh starts his next, I will be there! 



Wish you all the best Sanu!


Jyothsna Bhavanishankar



DoP Sanu Varughese talks about Thoongavanam and Kamal

People looking for online information on Kamal Haasan, Sanu Varughese, Thoongavanam will find this news story useful.