By Mithun
“Whatever happens, regardless of the fate of my movies, I will be in this field” - Halitha Shame


The first time I met Halitha Shameem, it was outside the premiere show of her debut directorial - Poovarasam Peepee. She was hanging out with the protagonists of the movie – three boys – as if she was one among them. However, that perspective changed, almost immediately after the screening – the movie had a mature script with kids, generally touted immature, in the lead.

In a phone conversation with Halitha, I asked her why she chose Poovarasam Peepee to be her launch vehicle, rather than a less risky masala entertainer. Apparently, she had intended to start with one such movie. She had readied two scripts – an offbeat commercial script to be produced by Gautham Menon, and a romantic picture with a popular hero in the lead. However, the scripts did not materialize as Gautham Menon wanted to produce a grand movie, the scale of which wouldn’t be easy for a newcomer. But, she is confident that the scripts will happen, sometime later in her career.

Halitha began the journey by working as an associate under Pushkar-Gayathri and Mysskin. She holds them all in high esteem. She says, “Pushkar-Gayathri began the now famous genre of dark humor, way back in 2006 with their Arya – Pooja starrer, Oram Po.” She also said that it’s her mentors’ beginnings that have brought the present day new wave cinemas. She quickly adds, “Not just their movies, even they are really underrated.

Also, she takes offence with the term ‘female director’. When asked, she says, “I totally understand why the media prefers the term. Women in this male-dominated industry are special. No doubt about that. However, to be addressed so, is a little odd. In my seven years experience in the field, no women in the sets (except the heroine, of course) have been given any preference. Once inside the sets, I am no man or woman, I am just an Assistant Director. Hence, to be labeled female seems unwarranted.

Then the talk shifted to how Poovarasam Peepee happened, and she tells us the story of the movie’s origin:

To be frank, I never would have had the guts to tell this story, for a debut movie, to any producer. It all happened. I narrated this script to Manoj (the DoP and Producer of Poovarasam Peepee), in a friendly conduct, and he took the first steps for the movie. All he said was if I am confident about my script, he will fund the project. And, I was confident.

It is to be noted that Halitha Shameem is the director, script writer, editor, and lyricist of the movie. She added another department to this already long list - “I did the color grading for the movie, as well.”

When asked to pick her favorite department, she said that she has no favorite departments as such.  However, she picked Color Grading as the hardest.

She explains that doing all the jobs was not in the actual agenda, and that it became so because she felt doing the work herself was easier than extracting work from someone else.

So, we talk about her work in Poovarasam Peepee. Just like in her mentor’s Onaayum Aattukuttiyum, there are shots of god in almost every frame. She says that only two scenes – the scene of crime and the scene where a deity punishes the villains - were deliberate. All the others were improvisations done on location, by her and Manoj.

She then talks about her lead protagonists. She says, “Generally, kids in movies are so artificial that I can’t stand a minute of them. I wanted to make a movie that captures kids in all innateness as possible, and that is Poovarasam Peepee.

“Can kids be so intelligent, as in Poovarasam Peepee”, I asked.

Actually, kids are more intelligent than adults. Taking from my own example, I can say that I was more intelligent in my seventh and eighth grades than now. My research came from kids, and I had based my script only on what they are capable of.”

“Poovarasam Peepee probably is the first Tamil film to show male wetness on screen. How easy was it cranking those scenes? How did the boy and the unit react to it?”

My movie was about boyhood, and I had to be as transparent about that stage of life as possible, and that’s what you see on screen. Apart from that, the scene was also very much integral to the script. When you look at the movie, you can see that the boy’s whole attitude changes after that scene – he becomes more accommodating and understanding. Regarding my team, every member of my team was supportive throughout the movie and in this scene, as well.

When asked about her next project, she says, “I am totally clueless. Just when the head counts were increasing, the movie was pulled out of theaters. In the beginning, Manoj and I started this project just for the festivals. But, since it has had a release, and also a decent reception, taking it out of theaters is really hurting.” From this week, Poovarasam Peepee will have a theatrical run in Devi Multiplex, Chennai, and Inox, Madurai only.

She continues, “Now, I know what to expect. If movies that have comedy, gloss, and action are the ones this system will approve of, so be it. I will make one too. I need to establish myself. My first footing hasn’t been that strong. Once I find it, I will definitely make my kind of movies.

Finally, she said, “Whatever happens, regardless of the fate of my movies, I will be in this field.


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