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The story of cinematographer Prasanna Kumar capturing the bylanes of Chennai

Express News Service

Cinematographer Prasanna Kumar, whose recent film Sivappu Manjal Pachai (SMP) is getting rave reviews, says he owes much to Pichaikkaran, his first project with director Sasi. “In Pichaikkaran, there were a lot of road shots. We actually made Vijay Antony sir beg in the streets while we shot candidly from an auto,” reveals Prasanna, adding that one woman even berated Vijay Antony for begging when he looks fit enough to work, without realising who he was.

Prasanna Kumar

“That experience gave us confidence for SMP, which is based on the life of a street racer and a traffic cop. So we had to shoot a lot of race sequences for this film.” Unsurprisingly, the race shots were the toughest. “During the eight-month shooting, Sasi sir was sceptical about achieving the race sequences we wanted with the budget we had. He even went to the extent of changing GV Prakash’s character to a law student. But the conflict between him and Siddharth’s character did not work as well,” says Prasanna. The cinematographer and the crew persuaded the director to stick to a bike racer.

Capturing these race sequences was also fraught with practical difficulties. “If we had tired shooting on the main roads, we would have been at the police station the next minute (laughs). We had a lot of references from which we made a storyboard. We knew the sequences shot by shot and divided them in such a way that some of them were shot in Chennai, some in Pondicherry, and the rest were CG,” says Prasanna thanks to whose pre-planning the road shots were completed in just eight days. “Even after so much planning, we could not prevent a small accident where GV Prakash rammed into the camera van. We had to cancel the shoot for a week after that incident.”

The rest of the film was predominantly shot in residential areas of Chennai. “We had to be extra cautious while shooting the scene where a nightie wearing GV Prakash would be dragged down a building by Siddharth. We confiscated the phones of everyone in the area so that no one could take a video. We had a crew member on stand by in each of the houses as well,” adds Prasanna, adding that it was extremely hard to control the environment. “We needed the support of the local people. We could only request them to oblige; we could not dictate terms as it was their neighbourhood (smiles).”

Another challenge the team faced was shooting conversational scenes without having them look like soaps, Prasanna tells us. “We staged it in such a way that the characters would be doing something — such as walking, picking something up, and so on — so that the scene looked lively. The coffee-shop scene where Lijomol’s character holds both the male leads’ hands came at the spot while rehearsing.”

Apart from having Jiiva’s Seeru ready for release, Prasanna will also be working on Sasi’s next film, starring Harish Kalyan.

Source: The New Indian Express