Cinematographer Siddharth has been a part of Kamal Haasan’s Nala Damayanthi, Yaaradi Nee Mohini and more. Recently he has added another feather to his cap with the release of Vasanthabalan’s Aravaan. We caught up with him; here is an excerpt from the interview.
Hi Siddharth Sir, first of all congratulations, we saw Aravaan and it is splendid.
How has it been collaborating with Vasanthabalan?
Well we know each other. The moment he told me it was a film based on Ventakesan’s novel Kaaval Kottam by this year’s Sahitya Akademi winner, Su Venkatesan. As you might have known now, the novel depicts 300 years of Madurai’s history. It is set in 18th century Madurai. I personally thought there was a lot of scope for photography and of course a lot of visual Imagineering.
What was the game plan before you shot the movie?
We chose digital format as we needed extensive footage. We had situations where there were people acting who had not faced a camera before. Another priority was making it visually appealing thanks to Vasanthabalan who had a clear idea of what he wanted and I have tried my best to achieve the same.
Wow, thanks for sharing that little trick with us. Sir, the posters for the film have been really impressive. They have a primitive soul that is hard to let go off easily, could you elaborate a bit on that?
To be precise, the first half of the film happens in a dry area near Madurai where civilization has not reached yet. We aimed to describe it as a barren land and so we went for that tone. Followed by shoots in a village near Madurai in March-April when it was really, really hot. We roamed around for four months to find locations for our shoots. Finally, we identified four locations: one in this no-man’s land in Madurai, then at Courtallam, Hogenakkal in Karnataka, and forest areas in Kerala and Andhra Pradesh. It was a great adventure. It is the location that sets the mood and the tone.
Nature is the best inspiration as they say. Has Aravaan been amongst the most exciting projects of your career yet?
Certainly it is and indeed it also has been a turning point in my career. I have only got positive vibes the day I started with this project.
Could you share with us any of your favorite scenes that keep surprising you?
Well I love all the scenes but since you are insistent I would say the first shot that we shot with balls of clay, where Pasupthay’s hand comes and breaks the clay and out come jewels!They were shot in the Achankoil forests in Kerala. For me it is also symbolic of a treasure that lies ahead. I am excited, lets see how the audiences react to it.
We are sure your fans will time travel to places they never imagined. Thank you for sharing so much with us Sir, we urge all of you reading this to hit the theatres and experience the magic.