Director Shankar talks about 'Indian 2', the challenges of the sequel, the use of new technology and more

Director Shankar talks about 'Indian 2', the challenges of the sequel, the use of new technology and more

One word that has become synonymous with director Shankar is Cosmonaut (Fantastic). That extends to his office, too. Amid the scent of candles and floor-to-ceiling windows, with curtains that match the furniture, stands a 6-foot-tall illuminated robot. EnthiranThe filmmaker, sitting on a long sofa, is clearly unconcerned as there are just a few days left for the film's release. Indian 2, Her much-awaited reunion with Kamal Haasan. Excerpts from the interview:

We hear you planned a sequel to 'Indian' (1996) soon after its release. How different was it from the upcoming 'Indian 2'?

after Indians At the time of release, it was Kamal sir who expressed his desire to make a sequel and though I too wanted to, I didn't have a story then. I told him that we have done whatever we had and if I get another plot, I will put it in front of him and if he likes it, we can possibly make a sequel.

You have already made a sequel in the form of '2.0', but that was only eight years after 'Enthiran'. There is a gap of 28 years between the two 'Indian' films and the first film has achieved cult status. How challenging was it to make a sequel?

The challenge itself is the first part (laughing)) We have shown everything in the first movie – how Senapathi is as a person, his background, character, his skill at martial arts Verma Kalaihis anger towards social injustice and even his own family. The challenge was to bring something new for the sequel. What he deals with remains the same, but the circumstances have changed and what he does forms the story indian 2,

A scene from 'Indian 2'

A scene from 'Indian 2' | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Kamal made Tamil cinema's first sequel 'Japanil Kalyanaraman' and recently also made 'Vishwaroopam'. Both of them and 'Ponniyin Selvan 2' did not get the same recognition as the first part. 'Indian' sequel is also divided into two parts, so how did you make it?

indian 2 This is a different story. It is about what the character of Senapathi would do in today's modern era. The first half of the film is like Scotch whisky. It has been brewing well in our minds for a long time and no matter what new idea we come up with, comparisons will be inevitable. Thoughts indian 2 It is much bigger than the first part; it is a pan-India idea. The first film takes place in the state of Tamil Nadu but the sequel depicts events happening across the country and naturally, it is bigger.

Senapathi, unlike other assassins, is someone who truly believes that the murders he commits are for the good of society. How did you initially write his character and how did it evolve in the sequels?

Indian Thatha It symbolises anger. When I was studying, I knew how much struggle I had to go through and how far I had to go to get a birth certificate, income certificate or community certificate. So, when I became a filmmaker, I wanted to turn it into a film. It is the same feeling of frustration that every common man has. Senapathi is a product of reverse engineering of that anger.

The aim of this film was to show a man who could justify his anger. This is how we identified with the freedom fighter; he is a man who fought for the country. He is a man who has protected us from enemies from outside and now when he has seen enemies within us who are harming the well-being of the country, he wants to eliminate them too.

Stories come from our own lives and we turn them into larger-than-life stories. We put the protagonist in a 'what if' scenario and create a plot. When stories come from within us, they have a sense of authenticity and they resonate with us. There is a belief that if the heart of 0.5% of people who watch a film can change, I would be happy. I strongly feel that films create an impact and pave the way for positive change.

The first time you worked with Kamal was in your third film and it was your biggest project then. How does it feel to be working with him after so many years?

Kamal sir has become more experienced and accommodating. If you think you have a point, you can approach him, tell him and get him to act the way you want. My favourite aspect of him is that more than an actor, he is a film lover; he keeps himself updated with the latest films and series. He is always on his laptop, browsing and gathering knowledge. My change is inevitable; if I am doing a film now, I have to keep in mind today's generation and how they react to different subjects, and when that happens, we automatically get updated.

Director Shankar

Director Shankar | Photo Credit: Thamodharan B

You have often talked about how you change scenes according to the lead actor and during the promotions, you mentioned an anti-gravity scene in 'Indian 2' that was difficult to shoot. Do you discuss these scenes with Kamal before finalising them?

When I told him the story, I narrated it and started shooting. During the shoot, we had to make sure that we discussed the scene and ensure that he was comfortable. For this, we had to bring technicians and rigs from abroad. Our priority was to ensure that he was comfortable and he ensured that by giving his best.

You mentioned earlier how prosthetics have come a long way since they were first used in 'Indian'…

For IndianWe took front and profile photos of Kamal sir, his father and two brothers. We gave them to the art director along with the character description and story to sketch Senapathi's look. At that time, the prosthetics were thicker and when the promotional photos came out, there was a discussion about how it didn't look like Kamal sir. This time, the prosthetics have advanced. This time Legacy Effects worked; I showed them the sequences from the first film and said that the actor's face wasn't visible much because of the prosthetics. Now the prosthetics have become much thinner, so you can see more of Kamal sir in the sequel.

Technology is something you have always used as a tool in your films. How did it work in 'Indian 2'?

Sometimes you need it for scenes, songs or action; it depends on the script. If a scene needs a specific technique, we have to find out what it is, where we can get it, who is an expert in it and how we can get it. The same strategy works with songs too. EnthiranI would not have used CG in the songs because the film is full of CG sequences. Because I wanted it to be natural, we shot it in Machu Picchu.

In indian 2 We have used Unreal Engine, motion capture, de-aging and performance capturing. RK Laxman's famous character The Common Man has been used as a narrative tool. For the 3D animation, we needed someone to do the performance and motion capturing and Guru Somasundaram has done that. Even though he does not appear in the film, he has done the job well and has also given his voice to the character. The de-aging parts will be seen in Indian 3.

Talking about songs, that is always expected of you and they have evolved in your films too. How do you look at them?

For 2.0 We didn't need songs at all. But the producers asked me to come up with some songs and use them in the end credits even if there was no space for them. That's how 'Endhira Logathu Sundariye' came into being. indian 2We needed songs and for that we had to think of the situations, from which character's perspective it is coming and when in the film it will appear. Based on that, we had to think from the character's perspective and imagine whether it is done in a dream sequence or in a live location. It is a thought process and wherever the imagination takes me, I go with it. To execute it, we need to figure out if it involves VFX or going to an exotic location to shoot it.

For indian 2We have the 'Calendar Song'. Songs for calendar shoots are usually captured on beaches with blue water, but since that has already happened, we needed an alternative that still gives the feel of a beach and blue sky. When we searched, we came across the salt plains of Bolivia, but it is not a place we can easily go and shoot. Only once a year, in February, after the rains, water accumulates on the salt plains. If the amount of rainwater on the ground is too little, the reflection will not form and if it is too much, walking through it will create waves that will kill the reflection. With so many cast and crew members as well as logistical issues like visas, we couldn't wait to make it look like a wildlife photography project. With a lot of planning and a little bit of spontaneity, we solved it. The sunlight is too strong there and it is difficult to even keep our eyes open, but the views we got are amazing.

Be it Sujatha or your recent collaborators, you have worked with many writers. How does this process work?

After writing the story and deciding on the scenes, I narrate it to the writers who usually record it earlier on cassettes and now through emails. When our stories go through the writers' minds, they come out more beautifully and with more flavour. Then I have to make some changes to make it viable for the film medium and it is a long process. I have worked closely with three writers for this indian 2 (B. Jeyamohan, Kabilan Vairamuthu and Lakshmi Saravana Kumar).

'Indian 3' is also almost ready, so can we expect two films from you in the same year for the first time?

If everything goes well, three films will be released this year. game changer This too is almost complete; we have finished shooting Ram Charan's portions and now only 10-15 days of shooting is left. indian 3There are a few scenes and two songs to be shot and if it is done quickly then all of these should be released sequentially.

A scene from 'Indian 2'

A scene from 'Indian 2' | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

With 'Game Changer' you are also making your debut in Telugu…

I have never done a straight Tamil film. My Tamil film gentlemen's The dubbed Telugu version became a huge hit and I must thank producer A.M. Ratnam for that. He bought the rights of my second film Kadhalan He produced it at a huge cost before we went on the floors and made it a big hit. Indian and even released dubbed version of my movies Mudhalvan And JeansHe made the Telugu audience like my work even though I did nothing except audio releases. It was really an amazing experience to see the affection of the people and watching our films and I wanted to do a Telugu film. I had tried something earlier but it didn't work out and I am glad that it has finally worked out. game changerI enjoy watching Telugu movies extensively and I wanted to make one too. game changer It will be a film that will have all the elements that the audience expects from us. Karthik Subbaraj has written the story and I have converted that line into a film.

And in 2024, you are entering your 31st year as a filmmaker. How has your journey been and how do you keep yourself updated?

I can't believe it's been 31 years (Smile), it feels like just a decade or so. It's because of the audience; if we care for them and serve them without any pretenses, they repay it with love and success. When they do that, the only way we can repay them is by giving them something better next time and that also increases their expectations from us. We can't just give in to those expectations or stick to what we have as a story and make sure that both these aspects meet at a certain point. We need to have a great story that appeals to both us and the audience. If we work on it honestly in every film, people will never leave us.

Indian 2 is releasing this Friday

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