Sasi opens up on Orey Baammardhi, the Telugu version of Sivappu Manjal Pachai, ahead of its theatrical release on August 13, what inspired him to tell the story of two brothers-in-law and his brand of storytelling
Tamil director Sasi is an unconventional filmmaker in more ways than one. The fact that he has done only seven films in a career spanning 21 years says enough about the man. He's secure in his head, never in a hurry, doesn't mind taking years to research on his subjects and is uncompromising in his creative vision. From action to drama to romance, the director behind films like Sollamale, Roja Koottam, Picchaikaaran, Ainthu Ainthu Ainthu has always taken up genres and themes that are widely accessible to the average viewer.
Yet, in terms of filmmaking style, Sasi has distinguished himself from the rest owing to his rooted approach in depicting the many complexities of human relationships. Now, his 2019 Tamil release Sivappu Manjal Pacchai starring Siddharth and G V Prakash Kumar is getting dubbed in Telugu as Orey Baammardhi. Orey Baammardhi offers a new insight into the often-ignored equation between two brothers-in-law. Ahead of its Telugu release on August 13, we caught up with Sasi for an exclusive chat. The man, expectedly, is unperturbed and relaxed as ever, unconcerned about the number game.
The offbeat casting of Siddharth and GV Prakash Kumar to play 'bava' (girl's husband) and 'bammardi' (girl's brother), relatives pitted against each other, is the film's USP. How did you finalise the duo for Orey Baammardhi?
I had another actor in mind to play the role of the traffic constable i.e. the girl's husband. When I approached Siddharth to play the role of the girl's younger brother, he felt it would be apt for his age to play her husband instead of her brother. I thought of it as a good suggestion and went forward with the idea. I opted for GV Prakash as the girl's teenager brother because I needed someone with a boyish look. There are not many Tamil actors like him who are equally popular and also fit the role so well. It was indeed a fresh on-screen combo.
What fascinated about you the relationship between brothers-in-law?
One of my close friends had once told me that he's more at ease talking to his brother-in-law than his own sibling. The conversations between brothers-in-law are liberating, generally free from inhibitions and the two can afford to talk frankly without judging each other. It becomes easier for them to express their innermost feelings - which might not always be the case with siblings. I've also observed that when the age gap between brothers-in-law is a lot, one of them assumes the caretaker role in the relationship. There's a fatherly bond that develops between the two and they can still be good friends. The rapport intrigued me and this being a lesser-explored relationship on screen will give audiences something new to watch.
The brothers-in-law in the film can barely tolerate each other in the beginning and are at either end of the law on many occasions. Ultimately, their relationship changes for the better. As a filmmaker, was it difficult to justify this transformation convincingly?
GV Prakash's character in the film is a teenager on purpose because that's when you do the most foolish things in life and almost get away with it. You begin to mature by the time you hit 21. Orey Baammardhi is about a man on the cusp of adulthood and another mature man with a clear head. It's this contrast that makes the film interesting. I interviewed many married people while writing the script and discussed the conflicts they faced with their marriages. In at least 50% of the cases, the problems were between the brothers-in-law. The girl is often caught in the crossfire between the husband and the brother and she can't prioritise one over the other. The film's seed idea germinated from this conflict.
The film throws light on the many struggles of traffic cops, depicting their mood swings, pressures and the mundaneness of being in the middle of action day after day without any complaints. And you also offer insights into the bike racing culture in adequate detail in the film.
The struggle is quite real for traffic cops and they need to face harsh realities at work, day after day while also dealing with personal issues sans any frustration. I came across a survey that the life expectancy of a traffic cop is lesser than the common man by at least 5-6 years, owing to their frequent exposure to dust, exhausts and air pollution for a major part of their professional life. They sacrifice so much for our well-being. I thought the portrayal of a selfless character would make for interesting viewing. On the other end, I had researched that the desperation to be a part of illegal bike races starts from 11-12 years and can extend up to the late teens. It was fascinating to bring together characters from two contrasting worlds into one story.
Be it Roja Koottam or Picchaikaaran or Sivappu Manjal Pachai, you've maintained a fine balance between the commercial appeal of your films and the realism in the storytelling.
I do that because my target audience is the common man. I would want him/her to identify with the film. I am not here to please the so-called elite sections of society. I need to tell stories a person of any class or gender would relate with and that would cater to their sentiments. Yet, I make it a point to elevate those stories on the big screen with the right purpose and present them in my style. I don't compromise on my craft and still give audiences what they want to watch.
Seenu, Roja Poolu, Bicchagadu - all remakes/dubbed films of your Tamil projects have had universal themes and enjoyed decent reception in Telugu. Didn't you ever think of doing a straight Telugu film after Seenu?
I was supposed to remake Sivappu Manjal Pachai with a new cast in Telugu but it couldn't materialise for various reasons. I have been in talks to direct a Telugu film for some time now and you may expect an announcement soon.
One of your most successful films Bichagadu/Pichaikaran is all set to have a sequel now. How do you react to the film being turned into a franchise?
I think my primary job as a filmmaker is to tell a good story in a commercially feasible manner and deliver a hit. Bichagadu was a successful film and with the sequel, I'm sure someone who's as sorted as Vijay Antony will do justice to the responsibilities he takes up. However, I am not involved with the sequel by any means.