The periodic boxing drama is set in the late 1970s Tamil Nadu and addresses the politics within the sport
Since the days of Attakathi, Madras, Kabali or the very recent Kaala, filmmaker Pa. Ranjith has found a way to discuss the harsh realities of the marginalised communities through immensely personal stories enhanced by terrific visual imagery and universality in the storytelling. His next release is Sarpatta Parambarai on Amazon Prime Video, where he documents the clash between two clans in Tamil Nadu, Idiyappa and Sarpatta, amid a sports backdrop in the late 1970s setting.
Vembuli and Kabilan need to fight it out at the boxing ring to settle scores, standing up for their communities. The lead cast of the film comprises Arya, Dushara Vijayan, Pasupathy, John Vijay, Kalaiyarasan, Anupama Kumar and Santhosh Pratap. The film has music by Santhosh Narayanan, a regular collaborator with Pa. Ranjith in most of his films. At Sarpatta Parambarai's virtual trailer launch head earlier today, the cast, crew and the director, in an interaction with the media, shared how the film took a lot out of them and why it holds a special place in their hearts.
"I wrote the script of Sarpatta after Attakathi when I was actively researching for my other film (Madras) in the North Madras area of the city. I was a witness to the sporting practices of the communities and heard many stories about the politics within the boxing culture. This film could have been set in any timeline, but I chose the 1970s because I thought it would be visually refreshing for a viewer. It posed a big challenge to document the era authentically and transport the audiences into another era without the cliches one usually witnesses in periodic dramas. Sarpatta is my most favourite among all the scripts that I have written to date. I am very confident about its result," said Pa. Ranjith.
The lead actor Arya's physical transformation for the film was nothing short of staggering. It wasn't the stereotypical gym routine that he had to alter; there were days where he didn't drink water for six days straight to maintain his look. He plays Kabilan in the film. "Ranjith was such a perfectionist that it's hard to satisfy him. He never okayed shots until I actually hit the opponent. He kept saying us not to act and that he had to feel the punch with the sound on the camera. Popular boxers from the 1970s coached and we felt more like real-life boxers, imagined ourselves as a Mohd. Ali or a Mike Tyson who had to master the sport. Everything about it was real, brutal and honest," he added.
Dushara Vijayan is cast as Kabilan's better half Mariamma in the film, a character who is the emotional centre of her husband's life. "It would even be an understatement to say that Mariamma is not a character, but an emotion. I am extremely grateful to have got such a powerful role so early in my career. It's certainly the strongest character I've played to date. The workshops for the film were very vigorous and I gave my best to present her individuality and identity on the screen," she exclaimed.
It's hard to imagine a Pa. Ranjith film without the music of Santhosh Narayanan; such is their association that you no longer see the story and music as two separate entities. A majority of the film's score was recorded during the lockdown, which had the two pushing each other to their limits by an extra mile. "I came into the project mentally and physically drained, having already worked on the music of three big projects. It was Arya's relentless commitment to the film that inspired me to give my best. Ranjith and I talked extensively on Zoom calls to get this done," Santhosh mentions.
"I generally don't have an opinion on the films I do because you lose the ability to judge it when you need to watch it nearly 300-400 times. Sarpatta worked for me every time I watched it. Ranjith has always allowed me to find my voice as a composer and develop a unique soundscape. Working on Sarpatta has been a heartwarming experience," the composer, who worked recently on Dhanush's Jagame Thanthiram, added. Character actors John Kokken, Pasupathy, Santhosh Pratap and Kaliayarasan too showered praises on the filmmaker for his perfection and expressed their optimism about the film, which will premiere across two languages, Telugu and Tamil, on July 22.