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Starring: Arya, Amy Jackson, Nassar, Cochin Haneefa, Bala Singh
Madharasapattinam is releasing on
June 26, 2010
Madharasapattinam - Colonial Love and Bravery
It’s a long time since we had a period film in Tamil. The producers and the directors are terrified at doing a period film for the want of time, money and the efforts to create authentic details. When we say period film we don’t mean costume dramas like Imsai Arasan or Jaganmohini. We mean some thing like ‘Lagaan’ where the story happens in tune with the classic era.
AGS Entertainment which is producing many quality films of late has dared to venture into the difficult category of period films. The also have ‘Irumbu Kottai Murattu Singam’ up for release which is a kind of remembering a bygone era, But the same banner is also the producer of a genuine period film in ‘Madharasapattinam’.
As the name suggests the film ‘Madharasapattinam’ is a period drama set in the back drop of pre-independence India in the then Madras under British Raj. To be more particular the film is set in the Madras of the 40s and takes place in Vannarapettai (Washermanpet) area.
‘Madharasapattinam’ is written and directed by A L. Vijay who has earned a name for him with city subjects like ‘Kireedam’ and ‘Poi Solla Porom’ before. This period drama will be a different experience for AL Vijay to prove that he is good at all genres.
‘Madharasapattinam’ is a story of a dhobi, who is also a wrestling champ. Problems arises when a British girl Amy Wilkinson falls in love with the Indian boy as it was forbidden back then.
Arya who had a tremendous response for ‘Naan Kadavul’ but failed to receive the same applause for the next ‘Sarvam’. Here Arya plays the role of Ilamparthi, a dhobi who is also a wrestling champ. So Arya is hoping this film would resurrect his career which started off with very hopes. Arya knows the importance and has said from his heart ‘Madharasapattinam’ is bigger than his market value. The earnest actor is said to have performed his character with at most faithfulness much to the delight of his director. Arya says he had to work hard on his physique for the wrestler role. He also says that he wanted to look convincing as a wrestler and did his home work to imitate how a wrestler would fight, walk, or for that matter, behave in public.
Amy Jackson, the British actress who has also won the Miss Teen World title plays the role called Amy Wilkinson, the 18-year-old daughter of the governor of ‘Madharasapattinam’ who falls in love with Arya, the wrestler-dhobi.
Nasser, late Cochin Haneefa, Alexx O’Neil, MS Bhaskar and Bala Singh play other important roles in the film.
Music of the film is by G V Prakash. G V Prakash must have already tested the requirements for ‘Madharasapattinam’ while doing ‘Aayirathil Oruvan’ to some extent. The audio of the film was launched on April 4 in style. Kamal Haasan and Director Shankar released the audio from a set that re resembled the colonial era in every detail.
‘Madharasapattinam’ boasts of six songs penned by Na. Muthukumar. Roop Kumar Rathod, Harini, Andrea Jeremiah, G V. Prakash, Udit Narayan, VMC. Haneefa, Amy Jackson, Seenu, Naveen Iyer, Sonu Nigam, Saindhavi, Hariharan, Zia, Augustin Choir have rendered the songs.
Actor Cheeyan Vikram has also rendered a song 'Meghame Oh Meghame' with regal Madras feels and he has sung in five different voices, including that of a dhobi, a teacher and an old man. MS Viswanathan and Naseer have also performed with Vikram for this song.
Nirav Shah who worked for A L Vijay in ‘Kireedom’ and done most of Arya’s films till date is the cinematographer. Nirav’s camera work will be a special value to the film.
Editing is by Antony, Art Direction is by V Selvakumar and make up is by Pattanam Rasheed.
One of the expected films this year ‘Madharasapattinam’ is scheduled for this summer release.
Arya is Ilamparidhi in Madharasapattinam
Filmmaker Vijay is all praise for Arya, the protagonist of his forthcoming movie ‘Madharasapattinam’. “Without his hardwork and dedication, I couldn’t have completed this period film so early,” says the director of ‘Kireedam’ and ‘Poi Solla Porom’ fame.
“Arya plays Ilamparidhi, a wrestling champion. He would often say ‘nothing is impossible’. And he has proved it true in ‘Madharasapattinam’ with his performance as a Madras youth of the 1940s,” says Vijay.
On the film, he says, “with inputs from writers Prapanchan and Ajayan Bala, we recreated the old Madras. It is going to be a visual treat for the audience when they see Chennai of pre-independence era. The town was so beautiful then.”
Vijay adds: “G V Prakash Kumar’s music is no doubt an asset for ‘Madharasapattinam’. So are the lyrics by Na Muthukumar. I must thank producer Kalpathi S Agoram, who gave me enormous freedom without any restrictions on budget. On the whole, the film is going to be a classic romance.”
What did the city look like 65 years ago? The country was at the cusp of Independence. The Madras Presidency hogged most regions of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh, with Madharasapattinam as the commercial capital and at the heart of the freedom struggle in the South.
Tamil cinema makes a brave attempt to bring the era alive, as the Rs. 20-crore Arya-starrer “Madharasapattinam”, directed by Vijay (“Kireedom” and “Poi Solla Porom”) releases next month.
“The basic plot was a love story between a British girl and an Indian boy, and I needed Madras in 1945 as a backdrop,” says writer-director Vijay, an associate of filmmaker Priyadarshan.
“We had very few references of what the city looked like. Kamal Sir showed us Mylapore of 1947 in ‘Hey Ram', but the visual effects options back then were limited, and I had worked under Priyadarshan on ‘Kanjivaram' (the film spanned a period between 1919 to 1948) and ‘Siraichalai' set in 1919, so I had some idea about the work this would require. We couldn't find any film footage, and there were no videos back then, no matter how much we tried combing through the National Library here and the British Library in Pune. All images back then were in black and white, so we had no colour reference at all,” explains Vijay.
“People from 1945 are still alive, and we didn't want them to catch us by our throats. So, we decided to go meet them. S. Muthiah and Manohar Devdas helped us a lot with inputs. Mr. Muthiah gave us books because he had come here only in 1960. Mr. Manohar Devdas was here only in the 50s. But, he described the sights and sounds of the Madras traffic, trams, landscape etc. We met Mr. Ramasamy, who was Rajaji's P.A., and is now 85 years old. We met one Mr. Menon, who had a tea-shop on Mount Road, back then. I had three associates collecting clips and photographs from The Hindu, Kalki and Ananda Vikatan.”
The team referred to ‘Memories of Madras' columns (from The Hindu) and collected as many pictures of cars and transport for reference. Books, including Chennai Through The Ages by P. Rajaraman, Madras Rediscovered and Madras — the Past and the Present by S. Muthiah helped the research further. Art director V. Selva Kumar (“Iyarkai”, “E”, “Peraanmai”, “Phir Milenge”), cinematographer Nirav Shah, and the visual effects team from EyeCube collaborated to put all the pieces of the jigsaw together.
“We just kept poring through research from September 2008, and the deeper we got into it, we realised how much deeper we had to go, and we had to curb our enthusiasm and remind ourselves, ‘ok, this is not the story, it's only the backdrop'. It's fiction set in the backdrop of history. By March 2009, we started shooting because we had everything storyboarded with shot-division.”
The film has nearly 22 minutes of visual effects to recreate the beach areas, Kapaleeshwarar Temple, Rajaji Salai, Central Station and its interiors, Triplicane, Pycrofts Road, Mount Road with Spencer's and New Elphinstone Theatre, among other lanes and sights of Madras of yore.
“Luckily, my producers AGS Entertainment and Kalpathi S. Aghoram believed in the content, and asked us to go ahead despite the risk involved in a subject of this nature. We are showing an Indian boy in love with an English girl. Falling in love with the ‘enemy' and the ‘enemy' falling in love with you at a time when we hated them and they hated us.”
Apart from Madras, the crew also had to put up a Delhi set in Mysore to maintain the authenticity of events. “A few of the key incidents in the film are rooted in history. Such as how Lord Mountbatten announced the date for Independence to the media on June 6. So, we had to employ look-alikes for Gandhi, Nehru, Jinnah and Mountbatten. Did you know that August 15 wasn't considered a good day? The astrologers considered it a kari naal (black day), and requested freedom at night because the date couldn't be changed. And, that's how we got freedom at midnight!”
Amy Jackson speaks about Madharasapattinam!
Miss Teen World Amy Jackson is making her Kollywood debut in Arya's upcoming Madrasapattinam, a period love story set in pre-Independence era! Then I began looking for a heroine, I happened to see Amy's picture in the Miss Teen World pageant on the Internet. The moment I saw her picture, I knew that she was the person I was looking for. My only concern was whether she would agree to be a part of this project.
We searched all of England for her. In fact, my line producer in England, David Choudhary, after being unable to trace Amy, sent me pictures of 100 other girls to choose from. I told him don't mind looking at the pictures but I want Amy as my film heroine. Finally, we decided to have auditions in London and as luck would have it, Amy walked in on the third day. That was how she came to be part of Madrasapattinam, said Vijay, director of the film.
We always wanted to travel to India. Acting is one of my passions and this film appeared to be the perfect opportunity. When I went for the casting, I wasn't sure if I'll do the movie. But once I heard the storyline and met the director, I was sure I wanted to be part of it. Everyone made me feel welcome, not like how it is in England. I was able to relate with Vijay and we decided that it would be a good move for me to make, Amy said to a leading English daily.
I didn't know what to expect. However, it was a fantastic opportunity and Arya and Alex really helped me settle down. My character is Amy Wilkinson, the 18-year-old daughter of the governor of Madrasapattinam. A problem arises when I fall in love with an Indian boy as it was forbidden back then. My character is that of a kind, genuine person who loves Indians unlike her father and stepmother, she added.
Madrasapattinam is the revolutionary love story (of a Madrasi and a British girl) set in the pre-Independence era. Vijay, who directed Kireedam (Ajith) and Poi Solla Porom will direct this beautiful love story. Nirav Shah is the cinematographer and G.V. Prakash is the music composer. Vijay has elaborate plans to recreate the aura of the British era in India. Kalpathi Agoram, who gave the recent blockbuster Subramaniapuram, produces Madrasapattinam.
“Marudhanayagam inspired Madharasapattinam”
Madras of the 1940s was recreated at the Chennai Trade Centre on Sunday, as the audio of ‘Madharasapattinam’, a film set in the pre-independence era, was launched at a grand gala function.
The event was attended by some big names of Tamil cinema, including Kamal Haasan and Shankar. They were brought to the stage through a special train, which resembled the ones that were used during the British rule.
Produced by Kalpathi S Agoram for AGS Entertainment, ‘Madharasapattinam’ starring Arya is directed by Vijay of ‘Poi Solla Porom’ and ‘Kireedam’ fame. The director said in his address: “The promos and stills of Kamal Haasan’s ‘Marudhanayagam’ inspired my to do a film like Madharasapattinam.”
He added: “I request Kamal sir to restart ‘Marudhanayagam’. Such films should sure reach audience and they should not be stopped in mid-way. I thank my producer and colleagues for their cooperation and support for ‘Madharasapattinam’.”
Arya said, “The film’s budget is many times bigger than my market value. I am hopeful that ‘Madharasapattinam’ would be received well by the masses. Vijay has carefully crafted each and every scene.”
Kamal said: “Credits should be given to AGS Entertainment, who had come forward to produce such a beautiful film. Not just ‘Madharasapattinam’, but AGS has been constantly making movies with a difference.”
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