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On the trail of a Tamil lion

Last updated on: October 7, 2009 10:07 IST

On the trail of a Tamil lion

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A Ganesh Nadar in Tuticorin

The Tamil film Singam means Lion in Tamil and Surya has whiskers to suit the title and the muscles to match the king of the jungle.

The action film, which is expected to release next year, is directed by Hari. It stars Surya as a cop and Anushka Shetty as the heroine.

Shooting is currently on in the red sand forest area of Therikudieruppu -- in the heart of Tuticorin district -- which literally means a desert homeland. And in this desert, in sweltering 40 degrees heat, Hari, who hails from Kachnavillai village 5 kms from here, has put up a massive open air temple.


Image: Hari and Surya on the sets of Singam

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This temple has an image of "Ayannar" that is more than 100 feet tall. There are other huge statues, fierce gods armed with fearsome weapons.

I remember Professor Dr Jussawalla, the head of the English department in Elphinstone College asking three decades ago, "Why are your Gods so fierce looking and why do they carry weapons?" to which the reply was, "They are meant to protect us, so carry they weapons to destroy the Asuras or evil people".

There was a profusion of silk. How the silk must be adding to the woes of the actors in this heat is anybody's guess. But in Tamil Nadu, if there is a temple festival, women and men dress up in silk -- the weather can take a hike.


Image: On the sets of Singam

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On the trail of a Tamil lion

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Like in any normal temple festival, here too they had cooked food to offer to the deity first and then to the devotees. Luckily they were not slaughtering goats.

Soon the woman in front and the men at the back lined up in formation. The dance director, a young girl looking clearly out of place in jeans and shirt, showed them the movements.


Image: Hari on the sets of Singam

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On the trail of a Tamil lion

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Here he comes, the Lion Surya followed by his man Friday carrying an umbrella. The umbrella had the words 'Tiger Woods' printed on it.

Surya too was wearing silk -- a dhoti and shirt. The make-up man touched him up to make sure there was no perspiration visible.

Surya joined the dancers in front of the huge "Ayyannar".

"Break," screamed the director's assistant and Surya heads back to his van.

Saravanan, the location manager, had ordered food from 'The Chitra Park". The vegetarian food had enough variety for a king and the curd rice was much in demand. There was enough water to fill a swimming pool.


Image: On the sets of Singam

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Next was a fight scene.

Surya was dressed up like an inspector of police, gun included. Fight master Rocky Rajesh explained the scene to Surya.

Rocky Rajesh has been a stunt director for almost 30 years now though he has not learnt any martial arts. "I learnt a little of everything on the way," he says even as his gold chain glitters round his neck.

Back to the scene. Surya got into a parked Qualis with a driver inside to shoot a scene. Surya was in the back seat. He had to strangle the driver which he did with elan. "Cut," screamed the director.

 


Image: Hari, Rocky Rajesh and Surya

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Hari has directed Surya twice before in Aaru and Vel -- two big hits. "Is this going to be a hattrick?" we asked. "I hope so," he replied with a smile.

The music director is Devi Shri Prasad while Gnanavel, a relative of Surya is the producer. He has produced the hugely successful film Paruthiveeran which was Surya's brother Karthi's debut film.

Paruthiveeran heroine Priyamani went on to win the National Award for her role in that heart breaker.

"Stop talking on the mobile and get those mineral water bottles off the sets," screamed the assistant. The director was holding a yellow hand made of wood. He told his actors to "just follow this yellow hand with your eyes".

The cameras came back on. The entire group followed the magic wand, looking to the left, right, up, up and up to see the mighty "Ayyannar" statute for the first time with awe.

There was this huge crane put up. We thought that the cameraman would get on top of it. Later we found out that it was only meant for the camera which shot close-ups of a statue of a cop, lions, horses and two huge dogs. The camera then panned across the temple and the red sand desert.

The villains started walking fast and furiously towards the open temple. They repeated this thrice before all were satisfied.


Image: Children check out the sets

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