Sivan makes a difference | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

Sivan makes a difference

PTI |, New Delhi
Jul 18, 2005 07:29 PM IST

That Santosh Sivan is a man of many talents is reinforced by his latest film. Suman Tarafdar at the premiere of Navarasa.

Do not make the mistake of thinking that Santosh Sivan the cinematographer is almost a thing of the past as the director in him has been more in evidence of late. Though he continues to be part of mega projects like Paul Berges' Mistress of Spices, it is in the films like Navarasa that the sharp, perceptive eye emerges, and he combines his two roles best. Suman Tarafdar caught up with him at Cinefan 2005, where his latest film premiered on Sunday. 

HT Image
HT Image

A film on transgender people. That's an unusual subject. Why this?
Well, we always talk of being doing more for causes. There has been a lot of sympathy expressed for transgender people, but we have done very little for them. I wanted to create more empathy towards the 'third' gender, to give them a chance.

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What were the chances?
They have done all the roles depicting transgender people. This film has given them a platform to act - and now some of them are seriously considering acting as an option to earn a living. As a character in the film says, "for us life itself is a struggle."

For this film, I definitely did not consider other actors for their roles, as that would have taken away the authenticity.

And as a woman told me after seeing the film, she would look at them with greater understanding than before. That gives me great satisfaction.

How did the idea come to you?
I have a habit of going around with my camera and shooting a lot - various subjects. Among my shootings I came across these people and was intrigued by them.

The film has Bobby Darling playing himself. Was it deliberate?
Bobby Darling is trying to make it in Bollywood, in acting - something the film also shows. Yes, he was great to work with, very cooperative. Shweta, who has also been part of my earlier film, Malli was wonderful as usual.

The pitch of the film varies. Is this on purpose?
Yes, I wanted the film to be like their lives - they are into remix songs. Their music is on the higher scale. For them everything has a bit of a propaganda element - and that comes to the film as well.

The film combines different formats  - fiction, fantasy, melodrama and documentary styles to tell its story. The camera too goes close into their lives to bring out the essence of the Aravanis.

Is the festival depicted in the film real?
Yes, the festival is an annual that takes place in Villupuram in Tamil Nadu. Transgender people from all over India come to participate in this ages old tradition, which has only recently caught wider media attention. We shot the film on location, during the festival.

What are you currently working on?
Mistress of Spices was a great experience. We shot in San Francisco and Aishwarya Rai was good to work with.

I am also doing a Malayalam film - an entirely 'commercial' film.

And as a cinematographer?
I am not doing any film solely as a cinematographer for the next two years.

Which type of films has been more satisfying to work with - 'commercial' or 'parallel'?
Both. I enjoy all kinds of films, and making a film like Navarasa only becomes possible due to the support of friends and well-wishers. These are the times I live in and must record them the best I can.

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