Sensitive Frames

The movie ‘AngadiTheru’ produced by Ayngaran International depicts the everyday struggles in the lives of salespersons in the city. It highlights the vulnerability of the rural folk and abuse at the workplace.
ArunPandiantalks to Marie Banu about how he uses media to bring about social change

You started your career as an actor, and now have turned into being a producer. Do you have any intention of getting back to acting?
I haven’t started thinking about it. But I do not know when I will change myself. I joined the Institute of Film Technology for an acting course but spent most of my time in the direction, processing and editing department. Although I started my career as an actor, I was also part of the production team. I even distributed my first film OomaiVizhigal along with my good friend Abhavananm. Besides, I have even edited and directed movies. So, right from the beginning I have been involved in every phase of the film industry.

Are you happy being a producer now?
Yes. I love to give a social message in my movies like ‘AngadiTheru’. At every stage a human being starts learning something. We cannot be good when we start, but we can understand what is good and bad at a later stage. What I was thinking about commercial films earlier has changed once I established my own production company. We are now thinking of brining social reforms through our films.

When you entered the film industry, was there any resentment from your family?
My father was a colonel in the army and my uncle was the Vice-Chancellor of Ramachandra Medical University. Another uncle was an engineer, the first Executive Director for BHEL in South India and my brother was in the shipping industry. Everyone in the family was in a different line of work and therefore they did not stop me from joining the film industry, although there was slight resentment. But slowly, they understood that I had made the right choice.

What was the first reaction when you heard the story line of ‘AngadiTheru’?
I was amazed and impressed. The movie has projected abuse of both boys and girls at the workplace.
I have three daughters and I say that I am like a warden in my house. I know the value of women. I told the director that after seeing the movie, my wife should feel for the salespersons when she goes to the shop and every man should respect women.

When you wanted to produce the movie, did you think that it was a risk that you were taking?
Of course yes! It is a not a normal formula subject and you cannot find this kind of film made in the past. To be very frank, the director had narrated this subject to a lot of well-known producers in the industry. They had their own opinion, but my intention was different.
I was a little hesitant about the movie climax. On discussion with the director Mr. VasanthaBalan, we made it positive. He is a great director with a lot of caliber and lives with the film. I too live with my each and every production except for the big commercial films, which has no value addition to the society and has only the entertainment factor.

The movie depicts the life of salespersons in a shop in T Nagar. Did the shop owners object?
Bonded labor system and abuse of women is happening all over the world. This issue is common and the movie shows how the vulnerability of the poor people is abused.
For a movie, we need to identify a certain place for people to picturize the issue and so we chose T Nagar. We did not mean to project any individual and that was not our intention.

Of the issues projected in the movie, which one are you are passionate about: poverty, disability, unemployment or abuse?
The worst is poverty and abuse. After watching the movie, Madam KanimozhiM.P.said that she is proud to know that I am conscious of the issues in society.

Will you continue producing movies like ‘AngadiTheru’ or have a mix of commercial movies as well?
This film ‘AngadiTheru’ is also a commercial hit. This is what we want – good cinema. It is not whether it is a commercial or an art film. Once people develop a taste for good cinema, they will surely encourage such films in the future.

As a movie maker, do you aim for an award or is there anything else?
You are born to live and do something for the society. There are a lot of things that needs to be changed in and around us. Nobody is born perfect.
For example, I have been cleaning my plate for the last four years. I do not give it to anybody either at home or in office. It really helps a servant who is working in my house to feel that whatever work she is doing, is not demeaning. This may be a small issue but it makes the people around me happy.

How do you think that media could be used as a tool to bring about social change?
Awareness on social issues should be created. Also, media should highlight the ill effects of Coke, Pepsi, etc. My second daughter has not drunk Coke, Pepsi or mineral water for the past ten years. Recently, I read an article about a 101-year-old lady working on the roadside. Issues such as these, when highlighted in the media, will influence social change.