Filmmaker Vasanth on how ‘Sivaranjiniyum Innum Sila Pengalum’ took shape

Filmmaker Vasanth S Sai, who made the critically-acclaimed ‘Sivaranjiniyum Innum Sila Pengalum’, talks about the men and women who shaped his perspective

Clad in a sari, her hair in a neat braid, an umbrella peeping from her handbag slung across her shoulder, a resolute stride: think Vasanth S Sai’s film heroine and this is the image that comes to mind.

She is always on the move: on her way to catch a bus to work; riding a scooter to keep an appointment with someone… In his latest Sivaranjiniyum Innum Sila Pengalum too, she is constantly on her feet.

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The film, that released on SonyLIV last month, is among the most talked-about ones of the year.

“I don’t think I would have been this happy about the film’s reception even if it had had a theatrical release,” says Vasanth, who was in Coimbatore to take part in the Vishnupuram Literary Circle’s award event. Vasanth admits he was initially bent on the film being shown on the big screen.

“The film’s journey began in 2018 when it won the Gender Equality award at the Mumbai Film Festival. From there, it travelled to film festivals across the world in 2019, and was the first Tamil film to be screened at most of them. I had to give it space for this travel,” he adds. By the time he readied it for release towards the end of 2019, the pandemic struck. Vasanth finally decided to release it on OTT, since he felt “it would get old” otherwise.

Also Read | ‘Sivaranjiniyum Innum Sila Pengalum’ movie review: An extraordinary portrayal of the ordinary

OTT, he feels, “is a welcome change for films that have serious themes. The platforms help viewers see important films with deep concentration, enjoy the many nuances they offer.”

Sivaranjiniyum…is an anthology, featuring three 40-minute films, each of which is based on stories by master Tamil writers Ashokamitran, Aadhavan, and B Jeyamohan. The cast includes actors Parvathy Thiruvothu, Lakshmi Priyaa Chandramouli, and Kalieswari Srinivasan.

The film explores the world of three married women: their desires, dreams, and little joys often swept under the carpet knowingly or unknowingly by the men in their lives. It makes for a powerful social commentary, one that Vasanth says takes root in filmmaker K Balachander’s school of thought, whom he considers his inspiration.

Critical thinking

The women in Vasanth’s stories shine with personality traits he admires in women in his life.

“This can be confidence, kindness, and perseverance despite their struggles. For a lot of women, it is never this or that. It is this and that.” Sivaranjiniyum… ultimately, explains Vasanth, talks about how women, in order to make people in their lives happy, often fail to make themselves happy. “It shows that you too are important. Your happiness matters,” he says.

Vasanth’s questions on society’s unfair standards for women started when he was as young as 10 years old. “When I was a little boy, Sunday mornings were meant to play street cricket. But that was when my mother would send me on chores. We lived in Alwarpet then and she would ask me to accompany my college-going sister when she went to get Zoology notes from her friend. I found this odd: I was just 10, but here I was, expected to escort my sister just because I was a male,” he says.

A still from ‘Sivaranjiniyum Innum Sila Pengalum’ | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Gradually, as he grew older, and started reading, he found the answers. Reading shaped his thinking, and Vasanth says it is his mother who initiated him into literature. “The very thought of my mother brings to mind the image of her seated on an easy-chair with a book,” he recalls. “She would send me to a library in Nandanam when I was in Class V or VI to borrow books for her,” he says. “Mother would instruct me to look for titles by Sivasankari, Indhumathi, Soodamani, and Anuthama.” When he started reading later on, the names came rushing back.

Vasanth started writing in his undergraduate years. He wrote short-stories, did a stint as a freelance journalist, and even set-up a small library at home. In fact, it is his love for literature that brought him to Coimbatore to participate at the Vishnupuram literary event held recently. “I spent the whole day listening to young and senior writers talk. I enjoy this,” he says. He hopes to share all that he learns with people. “This is my philosophy. Since I am a film maker, I do so through my films.”

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