We live in an age where dedicated fans need just a few minutes of focused, planned activity to make their favourite star trend on social media. That’s how release date anniversaries of even flop films end up trending on Twitter. On July 4th however, it will be 10 years since the release of a genuine classic like Subramaniapuram, directed by Sasikumar. Sasikumar has since directed only one film (Eesan) and has been busy earning his stripes as a saleable hero specializing in films with a rural setting. As he gets ready for the release of his next as an actor, Asuravadham, he spoke to us about Subramaniapuram and revisited fond memories of the film’s far-reaching success.
“It’s been a decade of Subramaniapuram and it’s a very happy feeling that it’s being spoken about fondly even after all these years. It’s not just an inspiring film for many other filmmakers but also a milestone and a benchmark for me. With each film, I look to beat the impact created by Subramaniapuram. I strive hard to better that level. Subramaniapuram‘s success is sometimes a burden to carry but it also motivates me to work harder. ‘Kangal Irandal’ still works as a fresh, exciting experience for everyone that sees it now. I myself look at it and wonder whether I was the one who directed it.”
ON COMPETITION FROM DASAVATHARAM AND OTHER BIG FILMS
“Subramaniapuram released two weeks after Kamal sir’s Dasavatharam. There were some other big films running too and we didn’t get good theatres when our film released. Sathyam complex didn’t pick our film for the first week, in fact. Shanti theatre gave us only their smaller screen; other theatres also slotted us only in the noon shows. The trade was sceptical seeing our poster featuring a group of rugged, bearded men.
On release day, I was getting a great response from Madurai straight away. When I went to see the film in Chennai’s Sangam theatre, where we had given away tickets to people who had worked with us, the response was very muted. I couldn’t gauge the film’s reach! I then went to Mini Udhayam, sat in the first row and saw the film with the public. They were highly involved, laughed and clapped throughout the film. I was experiencing the positive reports that I had heard from Madurai, first hand in Chennai. Ever since, I’ve been a regular at Udhayam for the ‘first day first show’ of all my films.
Thanks to the great word of mouth, for the first time ever, Sathyam complex picked up a film which they hadn’t initially released and started screening Subramaniapuram from our 2nd week onwards. It went on to run for 100 days there and we also celebrated our success meet there. Shanti complex also shifted us to their bigger screen. Mr. Venugopal from Shanti later told me that he had misjudged my film; we have since gotten really close to each other.
Another unique thing which happened to our film was, both Sun TV and Zee Tamil premiering it on the same day, with a small time gap. Sun picked it up from Zee, to whom we had initially sold the satellite rights.”
The Love From Kerala
“Subramaniapuram had a great response in Kerala too; it completed 100 days. A lot of Keralites had ‘Kangal Irandal’ as their caller tune. We got a standing ovation from audiences, who raved about the film saying ‘Adipoli’. Subramaniapuram‘s script book was released in Malayalam by their leading magazine ‘Mathrubhumi’; we later released the film’s script in Tamil and English too. ‘Mathrubhumi’ also featured me on their cover page and carried a 13-page long interview feature. We were also given the ‘Best Pathbreaking Film’ at an awards event in Kerala. After the release of Nadodigal (2009), I, Kathir and Samuthirakani attended this event and were floored by the great crowd response.”