After assisting director Subramania Siva for five years, in 2014 Sumanth Radhakrishnan decided to venture on his own. And it wasn’t easy. Besides facing typical problems an aspiring filmmaker would generally face, he had other challenges to deal with. But all those struggles have paid off. Sumanth is all excited for his directorial debut, which will hit the screens this Friday.
Sumanth is confident that ‘Sadhuram 2’ will be recognised as the best Tamil film in slasher genre.
The genre is one of the elements that makes ‘Sadhuram 2’ a standout. Arguably this is India’s first slasher movie, inspired by Hollywood superhit franchise, ‘Saw’.
“Initially, when I approached producers with the Sadhuram project, I was asked to make a lot of compromises in terms of the script and cast for commercial reasons,” recounts Sumanth. He was not ready to either compromise on his script or casting A-listers in the film.
“I wanted to basically cast theatre artists and actors who don’t have stardom. Because the celebrity image of a well-established actor would have affected the film,” he justifies.
He wanted the audience to experience his work without sussing and saying: “probably this movie would have been better or different with this or that actor.”
So his search for a producer who would appreciate his ideas and artistic freedom hit a dead end. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise. After being turned away by many producers, Sumanth decided to go public to raise money for his film.
“I told a fan of James Wan’s ‘Saw’ franchise about ‘Sadhuram’, who agreed to contribute some money to my film budget. And he told another fan about my film, that fan told another fan, and the other and then I had about 35 people, who were ready to fund my film,” he says.
Sumanth had managed to raise about Rs 1.5 crore for his film through crowd-funding. Well, now he was faced with the most daunting task: make a slasher movie that would pass the litmus test of the censor board.
Sumanth could not afford to make his film as raw as Hollywood slasher movies that thrive on torture and bloody violence. On the other hand, he had to meet the expectations of the fans of ‘Saw’ series, who breathed life into his dream in the first place.
“I had to make a well-balance movie that would satisfy both audience and censor board,” he says.
In spite of walking a fine line while showing blood and torture, elements that form the basic premise of this genre, the film had a run-in with the censor board. “The censor board ordered several cuts with an ‘A’ certificate, which I wasn’t ready to accept. We moved the reviewing committee, explained them and convinced them to pass the film with a ‘U/A’ certificate,” he says. “So even a 16-year-old can now go to a theatre and watch the film.”
Since it is a physiological, thriller the background music plays a vital role in the storytelling. “The atonal string section, an important part of the rerecording, was played by Howard Shore and his orchestra,” he says. Howard Shore is an international musician, who had scored soundtrack for movies like ‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy.
The film with its modest 95-minute run time is set to release in about 100 screens across Tamil Nadu.“It is not easy to make a crowd-funded film as you are answerable to a lot of people. At the same time, for me it is a dream come true moment. I’m a huge fan of ‘Saw’ series. These films have a message and the message is to appreciate life. I know that fans have huge expectations from this film and I have done my best with the available resources and the budget,
“I think this the closest any filmmaker has yet come in recreating ‘Saw’ in India,” Sumanth signs off. “Now it is up to the audience to decide the fate of my film.” The film stars Yog Japee, Kaushik, Riaz and Sanam Shetty and has music by Girish.