MUMBAI: Two creators. One mission. Cinematographer-director Santosh Sivan and ‘Vicky Donor’ director Shoojit Sircar are all set to make epic dramas set in the heart of the Sri Lankan LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) struggle for separatism. Both the political films seem poised to take off at the same time. Interestingly, both Sivan and Sircar claim the subject has been with them for a very long time.
Says Sivan, “The subject of my film entitled ‘Ceylon’ hovered in my subconscious for many years. I made ‘The Terrorist’ 13 years ago. That too was about the LTTE. However, in ‘Ceylon’ I want to look at the Sri Lankan situation from the perspective of a bunch of youngsters who get caught in the crisis. It’s more about the outsiders’ response to the horrors than about the politics. The cast will be new and we’ll shoot in Sri Lanka.”
Shoojit whose film, on the LTTE entitled ‘Jaffna’ stars John Abraham, is very clear on his intentions of doing his film. “It would not dilute the LTTE issue. There is no point in taking up a theme and not going all the way. It would be as self-defeating as doing my film on sperm donation (Vicky Donor) without any mentions of sperms or sex.” Sircar says his film would have all the known political personalities from the LTTE episode of Indian history, including Prabhakaran the LTTE’s founder. “We’re casting look-alikes for all the known political personalities including Prabhakaran. I don’t know what Santosh plans to do with the theme. But we are making a very real film with authentic characters. Most of the actors, barring John, would be new and they’d resemble the actual people they portray.” John plays a fictional character in ‘Jaffna’.
While Santosh would be shooting entirely on location in Sri Lanka, Shoojit would be shooting most of his film in South India. Says Shoojit, “I may sneak in to Sri Lanka to do a bit of shooting in the city of ‘Jaffna’. The city in a shambles. The people are on the brink of disintegration. I don’t think I can get the same spirit of devastation on a fudged location. But I’d be shooting the rest of the film in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. I can’t take any risks with John around.”
Shoojit says the clash with Sivan’s film is not a major confrontational situation. “I really admire Santosh’s work. But we’re two different individuals and artistes. He shoots his own films, and that’s an added advantage. The way he will look at Sri Lanka would be completely different from the way my cameraman Kamal Negi looks at the place. I want to re-visit the peak of the LTTE movement from around 1984-85 onwards. I want to tell the truth about the Tamilian population in Sri Lanka who have been massacred. ‘Jaffna’ won’t be an easy film to make.”
Says Santosh, “I will shoot in Sri Lanka after the rains. I don’t want ‘Ceylon’ to look like a touristic attraction. I want to go beyond.”