Ramarajan does the unthinkable on the sets of Saamaniyan
CHENNAI: The shooting of Saamaniyan (The Common Man) is taking place in a building on Anna Salai. On the fifth floor of a building, we see an ATM machine and producer V Mathiyalagan of Etcetera Entertainment greets us. “We have recreated a proper bank where the scene takes place and this ATM machine and the interest rates you see on the board are dummies,” he says. As the sets look authentic and surreal, he takes us to the green room where actor Ramarajan, who ruled the roost at the box-office in the late 80s and early 90s is seated. He greets us with a huge smile and says, “There have been several people asking me to give interviews. I chose not to as I really had nothing to talk about .It wouldn’t have made any sense. I didn’t want to discuss my private or political life as well. Now that Saamaniyan has come, I have started meeting people. I haven’t gone anywhere. I was in Chennai all these years and I am still updated about movies. Moreover, I refused a lot of scripts in between because they wanted me to play a second fiddle or an antagonist. I would never deliver a wrong message to my fans by playing such characters,” he tells us.
Ramarajan feels that cinema has changed especially with the way it is being made. “Back in those days, it was done in film reels and we had limitations. We need to get the shot right in a few takes. Now that it has turned digital, we have the privilege of going for retakes,” he laughs. Producer Mathiyalagan was stubborn in getting Ramarajan on board the project. “People still love him. I convinced Rahesh that Ramarajan sir will be my hero. He still has the aura and he still is a crowd-puller. I know the film will yield good returns at the box-office as the story is strong as well,” he remarks. As he talks about the script, Ramrajan gives a thumbs up and adds, “This is my 45th film and I am glad that the script is strong. In Saamaniyan, script will be the first hero, Ilaiyaraaja anna’s music will be the second, director Rahesh is the third and I am only the fourth hero. The movie talks about a relevant topic and I am glad Ilaiyaraaja anna came on board. There will be nostalgia in his re-recording and it will be a tear-jerker as well. Wait for it.”
Mathiyalagan reminisces about getting the maestro on board the film. “He was willing to do anything for Ramarajan sir. Also, we did not even sign an agreement. This project is being done with pure faith,” says the producer.
Director Rahesh says that the shot is ready and takes us to another cabin. He says, “This is one of the crucial scenes in the film. We have been shooting across several locations in Chennai and the film is in its third week of shoot. We have a few more schedules left and things have been shaping up well. For this scene we have Bose Venkat and a couple of other actors from the north. Also, we have as many as 42 members in the cast for this movie.” Rahesh places a briefcase and a gun on the table. Ramarajan calls us near him and adds, “I have never used a gun in any of my previous 44 films. This is the first time and I am finding it a bit difficult to use it. Radha Ravi and MS Bhaskar do it with ease. Probably I should learn quickly.”
Bose Venkat plays a bank manager named Adithyan and he opens up, “My character in Metti Oli was designed around Ramarajan sir. A rural character who dresses up in coloured shirts. I also had another opportunity to play his brother in one of the films and the project didn’t take off. I am happy that I am sharing screen space with him in this movie.”
The team resumes shooting and Ramarajan points the gun towards the camera as cameras capture it in different angles. As we exit, we see Ramarajan’s fans outside the venue cheering for him. He stops the shoot for a moment and waves back at them.