Interviewer : Jyothsna Bhavanishankar & Inian | Camera : Balaji | Text : Jyothsna Bhavanishankar
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Adman Jayendra makes his foray into tinsel town in 180 with Siddharth, Nithya Menon and Priya Anand as the leads. The recent audio release of the film has triggered the buzz around 180 doing a 360 amongst the filmiphiles. The prolific admaker has added zing to the visuals that stand out with the thematic appeal deftly captured over the teasers. Senior Editor Jyothsna Bhavanishankar and Inian attempt to capture the thoughts of the man of few words, Jayendra……..

Your journey from ad world to cinema

In 1986 I started JS films with P C Sreeram and have done around 500 ad films for many popular national brands. In 1993, I co-founded a technology company called Real Image with Senthilkumar. We created three revolutions in cine industry- we introduced Avid editing systems in editing, brought in DTS which enhanced the theatrical viewing experience and in 2000 we started Qube digital cinema technology which is the leading player in digital cinema that is being used in more than 27 countries in the world. Although I began my career in advertising in 1986, creating technology for film industry and marketing it took away a good 15-17 years of my time that I could not come to my passion which is film making. Now that Real image and Qube Technology are well established, I have returned to what I like the most. Two years ago I made ‘Margazhi Raagam’ a concept film and now I started my first step in feature film, 180 which is a bilingual made in Tamil and Telugu.

On the unique title 180

People are not used to just a number as a title for a film. Hence there are many explanations and validations to the title ranging from 180 days to 180 degrees. But the title is 180 and at this stage I can only say that this is the right one for the story. You need to see the film to understand its aptness.

Advertising is about pre-defined,

visually conscious film making

Difference between working styles in ad and film world

In ads, it is important to tell a story in 30 seconds lucidly. If not, the client will reject even before the audience. There is a lot of demand from the client and agency about how each and every frame should appear to safeguard the image of the product. Advertising is all about pre-defined, visually conscious film making.

On the other hand you have two and a half hours to narrate a story in a feature film. Nobody is sitting on your head to tell how a frame should look and it is entirely up to you. Since I happen to be from ad industry, I have my own parameters and look for these features. That’s about it.

Inspiration behind 180

It is difficult to make your debut film at 53. From your own perspective, you would have seen lots in life, experienced a lot and you tend to learn many things. Hence you want to make a film befitting the purpose of film making. People wonder if I can make a young film at the age of 53. I need to show age does not matter and only the mindset is important and I can do a film appealing to the youngsters. For every film maker the inspiration comes from somewhere, it could be from life or from something that they have been exposed to. When the film releases, I would tell you where my inspiration came from because it is a very important thought. It is something that makes everybody reassess what they are doing in life.

It is difficult to make your debut

film at 53

Why a bilingual and why in Telugu?

When you want to make a film of certain caliber and standard, you need to sell the product and it should become viable. Thus we looked at two languages and as 180 was fairly city centric project, there was not much of nativity factor to worry about. It can work across languages in terms of human emotions, sensitivity and sensibilities that can appeal to common man. There is no village traditions or practices but a common culture that can work across other languages outside India too. Thus when we chose such a subject, it will not be optimally very good if we just made in one language. And when you can find actors who can work across two languages and speak two languages, it is quite important to make the project in multiple languages. If I had the chance, I would have done the film in Hindi also but ended up making in Tamil and Telugu alone.

Siddharth has tremendous talent

On Siddharth, Nithya Menon and Priya Anand

I am very lucky to have Siddharth, Nithya Menon and Priya Anand on board. I know Siddharth for a very long time and sent the script to him as someone who is in the industry for some time. Siddharth read it, liked it and expressed his desire to be a part of the project. I absolutely thought he was the right person for the role. Siddharth has tremendous talent. In fact we have not seen Siddharth in Tamil for the past 7 years. However in the Telugu industry he is a star in his own right who has several hits to his credit. But in 180, Siddharth will be perceived in a different dimension by people from Andhra who are used to seeing him in a different way.

As regards Nithya Menon and Priya Anand, I have not seen their earlier work. I called and chose them based on their screen test. I am very happy to say that they lived up to what I dreamt that they would do.

The three lead artists of 180 have rendered an extraordinary performance and are going to be talked about for it.

Other cast members of 180

There are a very few characters in 180. The supporting cast includes Lakshmi Ramakrishnan, Janaki Sabesh, Tanikella Bharani and M S Narayanan. Besides these, we have Mouli and Geetha playing important roles and their natural performance will be one of the speaking points about the film.

On cinematographer Balasubramaniem

When I got ready to make a feature film, everybody expected P C Sreeram would be the cinematographer as our association is well known in the industry. But when I began the project, PC had already committed himself to other assignments. That’s when Balasubramaniem, one of PC’s assistants, came to my mind. Balu is a well known cinematographer in his own right, has around 15-20 films to his credit and was always keen to do some work with me. This was one major factor that made me take him on board. Balu is extraordinarily talented in terms of producing aesthetic visuals and his work in 180 will be spoken about for the visual appeal.

Balu’s work in 180 will be

spoken for its visual appeal

Music Director Sharreth

What baffles me about Sharreth is how his musical talent is not yet tapped in the Tamil film industry. I have worked with Sharreth in many ads for more than 15 years and he is immensely talented and is a musical genius. When I started the film, Sharreth was certainly on top of my mind and he was also quite thrilled about it.

What I looked for in my team was the dedicated talent that would show keen interest in the film and would give its best productive time to make the endeavor worthwhile. I was not concerned about the ranking of the individual players in the industry.

Sharreth really gave me that kind of time and he has told in many interviews that he could have done some 50 films in place of 180. But at the end of it all, if you ask him if he is happy about the album, he would answer in affirmative. That’s the kind of work that he has produced.

Where did you shoot 180?

180 happens in America and India. We shot in San Francisco, Hyderabad, Chennai and Malaysia. We did a lot of groundwork on the places that we wanted to shoot. Our executive producers Suresh and George took care of things. We planned our shooting schedule very well and executed it as planned.

SuBa’s contribution

I know Suresh and Bala for a very very long time from my advertising agency days. When I had this core story and the idea, I was looking for writers whom I can work with and SuBa was the only name that came to my mind. They were also very excited about my idea. When ideas are conceived, sounding boards are required. They were very good in it. From their two member team, it became a three member team and we worked together to create the script.

If we take all those scenes that we had rejected, we can do two feature films in it. We created such a scene bank. Although some of them are not in the film, Bala would always say that we should have found place for them in the film. Perhaps, I come from the 30 second back ground, I wanted the film not more than 2 hours and 15 minutes. I was always conscious about the duration of the film. But now the film stands at 2 hours and 20 minutes almost close to what I said but still trying to get it to 2 hours 15 minutes.

Editor Kishore

Cinematographer Balu recommended Kishore to me and he liked the script. Kishore did Eeram and I liked his work. As a film maker I believe that an editor can bring about a valuable contribution to a film. I would have conceptualized a scene and shot but an editor can narrate the same scene in a different format on his editing table. I was looking for such kind of an input from an editor. I do the editing for my ad films and I expected something above the usual editing work from Kishore who took a while for him to understand where I came from. He mentioned that the directors in the industry expect the editor to use all the shots that they had canned and he had initially started on those lines. But I told him I did not expect him to do that and I would not even mind if he had told a story without utilizing my shots. To me what mattered was how effective the story appeared on screen. And then he started contributing to the narration which was really worthwhile. Certain key points which he came up with while editing added value to the narration. That’s what I expected and I am happy with his work.

Art Director Selvakumar

Selvakumar who worked in Madaraspattinam is a very nice man with very good aesthetic sense. He understands the nuances of what we are trying to say and comes out with beautiful work. He had lot of work in setting up real locations in the film. Though we did very few sets in the film, nobody would know they are sets and they would look like real locations to such an extent that people would wonder what work Selva did in this film. I think that is his greatest contribution to the film.

How did Sathyam cinemas come into 180?

Sathyam cinemas and Real image are organizations that have been working very closely over the years. All screens of Sathyam cinemas are equipped with Real Image digital cinema service. Earlier they have co-produced Thiru Thiru Thuru Thuru. This time around, when I talked to Kiran Reddy of Sathyam Cinemas, he showed interest in producing the film. Also my friend Srikanth of Agal films who earlier funded Margazhi Ragam also agreed to come on board and co-produce 180. Hence 180 is jointly produced by Sathyam Cinemas and Agal films.

The USP of 180 is its script

What is the USP of 180?

180 is a romantic film. When I say romantic film, people immediately think it is a romantic comedy, thanks to a preconceived mindset. 180 is not a romantic comedy. It has breezy light hearted moments through out the film. USP of 180 is its script.

Who is the target audience for 180?

Youngsters frequent the cinema halls today and 180 will appeal to the youth. As 180 has a strong storyline, it would please all types of audience as well. At the same time, 180 would make people think.

The new approach in picturization of songs in 180

There are 6 songs in 180 and I did not want them to be interludes. Each song is a necessitating factor and would propel the story forward. Or it would express a point strongly. Each song has a concept.

I first told the concept to Sharreth and asked him to compose a tune for it, then got the lyrics from Madan Karky and Viveka explaining the concept. Choreographer was made to understand the concept and film execution fell in line with this and the editing was also done to accentuate the concept. Film making of the song will appear to exaggerate and stress the concept from starting to end.

A new technology was needed to execute this concept and we had used in filming of the song. For example, the power of a moment is brought out using extra slow motion Phantom flex camera and to go with it a very slow moving tune which is in line with the slow tempo and also very few lyrical lines to match the whole concept. But even through very few words are used, they are succulent and are profound.

When you talk about choreography, you cannot have ten movements per second and there can only be one movement. So to create that one movement, it was a difficult task for the choreographer. Filming of course was done in Phantom camera with 2500 frames per second. And editing was done to execute this concept.

On costume designer Komal Shahani and colorist Kevin Shah

We planned every detail in the scripting stage itself. For costumes, we approached Komal Shahani form Mumbai. She has done a great job in trying to create the kind of sophistication and westernization that we wanted because part of the film was being shot in America.

Kevin teaches colorists on how

to finish a film

We got Bhanu who is a well known make up artist and one of the best in the industry to do the make up. Bhanu has been working with me since my early ad days. She was one of the first to be on board for this film. Bhanu has created the right kind of look for the film.

When you put so much into the look of the film, you want the best in terms of post production as well. Mr Kevin Shah from UK, one of the well known colorists in the world from International Colorists Academy has been brought in. Kevin teaches colorists on how to finish a film. 180 is his first Indian feature film and he has worked only in Hollywood films before. He is quite thrilled to see the kind of look we have achieved in the film and is working on giving the final finishing touches in terms of colors and saturation in this film. I hope everybody will like what we have created.

Tags : Balasubramaniem, 180, Siddharth, Jayendra, Nithya Menon
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