Arya on Sarpatta Parambarai, bringing North Madras boxing culture to screen with Pa Ranjith

'Instead of having boxing as just an element in the story, we have tried to narrate a life in the film,' says Arya on Sarpatta Parambarai.

Surendhar MK July 21, 2021 12:40:36 IST
Arya on Sarpatta Parambarai, bringing North Madras boxing culture to screen with Pa Ranjith

Arya in a poster for Sarpatta Parambarai

There have been very few hit Tamil films that have released on streaming platform since last year. However, Arya's adventure fantasy feature Teddywhich premiered on Disney+ Hotstar on 12 March, managed to excite the audience. Now, the actor is on the verge of landing his second OTT release, a period boxing drama, Sarpatta Parambarai. The film also marks the return of director Pa Ranjith after Rajinikanth-starrers Kabali and Kaala.

After holding onto the film's script for almost a year, Ranjith finally cast Arya in the lead. In a conversation with Firstpost, the actor discusses collaborating with Ranjith for the first time, preparing to portray a pugilist onscreen, and delving deeper into the script to understand its nuances.

“I knew that Ranjith sir has a boxing-based script in hand for a long time. I realised that I hadn’t done a sports-based film for a long time, and doing a film on boxing would really be a great boost to my career. I didn’t know Ranjith to the extent that I could go and ask him for the chance, but I took a shot through Kalaiarasan, who is my close friend. He didn’t say yes immediately, but when he did, I immediately told him that I was ready to shoot. He told me that he has just prepared the script, and needs six months of time to further fine-tune it. Once I heard the script, I was really excited, and it continued until the film actually got made,” Arya tells Firstpost.

Arya on Sarpatta Parambarai bringing North Madras boxing culture to screen with Pa Ranjith

A still from Sarpatta Parambarai

Arya says Sarpatta Parambarai is not "just another film" on boxing, as it explores the rivalry between two gangs way back in time. Physical training was paramount in the preparation for this role, and a dedicated workout plan was required to achieve the ideal physique. “This film required a fast and functional body, which was also muscular. So, a normal physique wouldn’t suffice and a dedicated workout plan was required. The pre-shoot preparations were at large, as I had to go to gym for 3 hours a day and also practice boxing throughout. National level boxers had come down to train me for the film, with other supporting actors such as John Kokken, Santhosh, Shabbir and Kalaiarasan also taking it up alongside me," reveals the actor.

Besides the physical labour that went into the role, Ranjith also held workshops for the cast.  “We had a 45-day workshop which was purely to get us ready for the film, and make us understand each and every detail in the script. Including the dialogues, body language and the North Madras slang, everything in the film was rehearsed beforehand. We were so prepared for the shoot, even before we started,” says Arya.

There are many classic boxing dramas from Martin Scorsese's Raging Bull to Sylvester Stallone-led Rocky series, so it's always hard to not take inspiration from them. Arya believes Sarpatta Parambarai's story is uniquely different. “We have seen films such as Rocky, and wish to bring out such an output. But without touching other films or areas, Ranjith sir had done a great deal of research for the film, about the North Madras lifestyle, the Sarpatta Parambarai - Idiyappam Parambarai rivalry, the social status, among other things. We even had real boxers come down and share their experiences with us. So when we took these thoughts and experiences into us and performed accordingly, the output was phenomenal. Overall, the 45-day workshop made the filmmaking process a lot easier, it helped a lot. This is a period film with a big setup, made on a grand scale. If we are well prepared, we save a lot of time.”

Had Sarpatta Parambarai released theatrically, it would have been a blockbuster for Arya, but he isn't averse to the film's OTT release.  “When international audiences come in to see this film, they will not be disappointed. Instead of having boxing as just an element in the story, we have tried to narrate a life in the film. When you watch the film for close to three hours, you will be transported to 1975 and it will be a very relatable experience on the whole. We are happy that it is able to reach a larger audience,” says the actor, who is also open to the idea of doing long-format series.

On a concluding note, Arya recollects his time with Ranjith as one he would love to cherish for a long time. “As a director, Ranjith sir stages his scenes in a very unique way. He always keeps it close to reality with a lot of natural elements. Without cheating his audiences using props, Ranjith sir pulls us into the ground reality of the situation that he showcases in his films, and you will feel the same when you witness the film.”

The boxing drama also stars Kalaiyarasan, Pasupathi, Dushara, John Kokken, Santhosh Pratap, Shabeer Kallarakkal, Johnn Vijay, Kali Venkat, and Muthukumar in pivotal roles.

Sarpatta Parambarai releases on Amazon Prime Video in Tamil and Telugu on 22 July. 

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