Suriya on producing Soorarai Pottru: Wasn't sure whether other producers would spend enough to fulfil Sudha Kongara's vision
'A film like Soorarai Pottru can be made only if a director like Sudha Kongara spends two years of her life for the script. I think the time a filmmaker spends on paper enhances the overall mood of the film,' says Suriya.
"I think this is the new normal until we get back to what we used to do earlier. I'm sure, the routine of all of us has been affected because of the pandemic. As far as the film industry is concerned, we have to adapt ourselves to these changes until things get back to normal," opens up Suriya on his decision to release his film directly on an OTT platform.
Soorarai Pottru is not a complete biopic of Air Deccan Founder GR Gopinath. Suriya says that the film has only captured the highlights of Gopinath. In the film, Suriya's character name is Maara, and the story happens in Madurai, and not in Karnataka (birthplace of Gopinath).
"When Sudha approached me with the 44-page adapted version of Simply Fly (a book based on Gopinath's life), I was instantly hooked by the life of Captain GR Gopinath. He has changed the aviation business in India by allowing people to travel for one rupee at a time when others charged a bomb. Despite being a farmer's son with limited resources, he tried a lot of new things in life. He was into agriculture, motorbike dealership, hotelier, politics, agriculture, aviation and also served for the country. He was a retired captain of the Indian Army. Gopinath sir is someone who took up several challenges in life, and achieved it in style. Sudha has adapted his story by only taking up the highlights, featuring four important things. His life will be a big inspiration for the youngsters to achieve big in their lives," explains the actor.
Suriya adds that the script reading session initiated by Sudha has helped him a lot to get into the skin of the character. "For the first time in my film career, I had a script reading session. While working with director Bala, I don't even know what would be the next scene because he wants his actors to perform like how people react in real life. In our life, we don't know what would happen in the next minute, so it's his strategy. Few directors want us to perform and recite the dialogue exactly like how they insist. Sudha wanted me to read the entire script, and speak my lines months before the shoot. When she was busy with script reading session with other actors, I was shooting for one more film, and when I entered into the room, all the other actors were in the shoes of their respective characters. Generally, an actor would get attracted to his character only after four to five days of the shoot but the script reading session helped me get into the skin of Maara from the day one," says the actor.
Besides playing the lead role in the film, Suriya has also produced Soorarai Pottru. "I wasn't sure whether other producers would spend enough to fulfil the expectations and vision of Sudha so decided to produce the film under 2D Entertainment. We shot the film in real airports, and used real flights," says Suriya.
The actor also heaps praise on Sudha for being a taskmaster and completing the film in 60 days.
"Sudha is a producer-friendly director. She wouldn't even waste one minute on the sets. There was an instance where we had to shoot a scene that required rain effects. Sudha calculated a lot whether to hire water tankers or wait for the rain to come because it was cloudy. She was particular about not spending even a single penny extra.
Also, she expects everyone to run along with her. If she asks the crew to go for the lunch break, everyone should've had their food, and get back to shoot on time. I thoroughly enjoyed this new disciplined shooting process," smiles the actor.
Suriya says that Sudha has captured the life story of Gopinath from the mid-'80s to mid-2000s. "When Sudha told me that the film also has scenes featuring the 18-year-old-year-old Maara, I asked her to find a suitable young boy. But when I went to the graphics mapping process, she asked me to play the 18-year-old. I was hesitant at first but then, she made me do it. Also, the film required me to be super fit. If I work out just 80 percent for other films, Soorarai Pottru demanded 100 percent workout," says the actor.
In his film career, Suriya never played a Madurai guy so was it difficult for him to get familiar with the dialect? "In Tamil Nadu, for every 300 kilometres, people speak a different dialect. The Madurai slang was difficult in the beginning but thanks to Senthil sir, he was there throughout the dubbing process. Sudha has also beautifully used the dialect whenever needed. For example, Maara also lived in cities so, in a few portions, he had to speak normal Tamil but unintentionally, he also uses a few words originated from his birthplace," he adds.
Talking about the delay in completing the film, Suriya says "Quality matters a lot in these days. A film like Soorarai Pottru can be made only if a director like Sudha spends two years of her life on the script. I think the time a filmmaker spends on paper enhances the overall mood of the film. As actors, we also should put in our effort equally with the filmmakers. Soorarai Pottru changed me in several ways".
Suriya's next after Soorarai Pottru is an action entertainer with director Pandiraj. He also has Vaadi Vasal with National Award-winning filmmaker Vetrimaaran, and the actor has recently given his nod to act in Mani Ratnam's Navarasa, an anthology to premiere on Netflix India.
Soorarai Pottru will stream on Amazon Prime Video India from 12 November.
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