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Committed to their art

Sethu Sreeram, cinematographer and Tarun, choreographer, narrate their experiences in the making of the forthcoming Tamil film "Samurai."

IN SYRIA to shoot a song sequence for the film "Samurai", cameraman Sethu Sreeram and choreographer Tarun took time off to converse about themselves, their hopes and aspirations...

Sethu Sreeram goes about his work without much ado. He is aware of the difficulties that arise at different locations but is always willing to implement what the director has in mind. Though trained under Santosh Sivan (done nine films with him) he is a cameraman in his own right. He has done two independent films in Malayalam, of which one was a 16 mm film for the Malayala Manorama group of publications. "Samurai" is his third film Sethu has also made a short film "Blindfolded" for which he won the National Award (1999) and two international awards.

Asked in what way he could make a difference to this project he replied: "We have given a different tone for the entire flashback. In the film you will notice a distinct format. And this particular song sequence is like a dream. .

A degree from the Guru Nanak College, Sethu studied cinematography at the Film Institute in Adyar, Chennai. He wants to make a short film in Spanish, which deals with the subject of sleepwalking.

Why Spanish? "I just want to do something in a different language. Besides, Spanish is a language I like."

Working on "Samurai", he said, was a new experience. "Filming for 18-19 hours at a stretch, shooting at the Egmore Railway Station, a full night sequence, travelling from there to continue shooting in Chenglepet and then returning to shoot a song — each experience has been different,'' he reminisced.

Tarun,the young dance phenomenon is the son of B. Heeralal, who choreographed for films such as "Vanjikottai Vaaliban" "Guide," "Ganga Jamuna" and "Tere Mere Sapne". But, surprisingly, Tarun did not always want to be a choreographer. His dream was to be a pilot. He started off being an assistant director and went on to join cameraman Ravikant. Helearnt the nuances of editing with Sanjeevi of Prasad studios. A stint with Bhanu Athaiya, costume designer, and training in classical dance under K.J. Sarasa, made him decide onchoreography "In fact, that is what my father recommended — learn all aspects of filmmaking,'' he recalled. After teaming up with his father, he was ready to strike out on his own by 1985. "Nobody in the South gave me a breakand in1989, he headed to Mumbai with just Rs. 500 in his pocket.

The break did come though with a film featuring Sanjay Dutt. It was followed by "Bol Radha Bol," and "Deewana" Since then there has been no looking back. "Muthu," "Padayappa," "Arunachalam," followed and now he is doing "Baba". According to Tarun, grace is the most important aspect of dancing. "In `Tenali', I made Kamal Hassan concentrate on executing every movement with grace. How long does he take to choreograph a song?

"Depends on teamwork. Some take three days to finish.,

And how was "Samurai' shaping?

"Fantastic! The songs by Harris Jayaraj are good. I am lucky to be choreographing the best one — "Agaya Suriyan... ." It is mellifluous and the movements flow with the melody.''

Did he draw on international influences when he travelled abroad as, for instance, the shooting of the song sequence for "Samurai" in Syria?

"Just 10 per cent. Most of the movements I think of are rooted in our tradition. The song I did in "Mudalvan", "Uppu Karuvadu... " was nothing but folk. What about colour combinations and costumes? Do the producers have a say?

"In designing, yes. For the "Samurai" song, I spent almost two days in the "Aalayam" office deciding the look. Tarun has set his sights on Hollywood as a test of his talent in choreography as well as direction. And knowing his dedication and perseverance, perhaps this is a dream that could well turn a reality. Tarun says dancing is a good exercise.

"Indians should know their dances. They can indulge in the western tradition, but they should never forget their roots."

CHITRA MAHESH

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