‘Boxing is like penance’– these words of RanganVathiyar from Amazon prime Video’s SarpattaParambarai have indeed created an everlasting impression on the audience. For Pasupathy, a veteran actor, RangaVathiyar is a character that is close to his heart and Sarpatta Parambarai is a movie that felt like homecoming. Versatile actor Pasupathy opens up about working with celebrated Director Pa. Ranjith, trying his hands in boxing and why North Madras will always be his first home.
Amazon Prime Video’s Sarpatta Parambarai opened to great reception from the audience. Tell us about your relationship with North Madras and boxing?
I was born and brought up in North Madras, which is where the story of SarpattaParambari was also set up. I grew up watching the kind of boxing you see in the film and I also had practised a bit back then. This had a lasting impact on me that I wanted to work on a script about North Madras boxers myself. There have been many films about boxers, but there were no stories that were rooted. I had a sense of anguish and was looking for an answer to why such a film was not made. This is when Ranjith brought me the script of Sarpatta Parambarai and I told him that he beat me at it. When the script was narrated to me, so many aspects were close to heart. I felt like I had seen them in real life because I had lived during those times and with the kind of research that had gone into it, I just had to say yes.
Pa. Ranjith is one of the celebrated new-age Directors in Tamil cinema. How was your experience working with a young-gun like him?
When I was talking to Ranjith post dubbing for the film, I said, “Each and every one of them has worked so beautifully and he is the reason for it all.” Pa. Ranjith is the kind of Director who gives space for actors and ensures he has scenes for them. He created the moments. Irrespective of how good or bad you perform, there has to be a space for it in the film. Only the director can do that. An actor cannot do that. An actor acts within the space created by the director. The director has to give the actor the moment to act. Ranjith is excellent at that. He extracts work so beautifully.
Ranjith would tell me, “Anna, this is the scene. It will be good if you do it this way.” He’d ask me to look a bit dull in a particular place, or be aggressive at another point. We had discussed this in this manner during the making of the film. I think that’s also a healthy way to make a film. Otherwise, imagine if a director had to teach acting. Then, all the characters will end up acting in the same manner, wouldn’t they? Nobody can give that many shades in one moment. You need to work for a number of years to do something like that. Ranjith gave us that kind of freedom.
Was there any interesting trivia about the film that the audience should know about?
The most interesting trivia about the movie is that a good number of real-life boxers, who live in that area, have acted in the film. To this, many of the important characters in the film were also played by residents form North Madras.
Sarpatta Parambarai is a period-sports drama. What aspect of the film impressed you the most?
I have watched the technical team bring to life SarpattaParambarai and this is my most awe-inspiring moment. Art Director, Ramalingam, is actually from South Tamil Nadu. He has so beautifully brought the tone. What impressed me the most was that, in the 80s, when I was in my teens, I had seen it…it was so beautiful. He had captured the tone so beautifully, of Mint Street and other places. Many had worked hard to recreate that period, text, colour, and lifestyle of that era, including body language. There was a lot of detailed work.
Tell us more about getting into the gloves of Rangan Vathiyar. What was the preparation like?
We tried to create the body language of a man in his 60s in the 1980s. Ranjith gave me plenty of references. We worked with all those references. While I didn’t undergo formal training, because we just had a few montage shots for Rangan, we had met for two days to learn the body language and discuss how the character would be. We also worked on the basic body movement in boxing, how you would look, your body language…how a coach would behave…we worked on all these for two days. We called the master to the spot and discussed some of those things.