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Saturday, October 18, 2008

Man of the masses

Today, in commercial Tamil cinema, Hari is one director the trade salutes. A look at the career graph of this low profile mass film maker, whose

Seval with Bharath is due for release this Diwali, shows why he is considered a safe bet by producers.

In the last six years, he has dished out eight films, out of which one has been a blockbuster, two have been super hits and three have been hits.

Hari is a producer’s dream as he sticks to his budget and completes the film in less than 75 days. All his producers have made table profit on his films.

Says M A Jinnah, a leading distributor and producer of Seval, “Hari is the safest bet in Tamil cinema. He has an awesome strike rate at the box-office and is one of the few directors today who makes films for the masses, catering to the B & C segments of the market. Did you know that Seval was sold out in all areas, even before the shoot was completed?”

What makes Hari’s films tick at the box-office? His films always have short titles which the common man easily understands and uses in his daily life. Some of his catchy titles are — Ayya, Thamizh, Saamy, Kovil, Aaru, Vel and now, Seval. Hari says, “I want my films to reach across to the masses, and the titles are very important. It should be taken from common usage in our daily life, easy to remember and should have reach.”

After he registered the title Seval and his next film Singam, two superstars approached him and told him they wanted the title for their films! Hari refused even though they offered him priority dates for a future project.

“My films work because of their title value, story and racy screenplay. For me, story and presentation are more important than the star. Of course, stars help my films to get a good opening but ultimately, it is the story and presentation that bring in the audiences in villages and small towns,” is Hari’s matter-of-fact explanation on how possessive he is about his titles.

Most of his films are set in village milieu and shot extensively in the Tirunelveli, Tuticorin and Kanyakumari belt. The characters and situations like caste wars, politics and ambience, have the south Tamil Nadu flavour.

His films are always about good triumphing over evil and his heroes are always larger than life. The man’s movies reek of heroism and have a lot of sentimental elements such as annan-thankachi pasam (the affectionate bond between a brother and sister), a hero introduction mass song and a melody plus crass comedy and mass fight scenes.

Hari is proud about the way he makes his films. “My films are sugar-coated family entertainers strictly for mass consumption. My theory is that the audiences should cry, laugh, enjoy and feel good at the end of the film.”

For a man born and brought up in Chennai, he understands the pulse of the people in villages. Says Hari: “I grew up in Chennai, but I could understand the mass audiences because my father and mother are from a village near Tirunelveli and during our vacations, we used to go there and mix with all our relatives.”
The people in the trade are saying Seval may emerge as the dark horse this Diwali.

Concludes Hari: “Seval has shaped out well. I have not tinkered with my formula; the story and screenplay are the strength of the film. Bharath has done a good job as he carries the film on his shoulders.
Simran is the pivot around which the story revolves. GV Prakash’s music, especially the melodious Thulasi Chedi, is already a chartbuster, It has all the fireworks associated with a mass entertainer.”

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