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The "Samurai" story

Director Balaji and actress Anita relate their experiences while shooting for the film "Samurai" on the exotic locales of Syria

THE FILMING of a song sequence for the film "Samurai" took the cast all the way to exotic Syria. Amid hectic shooting schedules, lead player Anita and director Balaji found time to talk about their experiences...

W hen you see a beautiful heroine in a song sequence, clad in a flowing costume, gazing romantically at the hero, you are at once transported to a world of romance. But little does one realise how much effort goes into the making of the scene. For Anita, the heroine, trying to tumble on the white sand in an uncomfortable outfit again and again in an attempt to get that sensuous look for the song, was part of the romance of making the film.

She had to look deeply in love when all she could feel was the blazing sun over her head and the dust in her shoes. But then, she said, "It's all part of the game."

Anita is just in her twenties but has big ambitions — of making it to the top. She loves shopping, eating chocolates, and thinks Jyotika and Kajol are the ultimate when it comes to acting. And once you interact with her you discover the extremely vulnerable girl behind that façade of leading lady.

In a way, she is very much a beginner, though she has done the successful Telugu film "Nuve Nenu" directed by Teja, Supergood Films' "Varsham Ellam Vasantham" with Manoj and is now doing the Hindi version of "Dil" and another Hindi film with Tushar Kapoor.

Anita is clear that though she would like to do as many films as possible she would not like to work round-the-year without a break. "I don't want my life to be on a constant roll,'' she said. "After a few years, I want to get married and take things as they come." On location, Anita was quick to fall in line with the pace of work. Cynosure of all eyes, there were many bystanders in Syria who wanted to take pictures with her. They would exclaim in Arabic, "We love Indians and Indian films." Well, this was quite true, for, one of the films playing in a cinema on Barada Street in Damascus was "Bade Miyan, Chote Miyan" with Arabic subtitles!

Anita hopes that her role in "Samurai" will fetch her accolades and perhaps more interesting projects.

And now, it was the turn of Balaji...

"This is a tough man's story,'' said director Balaji "which is why I wanted an Arabian feel for this particular song. The hard terrain was necessary to offset the hero's toughness. It is not enough if you just have the appropriate costumes.''

A man of few words, reluctant to talk about himself, Balaji was enthused by what he saw in Syria. "This is why we came here. Not just to feature a location, but to capture something unique. And thanks to producer Sriram, this setting came about,'' he said. "Normally towards the end of a film, producers are reluctant to spend so much on a song," he added.

"But when I explained the concept to him, he was at once convinced and wanted the costumes to be designed according to the terrain. Sriram's wife does costumes and they both encouraged me to go ahead with the song.'' The story of Samurai, which has taken a long time to make, is Balaji's own.

He believes that people are fired by imagination and would want the hero to perform feats they could never accomplish. "I imagine a hero to be one who questions the wrongs in society and works for its transformation,'' said Balaji, who trained with director Shankar and started his career with a Film Institute student, Anandaraj. He has worked with Pavithran in "Suriyan" and several others in the field. He was with Shankar, till he decided to launch his own project.'' I narrated several stories to leading producers who evinced interest but it was only `Sriram sir' who came forward to produce my story.''

Did he have Vikram in mind to play the lead role? Yes, agreed Balaji saying that only Vikram could play it to perfection. "He has that presence and is a controlled actor."

Did Balaji believe in a simple film with a strong storyline? Or did he give more importance to the story than to the presentation?

"When you look at a seed, it is simple but nobody knows what shape it will take. The story is important. Only then can we build on it."

And what is "Samurai" all about?

"The film has been made with social consciousness in mind. Everyone has become selfish. If this continues, what will happen? The film seeks to answer this question."

Will all his films have a social message?

"No," he said and expressed that each film he was going to make would be different." What did he feel about "Samurai"?

" Expectations are high all round. As a storyteller and scriptwriter, I am confident of its success.''

CHITRA MAHESH

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