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Review: Book on ‘Subramaniapuram’ is a treasure

Subramaniapuram was a trendsetter in Tamil cinema in 2008. It was a story that brought alive the Madurai of the 1980s on screen, a gritty tale of friendship and betrayal, of love and revenge told realistically. Not to forget its memorable music. Remember composer James Vasanthan’s song Kangal Irandal?

Bollywood director Anurag Kashyap called it his favourite film of the last decade and in his Hindi remake of the film, Gangs of Wasseypur, he made an acknowledgement: “To the Madurai triumvirate, Bala, Ameer Sultan and M. Sasi Kumar, for inspiring me to go back to my roots.”

The English translation of this film’s screenplay is in print and was recently released in Chennai.

Written by director Sasi Kumar and edited by Anand Pandian, an associate professor of anthropology at John Hopkins University, this book includes the screenplay, essays on the film, movie stills and unseen photographs from the sets.

It also features an interview with Kumar, who reveals how he got hooked onto cinema during his school days in a boarding school in Kodaikanal where films were screened during weekends. The director, then a class eight student, found a companion to share his passion — his music teacher Vasanthan. Vasanthan later introduced him to Satyajit Ray courtesy Pather Panchali, a film that left young Kumar stunned.

Little did the duo then know that their cinematic journey would commence with Subramaniapuram.

Kumar began his innings in the film industry with the clapboard, learning under the likes of directors Bala and Ameer, before going solo.

The book also includes anecdotes on the hurdles the Subramaniapuram team had to deal with during its making. For instance, the actor initially chosen to play the character of Paraman was not willing to change his hair and physical appearance, forcing Kumar to ultimately take on the role himself.

Published by Blaft Publications, the book is available online and is priced at Rs595 (Dh35).