Chennai in the eyes of Cinema
Chennai’s tourist hotspots and landmarks inevitably make for settings of choice among filmmakers in the Tamil cinema industry. Be it in the song, Girlfriend from the film Boys or the chase sequence through the slums of Vyasarpadi in Vikram Vedha, the sights of the city are often as vital as the characters themselves.As a tribute to these popular locations, which stand immortalised on celluloid as the necessary backdrop to the stories, we got a handful of aspiring directors — all of whom currently work as assistant directors in the industry — to give us their vision of how they would like to keep these locations relevant in their films.
Romance by the beach
Not so long ago, the entire city appeared to be in the grip of the song Why this Kolaveri from the film 3, as it went viral with 130,942,300+ views on YouTube. The catchy lyrics and Dhanush’s cool moves remain popular among youngsters, and it’s hard to imagine another location for the song.
Movies to refer: Boys (2003), Chennai 600028 (2007), Marina (2012).
Dream scene: Rajendra Bala, 31, who has assisted director Karthik Subbaraj on projects such as Jigarthanda (2014) and Iraivi (2016) is clear about his favourite location. “I’d choose VGP Golden Beach as it’s isolated, clean and would be perfect for blissful romantic shots.”
Thrills in the mills
The Binny Mills compound is a popular location, especially for chase sequences. Think of the climax of Vettaiyaadu Vilayaadu (2006), with Kamal Haasan giving chase to the villians to save his love interest, played by Jyothika.
Movies to refer: Sivaji (2007), Bairavaa (2017).
Dream scene: Gautham Selvaraj, 28, worked with Pushkar-Gayathri for their recent film Vikram Vedha. He proposes, “I like Besant Nagar and the local market areas of Vysarpadi. I think the Broken Bridge would make a good location for a run-and-chase sequence.”
Action on the flyovers
When it comes to scenes depicting demonstrations, accidents or the whole city being paralysed to a standstill, an aerial shot of the Kathipara or Anna flyover is all-important. Note the scene in Ayitha Ezhuthu (2004) where Suriya gets shot and slides off the bridge on his bike.
Movies to refer: Mahanadi (1994), Kushi (2000),Theri (2016).
Dream scene: Bhargavi, 29, has worked with AL Vijay for Madrasapattinam (2010) and Rajesh for OKOK (2012), and is now working on Karu. She offers, “It has always been my dream to shoot a scene near the LIC building on Mount Road.”
By the railway tracks
For many fans, the city’s railway platforms became indelible in Tamil cinema with the moves of Prabhudeva for Chikku Bukku Rayile in Gentleman (1993). From scenes of blossoming romance to bittersweet goodbyes, most emotional journeys inescapably begin or end here. Among several similar scenes, the iconic one of Shalini and Madhavan meeting in a suburban station in Alaipayuthey (2000) is still considered a benchmark.
Movies to refer: O Kadhal Kanmani (2015), Vaaranam Aayiram (2008).
Dream scene: Amudhavan, 36, who is currently working on the post-production of Perambu for director Ram says that Chennai Central is all that comes to his mind when asked to choose a favourite location. “It is fascinating to see people from different cultures coming together with different emotions under one roof.”
Suspense by the subways
The underground enclosures of subways patently make for compelling backdrops to riveting narratives. Consider the scene in Pisaasu (2014) of Naga playing a violin, alongside beggars.
Movies to refer: Run (2002), Nepali (2008), Thupparivaalan (2017).
Dream scene: Parthiban Ravi, 26, currently working on Enai Noki Paayum Thota and Dhruva Natchathiram with Gautam Menon says, “Movies like Yuddham Sei and Pisasu inspire me. From a crime-thriller perspective, I’d think of a chase sequence at a subway near the Honda showroom, Meenambakkam.”
Life in the big city
The character of Chennai and life in the metropolis has been brought to the forefront in many a
Movies to refer: The story of a man experiencing culture shock after coming to the city for the first time in Anubavi Raja Anubavi (1967) to the challenges that one might face in the night, as depicted in Managaram (2017).
Fishing for trouble
The sprawling fishing harbours and hamlets of Royapuram and Kasimedu are the preferred locations for scenes of gang rivalries and smuggling activities. Think of Dhanush in Maari (2015) taking command over the area.
Movies to refer: Mugamudi (2012), Megaman (2014), Irudhi Sutru (2016)
The High Court has a way of emerging as a crucial setting in many films. Among other pivotal scenes, the one of a father with special needs fighting for the custody of his daughter in Deiva Thirumagal (2011) has made quite an impact.
Movies to refer: Avvai Shanmugi (1996), Manithan (2016).
The sea air for celebs
The seaside vistas at Pondicherry are much sought-after for celebrity photo shoots and song-and-dance sequences, as the locations set a perfect mood for romantic melodies.
Movies to refer: Maan Karate (2014), Darling (2015), Naanum Rowdy Dhan (2015).