Tamil News

‘Pasumai Vazhi Salai’ Will Be Another ‘Pather Panchali’: Director Santhosh Gopal

In yet another instance of real-life incidents inspiring art, director Santhosh Gopal has announced plans to make a film based on the protests surrounding the proposed Chennai – Salem highway. Santhosh has previously assisted cinematographers PC Sreeram and the late Vilmos Zsigmond. He directed Jallikattu last year.


Twenty five percent of the film has already been shot, says Santhosh. “I was travelling to Harur (near Salem) when the project was in its nascent stages. All over, I saw officials charting out the road using satellite imagery. I believe that if they had gone out, spoken to people, and then charted it, there would be less emotional damage. Now, a field, someone’s house, anything can be taken away to make a place for the proposed highway,” he said.

The portions shot so far have not ‘directed’, Santhosh says. “They are completely organic. Even the decision to film everything happening around me was a spur-of-the-moment call. We all talk about Sterlite protests and the opposition to the Narmada Dam. But, to see something like that happen in front of my eyes was something else. That is when I decided to film; I was an observer at all times. I did not interfere in any way with the process. Whatever footage I have now is completely organic and real.”

A major part of the film will be fictitious, he says. “I am planning to introduce a lead character who will see the damage being done in the name of progress and try and find out the where, why and how of it.”

Actor Pasupathy has evinced interest to be a part of the project, says the director. Santhosh hopes to cast Aadukalam Kishore, Prakash Raj, Nagarjuna and Sriya Reddy in some important roles. Justin Prabhakaran takes care of the music, B Ashok, a former assistant of Ravi K Chandran, has been roped in for the cinematography, and Jaganathan Selvakumar is the editor.


Santhosh has witnessed first-hand the trauma of people whose lands are to be taken away by the Government. “These people’s lives are intertwined with their lands. To them, the land is God. They don’t even wear footwear while working on the fields. Taking away this, in the name of development, is like crushing their soul.”

“Man destroys everything in the name of development. A film such as Pather Panchali made decades ago is still relevant and will continue to be. Issues such as this are a natural progression of the age-old Man vs Nature battle. At some point, Nature has to win. Or else, it will spell doom for the human species,” says Santhosh.