“The hard work put in by the team is evident onscreen,” Suriya wrote in his tweet.
Sarpatta Parambarai revolves around the boxing culture in North Chennai during the 1970-80s. It focuses on the rival boxing clans, Sarpatta and Idiyappa, who are constantly locking horns in a duel for the pride of their respective clans.
During a virtual press conference held for the trailer launch on Tuesday, Pa Ranjith revealed that he wrote this film after his directorial debut Attakathi (2012) and had planned to make it then but was unable to. However, after Kaala (2018), he was very clear that he would meet the audience with nothing but Sarpatta Parambarai, the director added.
Speaking about the film’s inception, Ranjith said, “When I was researching for my film Madras (2014) in North Chennai, I came to know that two of the main sports played there were football and boxing. I found out that boxing culture existed in the area even during the pre-Independence era and this made me want to make a film about it. North Chennai is often stereotyped in Tamil cinema. I wanted to erase that and provide a new narrative. That’s the primary reason for making this film.”
The filmmaker added that though the sport existed in the region before the 70s and 80s, he set Sarpatta Parambarai in that specific time period because he found it interesting in terms of dress, language, and landscape.
Ranjith also revealed that he has shot Sarpatta Parambarai in a particular aspect ratio to better evoke the period. “I did this instead of going out of my way to include objects of that time period in the film. The look of the film as well as the characters and events referenced will evoke the 70s and 80s,” he said, adding that he studied the political events of the time and the boxing scenario as part of his research.
Ranjith said that through his research, he found that the Sarpatta Parambarai clan was primarily comprised of Dalits, fishermen community, and working-class people, and hence chose to go with it for the title.
In the film, John Kokken plays the role of Vembuli, star boxer of Idiyappa clan, while Arya plays Kabilan of Sarpatta. Speaking at the press conference, the actors called Ranjith a perfectionist. They also revealed that every punch they threw for the film had 100% contact. “I am not used to punching any hero,” said John. “For a villain, touching the hero spells the end of his career. So, to make myself hit the hero was a challenge. But eventually, we got to the point where we’d hit each other right on the first take. If we missed, Ranjith would not okay the take.”
“After each shot, we would have a sorry session for punching each other,” added Arya.
“We had a workshop for 45 days and boxing sessions to train us to be real boxers, instead of faking it. We also had theoretical sessions where members of the Parambarai would share their experiences. It was a life journey for all of us,” said Arya, adding that the experience made him feel as if they were professional boxers like Mohammad Ali and Mike Tyson.
Speaking about the film’s female characters, Ranjith said the role of Bakkiyam (Anupama Kumar) is inspired by his mother, while Mariamma (Dushara) is based on the women he grew up around. “To portray progressive women, there is no need to go out of the way to show them as powerful. The women I see around my home, they show courage and strength casually, with a touch of feminism. So it’s easy for me to model my characters on them.”