Reporting by Niveda Manohar; Photos by Sriram Narasimhan. Photos from the audio launch are below the report.
Saahasam is a different movie for a number of reasons. First, it’s a comeback of sorts for actor Prashanth, who has been MIA for almost four years, His last release was Mambattiyan in 2011, and his last hit was, well, in 2003. Second, Saahasam is the remake of Allu Arjun’s 2012 highly-successful film Julayi. Third, the heroine of Saahasam, Amanda, is an Australian actress.
Now, I used to be a crazy Prashanth fan as a kid. The innocent and cherubic looking youngster who catapulted to fame with Shankar’s Jeans. It’s a film I’ve watched over a hundred times. As I entered Prasad Labs for the event, I’m welcomed by a traditional Nadaswaram troupe playing my favorite song from Jeans. Good move, I think to myself.
The event started off with the screening of the songs in the movie. Three of them were ‘Classic-Thaman’ songs with catchy beats and massy lyrics. Decibel levels of the crowd (filled with Prashanth fans) reached hysterical proportions when Prashanth began dancing with Nargis Fakhri to the ‘Desi Girl’ song. The songs were flashy, vibrant and of high production quality. Interestingly, most had a number of celeb-singers – Simbu, Lakshmi Menon and Anirudh (Oh thank God for Autotune!).
With Robo Shankar hosting the show, laughs were guaranteed. Sure enough, he made jokes at everybody’s expense – the celebrities as well as the audience every. So much so, that I began to feel bad for Prashanth. Especially after four guests spoke about having been in school when Prashanth made it to the big screen. In fact, Devadarshini, who Prashanth calls ‘Aunty’ in the film, was also in school when she first watched his film. Abi Saravanan, who has a supporting role in the film, claimed that he had watched Jeans 64 times in the theatre when it was released. (How?). He declared that Prashanth, just like his father Thyagarajan, has been blessed with looks that don’t deteriorate with age. Director Madhesh, who worked with Prashanth on Chocolate, was an associate director in Jeans. He said that back then, whenever directors used to discuss names of possible heroes with their assistants, every ‘probables-list’ had Prashanth’s name on it.
UTV Dhananjayan, who has been having some trouble with another Prashanth, had nothing but praise for the actor. Calling Prashanth an all-rounder, he said Prashanth could act, dance, and do stunts with ease. Cricket metaphors came to mind easily with music director Thaman, dressed for a cricket match. Thaman said that of all the movies he’s done, Saahasam had the best visuals for his songs. Other guests claimed that music and cricket make up Thaman’s life, and that he comes across tunes while playing cricket. That might explain the thumping beats.
And finally, when Prashanth came on stage, he was welcomed with hoots and cheers. The first thing he did was promise that his next event would be held at a bigger venue. (Did I mention how cramped the place was?) He began by thanking the guests for making him feel old, for highlighting so emphatically that they were in school when he became an actor. But, he pointed out that he had started very early. In fact, he was 17 when his first film Vaigaasi Porandhachu was released. He also said he hadn’t meant to take such a long break, but film production was a lengthy process. Lastly, he reassured his fans that hereafter, he would make films with more regularity.
The audio CDs were launched. Not in the boring cardboard CD model used at all audio functions, but on a golden plate. It was a literal Isai–Thattu Veliyeedu (Isaithattu is Tamil for CD, isai meaning music, and thattu meaning plate).