Last year, film-maker Santhosh Gopal, who is also movie ‘consultant’, made a film around the jallikattu protests titled Jallikattu (8-23). Even as the movie, which explores the politics behind the jallikattu ban through a fictional storyline, awaits release, he has started work on his next film based on the Salem-Chennai eight-lane greenfield project.
Speaking about his initial experience of documenting the protests on the ground — he first covered the agitations in Aroor, Tiruvannamalai, Salem and Dharmapuri — Mr. Gopal said: “It is difficult to predict where it [protest or the project] was going. I just took my camera and started shooting the government officials surveying the area for the project and placing the markers with the help of GPS. I also documented the people’s opposition to it, their reasons for doing so, the police trying to end the protests and so on. Slowly, I expanded the crew — I had a second unit following developments in other areas.”
The movie on the green corridor project would be similar in form to his earlier work on jallikattu: a fictional story would wrap the real-life protests, says the film-maker, who was previously running one of the most popular video stores in Chennai.
After 10 days of shooting the protests, he decided to make a film and name it Pasumai Vazhi Salai.
“The characters in the film are based on real people. Practical issues exist for the farmers. For instance, what happens to farmers locked in a dispute over land? It is complex and the film features one such dispute and real-footage will form a significant part of the film,” he says.