From spoof videos to Cannes screening

Siddharth Dhananjay grew up listening to his mother Kamali teaching music to the children in their expat colony in Indonesia. And for a time he wanted to be a music director. But little did he realise that his spoof music videos would land him a role in Hollywood as an actor.

“The director — Geremy Jasper — saw one of my videos online and contacted me, asking me for audition. Things worked out from there,” said 21-year-old Siddharth who plays the friend and fan of aspiring rapper Patti (Danielle Macdonald) in the film Patti Cake$.

The film will be among 19 feature films at the 49th edition of the Directors’ Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival and will be screened on May 27.

Born in Thiruvananthapuram, Siddharth moved to Indonesia when his father Sundararajan joined PT South Pacific Viscose. After completing his fifth grade, Siddharth moved back to India to study at the Rishi Valley School in Andhra Pradesh. He then went on to graduate in Economics from Grinnell College in Iowa.

“We never knew that he was interested in music and acting. He was a brilliant student and thought he would pursue a career academically. But we are all excited about his new career,” said Venkatachalam, Siddharth’s grandfather.

The young actor’s granduncle incidentally is the Tamil writer, Krishnan Nambi.

Not a rapper

Though his parody rap videos posted in WordstarHipHop drew the attention of Mr. Jasper, Siddarath said he would not call himself a rapper.

“The videos me and my friends make are entertaining, spoof music videos. Nevertheless, I was very drawn to music growing up. I still remember a little bit of sarali varisai,” he told The Hindu in an email interview, recalling his mother’s music classes.

Siddharth said after Patti Cake$, his focus has been to get a visa which would allow him to work as an actor in the U.S.

‘Incredible experience’

Asked about his priority — a career in film or music — he said Patti Cake$ had been an incredible experience.

“I learned a lot working with such a talented team and grew exponentially as an actor. I definitely hope to work on music in the future but I would definitely consider myself an actor first and foremost,” he said.

“My whole family has been extremely excited about this whole experience and cannot wait to see what I do next,” he signed off.

Packed houses to welcome Baahubali 2 today

“Why Kattappa killed Baahubali” seems to be on the minds of most movie buffs in the city as Baahubali 2: The Conclusion hits the screens across Tamil Nadu on Friday.

While the Tamil version of the movie has a bigger release in the State, the Telugu version of the multilingual is also being simultaneously released with fewer shows.

Shows sold out

As many as 69 shows have been allotted for the movie across five multiplexes in SPI Cinemas across the city, and most of the evening shows were sold out completely a few hours after bookings opened.

Most other smaller theatres have allotted four to five shows for the first week and a representative from a movie hall said that they were expecting packed shows as there were no other major Tamil release for the next two weeks.

The first part, Baahubali: The beginning, was released in July 2015 in Tamil and Telugu.

At a time when the Tamil Film Producers Council has been coming down heavily on online piracy, the makers of the movie — Arka Mediaworks — posted a message on their Twitter account on Thursday asking people to send in links of websites hosting illegal prints of the movie.

Directed by S.S. Rajamouli, Baahubali 2 has an ensemble cast of Prabhas, Rana Daggubati, Sathyaraj, Tamannaah, Anushka and Nasser.

The Tamil version of the movie, which has generated considerable hype, was also promoted in a large way in Chennai with the cast and crew participating in a grand audio launch function earlier this month in the city.

On the art and science of filmmaking

Actors Kamal Haasan and Rajinikanth graced the inauguration of the Bharathi Raja International Institute of Cinema here on Friday.

Speaking at the function, Mr. Rajinikanth said, “Though I learnt my craft working on the sets from K. Balachander, I know the importance of studying in a film school because I studied in one.”

Like-minded people

He added that it was important for filmmakers, actors and technicians to meet like-minded people. “It is important to make contacts in the film industry. A film school such as this helps in that. One can understand the passion with which he has created this initiative,” he said.

Speaking at the function, Mr. Kamal Haasan said, “It is an important function. He has seen three generations. I will not agree that he was from a village, suggesting that he didn’t know films when he started making them. He learnt his craft slowly and steadily. I hope people who study here make it big.”

Filmmaker Bharathi Raja said he was happy that three generations of film personalities had responded to his invitation.

“I thought that I should open a film institute in Madurai, cultivate youth there without fees seven years ago. Though I don’t know how it is going to turn out, I am sure that the students can learn something from my experiences,” said Mr. Bharathi Raja.

Disclosing that he had never learnt cinema formally, he said, “I didn’t know what a close-up was, I just felt it,” he said.

The Hindu photographers assaulted by Shankar’s ‘2.0’ crew

Two photojournalists working with The Hindu were attacked by unit members of ”Enthiran 2.0”, directed by Shankar and starring Rajinikanth, at Triplicane in Chennai on Wednesday.

The photographers were assaulted when they questioned the unauthorised blocking of roads for the shooting on a street.

In the morning, when senior photographer S.R. Ragunathan and G. Sribharath of The Hindu were leaving Eswara Dass Street in Triplicane to R.K. Nagar on assignment, they questioned the film unit as to why they were shooting on the street at that time as the police permit film shooting in public places only between 11.p.m and 6.a.m.

Infuriated over their questioning, bouncers attached with the film unit attacked them.

Following a complaint lodged by Mr. Raghunathan, the Ice House Police registered a case and detained a few persons in connection with the incident.

Immediately after the incident, journalists assembled before the police station demanding action.

Later, director Shankar apologised to journalists for the incident. “This incident happened without my knowledge. We will ensure that such incidents do not recur again”, he assured journalists at the Chennai Press Club.