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Exclusive: Sillu karupatti Director Halitha Shameen Reveals About Her Journey into Cinema!

Lights, Camera, Talent!

From cinematography and editing to costume designing and direction, her talents only continue to grow. Halitha Shameem who made it look easy, reveals to JFW, the actual grind behind it all. 

Born to supportive parents, Halitha’s career was an open road from the jump. She began learning and understanding about direction from the age of 16, worked as an assistant director under several magnificent directors and today, stands tall with her own style well developed. After Sillu Karupatti, Halitha is ready to treat her audience with some of her finest works yet. 

Picking up the pen

With 2 working parents, Halitha found a lot of time to write and soon realized her love for composing poetry. “I think poetry provided me with a lot of strength. Writing always does that to you, right? I was in boarding school, mostly a loner and I would utilize my time to write. My thoughts have been my only companion,” quips Halitha. 

She says that this time that she had for herself made her creatively strong, which has helped her in her journey as a director. “I was well aware of my thoughts and I would use this awareness to my advantage. I remember my first poetry; it was about a tongue. Eventually my teachers started noticing my writing capacity in Tamil. I studied in a school dominated by Malayalam and my principal, would take my help to write down his speech in Tamil despite having Tamil teachers in school. I was looked at like a celebrity,” says Halitha smirking. 

This made Halitha decide her next stop – Chennai.

Crossroads and choices

Halitha came to Chennai to pursue her dream as a filmmaker after all the encouragement she received. “The time I reached Chennai was the time when huge radio channels like Radio Mirchi, Suryan FM were all setting up. So, I would request the radio jockeys to permit me to write content for them. These RJs would in return encourage me to do better and do more,” she reveals. 

Halitha’s parents, however, wanted her to earn a mainstream degree to secure her future if her writing dreams were to fail. However, Halitha was bent on pursuing a degree that would help her career, so she completed her Bachelor’s degree in Visual Communication. “I I simultaneously tried joining as an Assistant Director. I would call up various production houses and directors’ offices in the hope of getting hold of an opportunity. Many would insist on me acting but direction was my sole passion,” says Halitha. 

The AD experiences.

Halitha joined director/actor Samudhirakani’s team as an assistant director. “I knew he would not take me in as an assistant director. So I informed them I was a lyricist and became a part of the team. When I was given an opportunity to read out my so-called lyrics to him, he had a very straight face and absolutely no reaction to it. He was too sweet to say anything to discourage a young girl but I sensed that and finally broke open the truth to him, that I wanted to join his team as an assistant director,” Halitha recalls. 

The major league directors whom she approached suggested alternate career options for her within the film industry. “I was very young and fragile. So, on a set if a director was shouting and swearing, I would just flee the sets. All that came to a standstill when I joined as an assistant director under the director duo Pushkar and Gayathri for the film Oramm Po. They would involve me in some serious discussions, take in my suggestions and made me feel like an integral part of the team,” says a grateful Halitha. 

Eventually she assisted Samudhirakani in the film Nadodigal and director Mysskin for the film Nandalala. “They are all directors with different schools of thought and each of them taught me something very valuable,” says Halitha. Mirchi Siva’s Va Quarter Cutting was the last film Halitha worked on as an Associate Director. 

Captain of her own ship

After taking up complete charge as an Associate, Halitha was confident to now become an independent director. Poovarasam Peepee was her first film but it took her sometime to understand her audience and her first film did not perform well. “It unfortunately did not receive the mileage it should have. But the young talent from that film deserved another chance, given their performance. That is when I decided that once they turned young teens, I would do the film Minmini with them,” admits Halitha. 

Picking up momentum

“My idea of Sillu Karupatti was to not romanticize anything that usually is. I wanted to showcase love as blooming in normal places like a doctor’s house or a park, someplace which doesn’t seem outlandish,” says Halitha. 

Meanwhile, cinematographer Abhinandan and actor Siddharth persuaded her to write a story and Halitha had decided to come up with just one episode back then which was The Turtles starring Leela Samson. Halitha says, “They, however, felt that the intensity was very strong. That is when I decided that maybe I should channel this intensity into a commercial film for my audience. Initially I had written only two episodes, this and The Pink Bag. Eventually it developed to two more.”

A big banner

Sillu Karuppati was produced by 2D Production which is the home banner of superstars Suriya and Jyothika, a power couple the south loves. 

Jyothika had talked about how she truly loved and believed in Sillu Karupatti at the JFW Movie Awards and Halitha says there’s more to it: “Apparently, they loved the film and had said so to my team, but I wanted to personally hear from them. I was busy shooting Aeley when the screening happened so I was unaware of their reaction.”

She continues, “Finally Jyothika ma’am spoke to me and told me she enjoyed the depth of these love stories. At the 50th day success party, I met Suriya sir and realized that he too was a huge fan of the film. He had also been keeping up with my Aeley-related progress! I was humbled, to say the least.”

Coming soon…

Halitha has some brilliant projects lined up for her. Her next film Aeley will have a theatrical release. Further, her film Minmini has 20 days of shoot left but she has an ongoing OTT project she wishes to finish before she resumes the shoot of Minmini. 

 

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