Director Vijay Sri G will be making his debut with Dha Dha 87, an action romedy starring Charuhasan in the lead. The film, which has been in the making for over 1.5 years, also stars 80-year-old Saroja, actor Keerthy Suresh’s grandmother, who is making her debut in this film along with actors Anand Kumar and Sri Pallavi.
The film’s trailer shows Charuhasan as the ageing don Sathya, a ruthless killer, worse than Yama, the god of death. Upon a closer look, you notice the metal bracelet on his arm and a black thread around his neck, a distinct style from Kamal Haasan’s 1988 social drama Sathya. The film’s leads are also named Sathya and Geetha.
So, is Charuhasan’s character a continuation of Kamal’s Sathya as reports suggest? The director is mildly amused when asked. “Is that what they’re saying?” he retorts.
“You’ll have to wait and watch for that on the 1st. In fact, in the film’s posters, we’ve put ‘I am not Sathya’ as the tag line. But a lot of them did call me saying Charuhasan’s expressions reminded them of Kamal Haasan. I won’t reveal more on this yet. We’ve done something interesting,” he says, sounding both hopeful and excited over the phone.
Vijay Sri is quite confident that Dha Dha 87 will be received well for looking at a little-explored angle in romance, something Tamil cinema has not seen much.
“We’ve seen young love, young dons but not love between older people. In Dha Dha 87, the male lead is 87 years old and the female lead is 80 years old. In fact, I think Charuhasan sir is the oldest star in the world to be doing a main lead in a film. We’ve also applied for a National Award for this film,” says Vijay Sri.
He also tells us that Charuhasan was the only actor who fit his requirements.
“He’s the only actor in this age group. The story also needed someone who could carry off being a don. I loved his performance in Thalapathy. The way he stood up to Mammootty’s character showed he had ‘gethu’. A person who stands up to a veeran (brave person) is a maveeran (great hero),” explains the director.
Yet, Vijay Sri had to persuade Charuhasan to do the role.
“He wasn’t sure. ‘Naan dhadha illa pa, thatha’ (I’m not a don, I’m a grandfather) he told me. His health too was not very good at that point. He had undergone two bypass surgeries and wasn’t able to walk,” he shares.
It was Charuhasan’s love for cinema that got them through, he says.
“We filmed slowly, about two hours a day, and given his age and health conditions, that was the best way ahead. I should also thank Suhaasini Ma’am for her support,” says the director.
While this is an action flick, and given the lead is a don, how did the team film stunt sequences?
“We relied on his expressions. He was able to pull off such bold sequences just with his eyes. It is also unfortunate that they’ve always typecast him as the Brahmin or the advocate. We wanted to make him play the don,” Vijay says.
However, if he had to choose someone else, it would’ve been late actor Raghuvaran, admits the director. “I would’ve surely done this film with him. He was a phenomenal actor. What are heroes if not for villains?” he asks.
The film also has another important actor who will be seen on screen after a long time. An actor whom Vijay Sri had to wait for patiently for about 3 months to get him to agree.
“I had decided to cast Janagaraj sir in this role. He plays an ex-military man and his character is quite serious. In fact, he worked on Prem Kumar’s 96 while he was shooting for us. He too has health problems and we know he wouldn’t sign up films. But we also know he has a great fan following. Many gathered at the shooting spot just to see him. This film will not disappoint his fans," he promises.
The film also has another interesting introduction, that of Janagaraj’s son Naveen. “He’s completely unrelated to the field. He’s a Japanese language instructor in an IT company, and it was I who suggested he plays the role. He does comedy in this film,” he adds.
On Monday, a sneak-peek from the film was released, a first-night scene starring Charuhasan and Saroja, complete with the ‘Inji idupazhaga’ soundtrack. The scene is an adorable sequence where the two share a brief romantic moment.
The director is all praise for Saroja’s acting, given that this will be her first film.
“You must’ve seen her cuteness in the video. Even though she’s 80, she was very energetic throughout the film. I’m sure their romance will be liked by the audience. She plays a very bold and cute character in the film,” he tells us.
The director also adds that when this particular scene was filmed, actor Keerthy had visited the sets to see her grandmother act. “She has been referring to it in all her interviews, saying her granddaughter had come for her first night,” he laughs.
In parallel, the film also follows a romance angle between two young actors - Sri Pallavi and Anand Pandi - and the director is positive that the actor Sri Pallavi’s role in it will be widely appreciated. “She has put in equal efforts to match up to Charuhasan. No other actor agreed to do such a role and I’m sure she’ll find appreciation for all her efforts,” he finishes.
Dha Dha 87 will hit the screens on March 1 alongside Oviya’s 90ml, Cheran’s Thirumanam and Arun Vijay’s Thadam.