Recreating the world of Amazon Prime Video’s Sarpatta Parambarai through music, costumes and more

A Potpourri of Vestiges Feature

Sarpatta Parambarai, the magnum opus project of director Pa. Ranjith, which was recently released on Amazon Prime Video, took the audience and critics by storm with some riveting performances with its brilliantly written characters. However, the elements of the narrative weren’t woven in a day. Narrating their experiences from the film, sound designer Anthony Reuben, film editor Selva, and costume designer Aegan Ekambaram shed light on the process that went into the making of the Tamil period sports drama Sarpatta Parambarai.

Sounds and Snags

Working on his fourth film with Director Pa. Ranjith after Kabali and Kaala, Reuben recalls that Ranjith always trusts the process while providing room for experimentation. The challenge, however, was to address the representations of layered narrations in terms of concepts and emotions into sounds. The film, being a period sports drama, added to the need for the intensity in sound designs. From the sound of the gloves to the sound of the footwear, immense research went into what kind of sounds one would hear during that particular era. 

Behind the Recreations

The entire sound design was constructed by trailing the emotions of the film. Every dimensional aspect of the film was considered. Sharing anecdotes, Reuben also highlights that place exploration and imagination played a key role in recreating sounds from the past. He mentions a visual from the movie, set in North Madras, and how he relied only on his imagination to create sound effects to portray the scene as if it were happening nearby. In addition, he looks back into the time when actual boxers were called in, to record movements for even the smallest taps as foley artists could not match the strength or weight of the boxers. The boxing style of the main character would differ from his competitor, hence their foot movements, punches, landing punches would also differ. Hence, each and every sound, punch and breath was recorded and dubbed separately, over a period of four to five months. Even the unique slang used in the film was paid heed to, enhancing the flavour and quality of these special effects.

Time-travel with Technology

Experimenting with technology is not new for films. Sarpatta Parambarai also followed suit, except they went back in time. As mentioned, every single punch was recorded, but the challenge lay in matching the punch of the boxers. For this, technology from the 70s was brought in to play the part. This piece of technology had fight scenes programmed in keyboards where every key is assigned to a designated punch- a mild punch, a soft punch, a punch with grit, a hard punch, a face punch, and a kick punch. It was performed digitally and then coloured with layers of gloves, skin and much more. Once the punches were performed in real time and programmed to a single keyboard, it was polished. 

Costume Configuration

The film beholds costumes designs from the British era. Focusing on Chennai, Ekambaram states that the costumes were designed keeping in mind the people in those days, who travelled frequently. Therefore, the dresses were also based on the states they travelled to. Talking of prints and patterns, in accordance with the period, the costume consisted of printed designs along with using horizontal measures for the fabric style.

In terms of boxing, the real challenge was in making the shoes and gloves for Arya. Upon research, it was discovered that these accessories were handcrafted using genuine leather in earlier times. These artisans were searched for and the accessories were handcrafted by the same craftsmen who have continued the tradition till date. Nearly all of the garments were handwoven. Silk sarees, in particular, arrived from Kancheepuram. The designers spent days visiting old traditional textile showrooms to find classic sarees representing the immemorial Tamil culture.

The Final Cut

This is Selva’s first film with Ranjith as an editor. Like Reuben, Selva also deems Ranjith to be very detailed with his work, yet he offers the freedom to work flexibly. Commenting on the film, Selva states that all the emotional nuances were shot first, and then sequenced. The first complicated aspect were the montages, especially the ones with the training and Kabilan’s downfall. Editing the climax was another challenge, as it took 20 days to construct from scratch and the final trim took 40-45 days to complete, unlike a normal film which only takes 10-15 days. The final trim was then decided using a character skit.

Starring Arya, Pasupatthy, John Kokken, and Dushara, among others, Sarpatta Parambarai is premiering on Amazon Prime Video in Tamil and Telugu in more than 240 countries and territories.

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