While waiting for him at the site of the shoot, we hear almost every person sing praises of K Ganesh Kumar, one of South Indian films’ most popular action director. But, what meets the eye when Ganesh finally comes, is a simple, down-to-earth man.
In city as the action director for Vivicam Entertainment’s upcoming Punjabi film Yaaran Da Katchup, Ganesh, who hails from Chennai, helps us understand the filmmakers’ latest fascination for action and why stuntmen and directors don’t mind the risks involved in the profession — and, we manage just fine with a little Hindi, some English and ample gestures.
It is not for nothing that Ganesh is so renowned in his field of specialisation, having been a part of the South Indian films’ action industry for 19 years now. “From 1994 to 2006, I was a stuntman, after which I became an action director. Action is in my blood, since my father and grandfather were also stuntmen. Be it Telugu, Tamil or Kannada films, I have directed action sequences, performed stunts and even acted as the body double of many leading stars of the South,” says Ganesh, who also directed the action sequences for Tamil film Siruthai, whose Hindi remake was the Akshay Kumar-starrer Rowdy Rathore.
Now that he is back in Punjab — he was last here for the film Jatt Boys Putt Jattan De — we ask him if he finds working here very different. “Here, the shooting schedule of a film is 40 days, while in the South, the action sequences take up 40 days and the entire shoot takes about 100 days. Telugu films demand dramatic action and Tamil films aim for realistic action. Here in Punjab, I’m bringing a blend of the two styles, keeping the aura and macho image of Punjabis in mind,” Ganesh tells us.
It wouldn’t be incorrect to presume that action in films is set to become more popular. Ganesh says the budget allocation to action in his current project is almost Rs. 20-25 lakh. “When it comes to action, a film’s budget increases because of the equipment used for performing action sequences, such as double cameras, jimmy jib and cranes,” he adds.
Ganesh already has another Punjabi film project — Diljit Dosanjh’s ambitious film Mukhtiar Chadha. “In Punjab films, I have tried to bring different action styles such as the Jackie Chan style of fighting, which is a bit comic. Though the action industry is comparatively new in Punjab, I see it growing and fully established in the next one year,” says the father of two daughters, whom he teaches stunts to help them learn self-defense.
When we ask Ganesh if the world of action offers lucrative gains in return for the risks involved, he says, “There’s a lot of adventure involved in doing stunts. If one is jumping from a height, no amount of money can match the risk and passion that goes into it. When any stuntman leaves his home to perform a stunt, he completely forgets his family and if he would ever return.”
It is perhaps this streak of adventure that keeps Ganesh and other stunt-lovers glued to their jobs.