A dangerous game

Brothers Viknesh and Thanesh Perrabu’s fantasy thriller Paramapatham has grabbed some international awards

31 May 2020 / 16:19 H.

SHOT in the Tamil language, the Malaysian fantasy thriller, Paramapatham has travelled to more than ten international film festivals. It has earned itself several awards including Best Cinematography at the Norway Film Festival and Best Feature at the Tagore Film Festival (India), and earned the filmmakers the award for Best Producer at the Coimbatore Film Festival (India).

“Most Malaysian Tamil movies deal with themes of romance, comedy and gangsters,” says 30-year-old Viknesh Perrabu who co- directed the film with his brother Thanesh, 28.

“But we wanted to present something different. We want to give the Malaysian audience something they have not seen in Malaysian Tamil movie scenes before. You rarely find Tamil movies in Malaysia delving into fantasy thriller [territory].”

The story centres on archaeologist Aroon and his three friends who go on an adventure trip to a previously unexplored hill. They discover an abandoned 18th century British colonial house, and find an ancient board game with the word “Paramapatham” carved onto the wooden board.

Aroon realises the game originated from India. The friends then open the board game and start to play, but have to leave the game unfinished once it gets dark. Aroon then decides to bring the game back to his home.

Soon however, they discover that the game has taken control of their lives. They begin to face direct consequences as a result of the game.

Aside from directing, both brothers play key roles in the film. Thanesh stars as Aroon, while Viknesh plays the main villain who tries to stop the friends from completing the game.

“It is difficult to direct and act in the same film,” Viknesh says.

Viknesh both directs and stars in the fantasy thriller. – Courtesy of Viknesh Perrabu
Viknesh both directs and stars in the fantasy thriller. – Courtesy of Viknesh Perrabu

“When I am acting, my brother will direct me, and when my brother is acting, I will direct him. This method allows us to put our full attention to our [respective] performances. We do not want to compromise on our performance.”

This is the second feature film that Viknesh has directed. His first feature film was the 2014 horror-thriller Sathuriyan which dealt with Satanism.

However, this is the first time that Thanesh has stepped into the director’s shoes, as he is better known as an actor.

Shot last year with a budget of RM800,000, Paramapatham is likely to hit Malaysian cinemas at the end of this year.

The directors believe that one of the film’s selling points is its choice of locations. They chose to shoot the film in “unique and exotic” locations in Penang, Kedah, Kuala Lumpur and Thailand.

The movie has more than 20 minutes of CGI effects. The brothers even hired a special effects company from Kerala, India to help create the CGI for their movie.

“The company is well known and their quality of CGI is admirable,” says Viknesh.

“The company has done CGI for more than 500 Tamil films in India. Some well-known directors from the Indian film industry have used their services. I am pleased with what they have done with my movie.”

Thanesh Perrabu plays the lead role in Paramapatham. – Courtesy of Viknesh Perrabu
Thanesh Perrabu plays the lead role in Paramapatham. – Courtesy of Viknesh Perrabu

The idea for the film came about when the brothers read a book that their father brought back from India.

“I always thought the snake and ladders board game originated from England,” Viknesh says.

“From the book I learned that is not true. Apparently the game originated from India, and it has been around for many centuries. The game was brought back to England after the British conquered India.”

This historical fact sparked some ideas for a feature film.

“Our movie is not a history lesson,” he cautions. “We just mentioned [in the film] that the snake and ladders game originated from India. [The rest] of the film is filled with adventure.”

Going back to his own history, Viknesh indicates that he is a self- taught filmmaker.

“My father is a Tamil literature professor,” he says. “He wrote poems and scripts for low budget Tamil films in India. I love to read what he has written. He opened my heart to the world of arts.”

Viknesh himself also started writing poems and entering poetry competitions. Slowly he got involved in school plays, and later ventured into the world of theatre, beginning as an actor.

At the age of 21, he started working in the Malaysian film industry as an assistant film director. To date he has directed seven short films, one music video and one feature film. He adds that the next film he is going to direct is a comedy adventure for which he is drafting the script.

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