‘Asan’ Rajendran, who guided Varmakala i.e., fight scenes in the film, said.
In 1996, ‘Indian’ was directed by Shankar and starring Kamal Haasan, Manisha Koirala, Urmila and Nedumudi Venu. Kamal Haasan played dual roles as father and son. The hugely successful film also won a National Award for Kamal Haasan’s performance.
Kamal Haasan’s varmakalai fight scenes as Senapati as a freedom fighter were received from the big to the small. Asan Rajendran guided the use of Varmakalai, the traditional martial art of Tamil Nadu, in the film.
Rajendran shared his experience of creating scenes related to Varmakala along with the crew from Madurai in an interview with The Hindu English website.
Very few people at that time knew that there was such an art. Director Shankar received a letter from A.M. Ratnam’s Sri Surya Movies office saying he wanted to meet me. An assistant director of Shankar has read a book on Varmakala. I have written in Trichy.
I felt this was a great opportunity for me to take this art to a bigger plane. Immediately left for Madras with my box bed. In Shankar’s office, I placed an assistant director of his and showed him varmak art. I also gave him some books I had written. The field of the film was interesting. We thought of the scenes so that the old man did not need to hit hard because he had to fight. We chose Varmakala.
I met shankar’s team, writer Sujatha and others a few times in pre-production work.Kamal Haasan was very eager to know about the art on the sets. He followed what I said earnestly. A week after the release of the Indian film, an elderly man came to meet me. As he spoke, he began to look at him. He was awestruck by the varmakala i.e. we showed in the movie.