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A new film ‘Podanur Thabaal Nilayam’ turns the spotlight on Podanur Post Office, the oldest and the first post office in Coimbatore


A suspense thriller, the film records three days in the lives of people who work in a post office

A suspense thriller, the film records three days in the lives of people who work in a post office

“It’s all about ₹7,40,000 and some change…” says Praveen Venkatraman, speaking about his film Podanur Thabaal Nilayam, a suspense thriller that drops on Aha Tamil OTT on May 27. The film, a throwback to the 1990s, also turns the spotlight on Podanur Post Office, the oldest and the first post office in Coimbatore, that has been functioning since 1886.

Located next to the Podanur railway station, it catered to the requirements of British officials, railway staff and Anglo-Indians settled in Podanur. While some of the old documents, and vintage equipment like stamping devices, and a telegraph device with a golden handle have been shifted to museums across the country, the post office is still functioning from the same place catering to hundreds of people every day, offering a range of services.

Working stills from the movie
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

As Praveen’s father served as a postal assistant there, he grew up listening to post-office stories. “We assume the post office is a dull place. But, for me, it throbs with drama. This forms the central thread of the film’s narrative, a suspense thriller. I remember frequenting the place during my school days. The post office also served as a locker in the 1990s and handled huge amounts of cash,” explains Praveen.

The film records three days in the lives of people who work in a post office, with ordinary day-to-day affairs contributing to the narrative. Praveen, who has directed, edited, and acted as the lead in the film, says as an independent film maker, he had to work with minimal means. He roped in newcomers and a chunk of theatre artistes from the region to act in the film.

Praveen and his 10-member crew transformed a 125-year-old building in the Town Hall area into a post office. From the postmaster’s room with its old-fashioned switches and musty stacks of files to the recreation room where the employees watch television and play carom, he looked into every minute detail to make the set look authentic. “While most parts of the movie were shot on erected shots, we also filmed at some of the oldest buildings and homes that grace the streets of Coimbatore. Every building that appears in the film is over 100 years.”

A still from the film

A still from the film
| Photo Credit: SUKUMARAN SUNDAR

Praveen aspired to be an actor, studied animation, and worked as a VFX and 3D animator at post-production studios in Mumbai. “Besides Hollywood films, I also worked as technical director in Kochadaiiyaan.” But still, when it came to directing a film of his own, he faced several hurdles. Fashion Film Factory bought the film to get it released. “It has been the greatest learning,” he says.

What next? “I want to make films that entertain but also set a new benchmark, may be something like Mandela.”



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