• Tina Nandi

#SSSMovie Interview: Sathish Shanmugam!


Domestic Interview with Sathish Shanmugam!

Logistics of Interview – Robert Stephens, Sathish Shanmugam, and Tina Nandi in Bengaluru, India (3.30 pm IST)

Medium of Domestic Communication: English Language Conversation

RS: Greetings Sathish!

SS: Hi Robert!

RS:  I would like to begin by……(early interruption by Sathish)

SS:  I want this to go on record: I AM A 12th STANDARD GRADUATE ONLY!

RS:  (after recovering from slight shock)  Oh my, OK. So you do not have the college degree?

SS: NOPE!  And on my wedding invitation one day, it is going to say “12th Standard Graduate ONLY”

RS:  Then that means Wilbur Sargunaraj’s song “Simple Superstar” is basically your personal theme song?

SS:  Absolutely.  That is ME, and I am PROUD of it.

RS: Very interesting.   So enlighten us sir…how did you end up in the movie cast?

SS:  It is quite simple actually.  Zaid Khan, a friend of mine, shared about the movie, and explained that there was one role left.  It sounded interesting, so I decided to give it a shot and audition. 

RS:  And clearly it worked out…. which character do you play?

SS:  I’m a successful businessman…you can see me in the trailer at minute 1.05.


RS: What!?!? That is YOU?!?! No way! You look so different in real life!!!1

SS: Yes, that is me!  When I first told my Mom about the role, she laughed at me, because it is very much opposite my natural character and personality!

RS:  Hahahaha!

SS:  BUT, I had the chance to play many other roles in the movie, all of which were unscripted….


RS: Such as…..?

SS:  To begin with, I was the Eastern Latrine Door Technician, a role which I obtained on the basis of pure skill, as nobody else could do what I did.

RS: Excuse me?

SS:  This is a top secret role, and everyone will just have to wait and see the movie to understand how the Eastern Latrine Door makes a cameo.

RS:  Ok then….(nervous look toward Tina Nandi)….other roles?

SS:  Then I was the Children’s Dance Choreographer for “Annie Rose.”

RS:  You mean, the first official Simple Superstar teaser, the Annie Rose music video?

SS:  The one and only, yes sir.  Then, I was Ben’s Assistant Cameraman, the Sound Assistant, and Assistant Set Coordinator in Chennai.

RS:  Wow.  Those are a lot of roles, six to be precise.  Was your involvement originally planned to be so extensive?

SS:  No way!  Actually, my “role” as a successful businessman was originally slated to be a two day shoot. 

RS: How and why did things change?

SS:  As everyone started working together, something very special happened.  We became like a close knit family.  Ordinary events like having dinner became highlights of the day.

RS: Can you explain that a bit more?

SS:  I’ll explain it this way…..When I am invited over to someone’s house, I’m the type of guy that will sit quietly, not talk much, etc.  But when I was at Wilbur’s House, with his parents and family, everything was totally different.  In fact, I have NEVER had so many people being sincerely and simultaneously nice to me in my life!


RS: Hahaha! That is GREAT!

SS:  And I want this to go on record “WILBUR’S MOM MAKES THE BEST PEANUT BUTTER IN THE WORLD!”

RS: Peanut Butter!?!?

SS:  Yes!  I would have a Peanut Butter and Jelly (PBJ) sandwich for dinner, for lunch, and sometimes, even for breakfast.  I was totally High on food!  In fact, by the end of our time together, Wilbur’s Mom used to call me “Peanut Butter Kutti.”


RS:  Ummm….Peanut Butter Kutti? What does “kutti” mean?

SS:  Something along the lines of “Dear”

RS:  Hahaha! Lovely.  Any stories from the shoot you would like to share?

SS:  I must say, Ben Stamper is Crazy.  In a great way.

RS:  Yes, that is a well documented fact.  But for the records sake, can you explain a bit?

SS:  One day, we were shooting in a coconut tree grove.  After preparing for the shoot, all was ready to go, but we could not find Ben….

RS: Then….?

SS:  Out of nowhere we hear “Are you ready?”  I look around, down, to the side, but still no success.  Then, I look up, and he is hanging from the top of a coconut tree, ready to shoot.  How he got up there I have no idea!

RS: Yep!  That sounds like a Ben story!

SS:  Gosh, we had so much fun shooting this film.  When our month together came to a close, we were rather sad.  We knew that this experience would never happen again, and that made it all the more special.


RS:  Well, Mr. Sathish Shanmugam, our Peanut Butter Kutti / Eastern Latrine Door Technician / Sound Assistant / Assistant Cameraman / ‘Annie Rose’ Choreographer / Assistant Set Coordinator, we thank you for your time.  More importantly, we thank you for the expanse of your heart.  Thank you for turning a two day role into a month long commitment.  Thank you for being a living example of the fact that true success in life, the kind that is focused on encouraging and being in community with others, has nothing to do with a college degree.  We thank you. We salute you. 

SS: (Salutes and smiles wide)  

Location: Commercial Street, Bangalore

Interviewer: Robert Stephens

Model/Interviewee: Sathish Shanmugam

Photographer: Tina Nandi

Note from the Photographer: While we were out on the busy streets of Commercial Street taking the photographs for this interview, two curious gentlemen came and asked us what we were doing. They turned out also to be Wilbur fans. A perfect example of how wide the Wilbur World Wide Community is and the power it has to bring strangers together!


Please do check out all the other interviews of the wide variety of contributors to Wilbur’s upcoming film. 

Interview with Ms. Jen Neecia

Interview with Naveen Richard

Video Interview with Madam Priya

Interview with DJ Sodhivine

Interview with DJ Deli

Interview with Colonel Prasad and Vaishnavi Madam

Interview with Mr. Ken

And plenty more musings on Robert Stephen’s Blog.

Tina Nandi Photography | ©2019 Priyanka (Tina) Nandi