This year, the National Film Awards had a new category to honor the best stunt choreographer of the year and we don’t think the jury would have had a tough time to zero down on Peter Hein for Puli Murugan. From bringing in new elements in action sequences to working with the biggest directors and in the biggest films, Peter Hein has always made sure that the hero is not someone who just hits 25 guys out of the blue and walks in slow motion but someone who has his own ways and tactics in carrying out a fight. He is, surprisingly, an action director who wants to have some logic behind the fights and super heroism. Here we look at the amazing career of the Man and why would we love to call Peter Hein the best stunt choreographer of our times.
Peter Hein started working as an extra-fighter and then a stunt assistant to Kanal Kannan in many Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam movies. His sincerity and hard work paid off when Telugu filmmaker Vamsi Krishna offered him ‘Murari’ (2001). The debut was a well noticed one and films started flooding in for Peter Hein. Tamil film ‘Run’ (2002) marked a checkpoint in his career, the action sequences in the film were instant sensations. ‘Kaakha Kaakha’ (2003) saw some raw action probably for the first time in Tamil cinema, till then the action sequences in Cop movies were super heroic but ‘Kaakha Kaakha’ seemed natural. The first Filmfare award came his way in 2005 but more importantly, by now people started knowing his name for the jaw dropping action in Shankar’s psychological blockbuster ‘Anniyan’. In 2007, after working with all the upcoming (back then) stars, Peter Hein was called to choreograph action for none other than Superstar Rajinikanth in ‘Sivaji- The Boss’. He used the opportunity brilliantly that the entire audience as well as the people from the film industry started praising the stunts. ‘Ghajini’ Hindi (2008) was a milestone. ‘Magadheera’, ‘Ko’, ‘Badrinath’ and many other superhits followed up along with ‘Enthiran’ and it’s unforgettable robotic action. The biggest film ever made in Indian cinema, ‘Baahubali’ too came in the hands of Peter Hein but he had to invest 4 years of time, a lot of hard work and do a lot of research. The man went on board for the once in a lifetime opportunity, and today, when the whole nation is awaiting the second part, we cannot imagine the project without Peter Hein. Even while working in ‘Baahubali’, he didn’t choose to stay away from other films, he chose the right ones that would keep his standards as the country’s best stunt choreographer. Malayalam cinema’s pride ‘Puli Murugan’ had two heroes, Mohanlal in front of the camera and Peter Hein behind it!
From ‘Murari’ to ‘Baahubali: The Conclusion’, it is not just Peter Hein’s status that has grown but also the quality of his craft has increased. With each film he reinvents himself. Many of his films had special challenges like ‘Enthiran’ needed to have a robot fighting so the stunt master needs to think and find out how would a robot fight. In ‘Maattrraan’ the hero played a conjoined twins, two characters need to fight sticking together, which was amazingly choreographed. Or even in ‘Baahubali’ the war sequence should not remind the audience about any other war scene they have seen before in world cinema. The job of a stunt choreographer requires a lot of intelligence, he cannot repeat his moves, each character and the actor who is playing it will be different, the situations of the fights will vary, so the action director must be a person who can instantly come up with ideas. He must know what the director requires, what the hero will be able to do, what the audience will accept and is all this doing justice to the film. Also, many are unaware of the fact that a stunt master should know the placement and movements of the camera, what should be preserved and what should be omitted from what’s been shot, how would a sequence look on the editing table and then on the silver screen and many other small and big technical factors! When we look at Peter Hein’s filmography, we see he has taken up films that only he can do, they always have a variety and that shows how much he likes to challenge his own thinking capacity.
Peter Hein carries a down to earth persona. Let it be Mohanlal or Prabhas, Shankar or Rajamouli, everyone who has worked with him have only sweet things to say. Even while doing the rawest stunts, this man is perfectly dressed in his style. We see someone who loves cinema, respects his directors and actors and also is a team player. Probably that is the biggest success of Peter Hein. When he choreographed unique and attractive stunts for ‘Puli Murugan’, the youngest ones amongst us were the most fascinated ones, they wanted do those action scenes. The trailer of ‘Baahubali: The Conclusion’ is juicy enough for any action lover to impatiently wait for the film and nothing of this would have happened without Peter Hein. When Peter Hein is climbing the steps of success and being a part of bigger and bigger action films, we get hopes on competing with Hollywood level of action standards. After being the pivotal part of the most successful films of Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Hindi and the nation’s biggest blockbuster ‘Baahubali’, without a debate we can prove that Peter Hein is the best stunt choreographer of our times!
Hardcore Film Lover and Ardent Movie Goer, Aspiring Film Maker.