Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Payanathin mudivil - the making - part one

Standing in the road and talking with my friends, about how our short film would fare when published, we were wondering how many hits/views of our short film would be considered a good target.The concensus was that maybe 700 would be a good- challenging target (for a first short). After a month of release, the comments and feed back have been overwhelmingly positive. People have been appreciating finer aspects of the film that we had never anticipated. Nevertheless, should take into account that people who gave the feedback would be less critical since it is a maiden attempt.

At this point of time, I would like to thank Siva, Arun, Anand S, Anand B and Arief again for their help in making this short film possible. Without their interest and participation in the clueless making, this wouldn't be possible today.

Something that just started as a whiling away the time during the train journey, has finally become this. I was thinking of writing about the beginnings of how this all came through. So here it goes.

Before making this, I had made two-three attempts at shooting a short with friends which didn't complete due to a variety of reasons varying from overly ambitious expectations to pathetic making. Often times, the interest that you have while starting somethings decomposes so fast, as things don't translate as imagined in your mind. For the same reason, dropped a few projects before completion.

When asked by an interviewer recently about my strong point, I replied, that I thoroughly analyze all possible options before venturing into something. She then asked what my weak point is. I replied to her, that I tend to overdo my strong point. That I over analyze and over complicate options and hence take too much of a time to decide on things. The main intention was to give a diplomatic reply, but my answer made me think.

"You are perfect DSS, you know" told a friend of mine, when we were chatting in the pantry.
"A what??" said me.
"A DSS- a decision support system."
"......." blank expression from me.
"you give the inputs to it, it analyses everything and provides all possible information to you. But it can not decide the way to proceed".
It was very true.

After a long time, encouraged by my good friend Lokesh to make a short in time to submit for a particular competition, I decided to complete one however bad it turns out.I completed it and published it only to those involved in it, to a lukewarm response. But to me completing it was a personal goal achieved.

Sometime later, when I joined facebook, I saw a video uploaded by Sivaram, that he had made on his cell phone cam. Shot very simply, but edited and mixed with the theme of Cinema Paradiso, it was a nice effort. After seeing that I hesitantly showed him the silent short that I had made. And after mutual confessions of interests in film making, we planned to shoot something.
Then came the trip. We decided to shoot something and release it however bad it be. So we decided on two stories. I chose a story that I had written in my blog long back.In search of the absurd man. Siva chose a Jeffery Archer story. Everyone was game. And we started shooting.
I had planned to make the narration as voice over, as it facilitated me for two reasons. I can shoot anything and put the voice over narration. Moreover the dialogues were not ready. So I would shoot some sequences; write the dialogs later and edit it accordingly. So it was mostly like.

Me: 'Go there, stand over there and give a blank look'
Siva: 'hmmm.. k'
Me:'Turn to your left and look above with a confused look'
Siva: Dai ennaya vachu edhuvum comedy keemedy pannalayae'

Thanks to Arun's eye for visuals, we shot some good sequences, that I later used for voice over narration. We shot footage of Siva, standing and brooding over things. We finally shot the sequence with Arun playing CK in a hotel in Mangalore. I had initially planned not to shoot it and tell the story without actually showing the writer. But due to Arun's persistent warning that it would be difficult to convey without scenes of CK, I shot it. And thanks to the early morning sun shining from our windows, got some nice visuals.

And satisfied with the footage shot, returned home. And now came the bigger challenge. To tell the story with the available footage in a coherent manner with an intact emotional core. The dialog for the voice over, the editing and the other post production stuff. The most difficult part was the dialogs themselves. I have an inclination to delve in philosophical ramblings when I start narrating, which is not because of choice, but I have a hard time doing otherwise. To me that forms the emotional core for a movie. Even the message(if i can say so) of the short, was something from my immediate experience. So the final version of the script that became the short, was stripped down from my confounding philosophical statements to simple things that everyone could associate.More on that in part two. :)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

the countdown finishes

This is just update on my previous post. The goal is exactly on track. I will be in chennai from now on(from aug 6th)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Boys from Brazil

This is a movie directed by Franklin J.Schaffner and came out in 1978. Based on a book of the same name by Ira Levin. It is the story about an Ex-Nazi Hunter who learns about a sinister plan to start the fourth Reich. This plan is conceived by Joseph Mengele, the chief doctor of the Nazi concentration camp Aushwitz. His plan is to kill 94 civil servants of age around 65 in the next two and half years. See the movie to know more.
This is an old school thriller were the thrill is mostly in the atmosphere and not in the visuals. Movies nowadays aim for it cheaply by retreating more to visual gore and cheap thrills. But this one is a very good example of atmospheric thriller. There is hardly much going on visually other than guys talking for the most time, but for the climax(a very interesting climax).
I watched this movie mainly for the wonderful star cast, and the academy award nominated performance of Laurence Olivier. The acting is pure delight. Gregory Peck as the psychotic Joseph Mengele gives the creeps. Life long he played all good characters and this is one movie through which he balances all that. Laurence Olivier plays the austrian Ezra Lieberman, the Nazi Hunter, uncovering the plot. It is another one of his brilliant performances(not close to SLEUTH though). James Mason comes in a small role as the security officer for the operation.
The book would have made a real good thrilling read. For the movie, watch it mainly for the brilliant performances. Rating – 8/10

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The scented trail

Happily surviving encamped, in the cosy comforts,
Good food to eat, even better to ponder upon,
A shelter that sways not, not in a downpour,
Not in a heavy wind, persistently insisting me,
Not to leave, assuring me that I am safe within.

The woods outside, deep and dark, damp and bleak,
The moonlit stream, sparkling, cool and clear,
The mind vividly contemplating, those not seen and felt
Mildly seeking an escape from the familiar refuge.

A faint laugh, from outside; a figure shrouded in mystery,
Standing by the door, she walks towards me, her gait graceful,
Her smile enigmatic, her lips full and moist, her looks mischievous
And her glances beckoning, she nears me, caresses me kindly,
Whispers in my ears,'Do u realise that I have been waiting for you?'

A stare, obscure and penetrating, disturbs you more, I can vouch,
Swiftly she glides to the door, only to turn back and
Tempt me even more, the dusky light fills in as she moves out,
The misty forest, the scented trail and the full moon,
Sprawling Vividly as imagined, I move forward.

Running behind the ever so elusive, smitten by her charms
Her pace, fast enough to let me follow her flowery trails,
I come to a stand still, there she stands, by the moonlit stream,
The rustling water, the thumping heart, a thousand screams inside

'Did you come for me?', coyly she asks, with eyes sparkling
'Oh fair maiden, oh sweet thing of beauty, who might you be?'
The water still, the wind stiller, a thousand screams inside
She leans across, holds me near, a dulcet voice in my ear,
With a mystic smile, she says 'I, my dear, am your unwritten life'.

This is my maiden venture in poetry. By the time I completed writing this, I decided that I should not be attempting this any more :) Unless I come across another movie like 'The Brothers Bloom' by Rian Johnson and get inspired by it :)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Iranian Cinema is one area where I have swam less compared to other world cinema streams. Recently I happened to watch BARAN by Majid Majidi. I found it very endearing.

It is the story of a construction worker in Iran, Lateef. He is not much of an active worker there, but just helps the workers around there. He is short tempered and cheeky. There are lots of Afghans immigrants working in the construction site illegally. One day, one of the Afghan worker falls from the 2 nd floor is hurt very badly. The next day his son Rahmat comes over to take place of his ailing father. Rahmat does not speak, and finds it very difficult to cope up with the physical work there and so is handed over the work done by Lateef till then. Making tea, cooking food and the rest which Rahmat does with ease. Lateef is made to do the hard work now. Lateef hates Rahmat as he lost his easy work to Rahmat. He fights with Rahmat every now and then. One fine day, he learns a secret about Rahmat, which changes his entire outlook, and the rest of the movie is yours to watch.

Lateef is one of the best characters written for a movie. Rahmat is brilliantly portrayed on screen. Lots of other brilliant characters including the head of the construction site Memar, the afghan worker Soltan who wants to return home and so on. A few scenes are magical, to say one, the scene where Lateef learns the secret about Rahmat is lyrical.

I was thoroughly impressed by the simplicity of the movie and the brilliance of the director Majid Majidi. Later on more googling I found that this is the same who directed "Children of heaven" another beautiful movie, one of the most simplistic movies that I have ever watched.

If you like simple stories, real lovable characters and if you want to try your hands at Iranian cinema, both these movies are must watch. 8/10

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

LSD - movie review

Love Sex aur Dhoka is intelligent, captivating aur inspiring. Intelligent in the techniques employed to narrate the story, captivating in the impeccable emotions(considering the established norms of emotions in a commercial Indian movie) and will definitely be inspiring to the many wannabe film makers like me. Watched it yesterday night. I remember reading about a movie that was in the make long time back (when i was in my higher secondary)  in tamil called as "Nilaikannadi". The movie was supposed to be made with the point of view of a mirror with the characters coming in and out of the frame and the story would unfold. It never materialized as the idea was too novel to make an interesting feature film length movie without boring the audience with a limited camera perspective. Though LSD is not exactly the similar, the story unfolds as a series of clips shot by amateur movie maker, cctv(only 5-6 camera angles for this entire section that spans around 35 mins) and a spy cam. The movie is in three parts each one talks about Love, sex and betrayal. The movie was very impressive and its the direction by Dibaker Bannerjee that has made this such a refreshing movie experience and now I have to catch up with the other works of the director(Khosla ka Ghosla and Oye Lucky lucky oye).
Dont miss this one. 8/10 

P.S And one definitely has to give a round of applause for the interesting poster(pic above)