Friday, April 29, 2016

Sinners at an abode

In 35 days I was getting married. I was busy searching for a house in Bengaluru. The house which we liked was somehow not convincing enough and arranging money was also difficult. The rains in Bangalore were getting worse. One of the days I got stuck in a traffic jam for 4 hours. I was in a bus crowded with software engineers, lucky enough to put the left cheek of my ass on a cushion. There were already three people in that seat. Inside the bus a thought kept hovering around me. “What if this is it ? What if the rest of my life is going to be in a crowded bus stuck in traffic with the nausea of morning perfumes collating with evening sweat.”  My feature films current producer pretended to be interested but he was misleading. Two big actors had already said no. (By ‘BIG’  I meant they are relatively popular in the malyalam film industry and not known anywhere else in the world )
As the bus became suffocating and the rain worse I thought about my schooldays and my visits to the temple. I had become an atheist in between and then a pagan. I get so confused with religion that I pray to god to help me out. (J). I haven’t shot anything in the last month. The random thoughts that appeared were sublime, momentary and gone. I grabbed the  sketchpad which Unni (friend- designer- artist- human) had gifted me earlier that month and started writing things down. By the end of the journey I had structure.

The next day I got stuck in the same traffic for 3 hours but this time I was equipped. I had installed Celtx in my phone and started writing the script for my next short film. The name “Bhagavathykaavile paapikal”  was jotted down a day before I went to sleep. If I come up with an idea I talk to people (close friends and filmmakers). There are various viewpoints on every subject. Once I understand people’s viewpoints I go ahead and put my ideas on paper. Some of this may conflict with others view points and some resonate. There is research involved in the topic both field work and library work. Bhagavathykaavile Papikal was a product of some research I had done while on a recce trip to Ajanta. I also came across people who sell and buy religious goods. (camphor, agarbathi, cloth) in Banaras which inspired me on how religion is a source of living for a lot of people. The first draft was made in a crowded bus. The subsequent drafts where designed and made taking a lot of rehearsals with myself.
Syama deciding whether to use the crown or not

The entire team 

Rahul Rajagopal, Vishnu haridas, Arjun Sreekumar, Vishnu Renjith

Vishnu Haridas, Krishand (Me) and Syama (art director -wife)

Rahul Rajagopal and Krishand (me) 

I don’t believe that every film should have a purpose. As someone who takes film-making seriously’ films not having purpose’ may seem a pedestrian thought. Bhgavathykaavu is something that was in my head. As a person whose philosophy keeps changing rapidly and contradicting itself I would say at the time of envisaging the film my idea was something to say about religion. In this social-political-religious climate I felt it important to state what I think about religion. I believe that there is a force in nature and that’s why we Malayalis worship trees, suns, snake and rain. (This force might be something we created to give us hope.) I am disturbed by the fact that these forces are used for monetary political benefits and have become an albatross around our neck. In the film a trapped goddess tries to escape from her temple. She is helped by two sinners. Sins are relative and hence god is not worried about the sins of these sinners. She selfishly wants to escape her followers. In the last 6 months my philosophy has changed so looking at the film I could see a more clearer me. It was a personal narrative exploration with my own religious philosophies and that might be the purpose.

The best part were the discussions i had with Rahul Rajagopal and Vishnu Haridas which helped me question my choice of content.

Raman Nair- (character name)
The character is played by G. Radhakrishnan Nair a retired inspector at Kerala road transport cooperation. He is also popular for his characters in amateur theatre circle of 1980’s. Being a poet and a performer it was quite for him to assume the character. My father.
George Mathew –(character name)
The character of corrupt police officer is played by Rahul Rajagopal an assistant manager at HDFC Ernakulam. He has previously been a part of several short films and performance art.
Bhagavathy –(character name)
Played by Kavitha S Nair who has done three short films previously in the leading role. She is a classical dancer and a model currently working in Infopark  Nila.
Radhakrishnan Nair, Rahul Rajagopal and Kavitha S Nair

Editor -------Rakesh Cherumadam is an editor from Ernakulam currently settled in Mumbai. He has edited numerous short films and a few documentaries. He is also the founder of Neelavelicham studio an enclave for independent filmmakers.

Music Director  ---------Ajmal Hasbulla
Ajmal Hasbulla

Sound Designers ------ Rameez Ibrahim , Kiran Sasi.
Art Direction and Costumes Design   ----------Syama is a costume designer with a clean sense of colors and design. She is into understanding color and texture and using them to achieve subtle details in costumes. (My wife.)
Make up and Art consultant    ---Nagaroor Mohandas –The experimental stage show Panchajanyam from the troop Kalapeedham was designed and created by Nagaroor Mohandas. As an expert in ‘Achara Anushtana Kala’ he contributed to the overall feel of characters and its makeup.
Nagaroor Mohandas

Sound Foley and Effects ----------- Ambu R

Ambu R

Associate DOP

Vishnu Haridas
Vishnu Haridas

Assistant Direction
Rahul Rajagopal
Vishnu Ranjith

Produced by
Akhil Vinayak
Co-produced by
Rakhil Akkali
Rinu Krishna
Vijay Bosco

Ministry of movies trivandrum (dubb)
Puja sounds kochi (dub and mix)

Additional editing lab
Sacred Hearts Tavera

Script Consultant
Ajith Kesavan Haridas
executive producer
Ajith Kesavan Haridas
Kiran Sasi
Snake abode violin

Radhakrishnan Nair(dad) waiting for the train shot beside a temple in varkala

Rahul taking position for the train shot 

kavita in a casual conversation just before the take

Unhappy about
I am not happy with the sound. My favorite sound designer was busy on another project and hence sound lacked its brilliance. There are places where the dubbing feels hollow and in the studio. Especially in the shouting scenes. The ambiance mixing of waterfall was not done though Rameez did his best. Kiran Sasi oversaw the sound and helped it gain atleast the shape it has. Still not happy

i am also not  a big fan of the performance of the convict character played by my Dad. The whole thing was supposed to be funny ended up looking serious. Also Kavitha hadn't rehearsed her lines and could only perform as if she was reading it out. BY the end of the film it changes however to a comfortable performancebut in the beginning there is this big flaw. However a lot of foreigners loved her performance and mentioned about it in their feedback. The whole thing was also rushed because of the rain hence actor comfort level was lacking too.
The edit could have been sharper but we had a race with time. I am so happy with Rakesh eye.
The movie was not color corrected. Just recovered from 'neutral' profile to vivid.

The key to this film is the space.  The space being an abode. (kaavu). There is a temple near to a waterfall and its add to the pagan outlook of the film. The film is about how these spaces in nature where taken up by man and worshiped. Later came places of worship because humans need a face/personality for beliefs. These places of worship soon lost its purpose of originally worshiping that nature and evolved into autocratic religious institutions where nature is trapped. This trapped nature-goddess had to be shown in effectively isolated environmental panache which the location provided.
The movie was shot at Irunutty waterfalls (aka MEENMUTTY falls) in KALLARA, MULLAKARa, Trivandrum , Kerala. The content being environmental and spatial had to be shot in its natural pristine niche.

Has it made me a better man. Time will tell. :-D

Friday, April 15, 2016


The stage 2 screenplay ended with mixed feelings. It became more of a science class than a screenplay writing workshop with students. at Sacred Hearts school of communication Tavera.

Most of these naive students are in their bachelors. A handful of them were really interested in the class and rest came to the classes for attendance. Some didn't turn up at all.

There was an exam at the end which was purely judged on the basis of story they created and worked they had done. The submission list was is laws mailed and a few students who were intermittent during classes scored high marks. The other students also performed quite nice and surprisingly a few of them failed.

An exam oriented screenplay writing class to minor students  is always a disaster. However it was fun since the students were fun,

Slides are updated here. mind my design sense. (graphic handicap)

Its always fun interacting with students from this age group. Thier ideas are fresh. Most of them are inspired from content they have seen on TV or Film. More or less like how i was when i was of the same age. It took me a while to understand who I am and what my content actually looks like. 
I am happy with their honesty in story telling. Honesty is something that filmmakers loose as they become better and better.

Students work samples

Geevarghese Jimmy's character design

Govind kammath's character design

Vishnu Sreekumars intersting storylines character design
christ toms character

Saruns Character imagery

Aditi's initial story scribbles\

Aravind's character study 

Aswathy Shivdas character study
Gautam's simple character design

Anamays character Joe

Aagyas rocket character

I had fun with the students and that is something that really helps me work. Everything else is secondary.