While the film industry is in a pandemic-induced shutdown, creative maestros have shown that nothing can keep them down for too long. Singers, photographers and other artistes have experimented with and pushed the envelope with their craft during this time. Malayalam directors too, seem to be using this time to ‘upskill’ or do some background work that could help in their films.
Alphonse Puthren had said late last year that he was taking lessons to learn more about music for his next venture, Pattu. And he had also released a song he composed early this year, titled Kathakal Chollidam. Meanwhile, Pramod of the Pramod-Pappan duo, has been brushing up his technical skills and teaching himself Virtual Reality (VR) graphics.
The director duo are set to start work on a project after the lockdown and will use the technology for the film. “We are getting the story ready. It is about a boy and a little dog. We need huge frames when we do a film, so we will get a team to do the green screen work, but I have always liked graphics — I do cinematography and editing — and wanted to get more skilled. The advantage is that since I have learnt to handle the software, I can prepare the storyboard and fix camera movements using this beforehand,” says Pramod, who with his brother made movies like Thaskaraveeran and Unni Mukundan-starrer Bangkok Summer.
He recently made a VR model of the ancient pilgrimage spot of Mount Kailash in its pristine state and it provides quite a transportive experience. “There are no 360-degree shots or good aerial views of the mountain, so I pulled out a satellite map and learnt what it might have looked like authentically and made a 3D graphic,” says the director, who has created about 20 fantasy-like VR visuals over the past months.
Ranjith Sankar has also been researching something almost-fantasy like in the past couple of months. The filmmaker, who wrote four screenplays in the first lockdown, recently published a short story on the incredible cryptocurrency trade, which has seen people making and losing fortunes overnight. “I thought the cryptocurrency was something illegal used for arms trade and smuggling, till cricketer Brett Lee donated 1 Bitcoin to India’s COVID-19 relief work. Then I researched and spoke to my US-based friends about it, to write this story that is based a bit in fact and fiction, as it were,” says the Kamala director.
Fans have asked him if he will make the story into a film and he says that he has considered it, but for now, it seems too tricky a subject for a film.
Rejishh Midhila has been “studying Hindi” during this lockdown period. The Varikkuzhiyile Kolapathakam filmmaker is brushing up his language skills and doing some legal research for a crossborder romance “with a bigger message” that he is writing. “The second half is in a Hindi setting and usually we would have a character who speaks Malayalam so that the audience can relate, but I’m not doing that. So I need to learn Hindi properly myself to be able to write it. I had several stories in mind for my next project, but the so-called positive that the lockdown is offering is time; which means I can learn and do research for this film, which will be quite a big project,” he says.