“YOU NEED TO HAVE CONVICTION AND BELIEVE IN YOUR STORY TO MAKE IT”
By Christal Ferrao
Every year, the selection committee faces the difficult task of shortlisting films for cinema lovers. This year we see some budding young talent presenting their debut work at IFFI. Oru Paathira Swapnam Pole (Like A Midnight Dream) is about a mother who is diagnosed with cancer, and simultaneously discovers a nude video of her daughter on her laptop. It focuses on concurrent conflicts in the life of a mother, who has to deal with her medical condition and question the way to control and protect her daughter.
The film is shot in Kochi and portrays the private lives of the characters. Informing The Peacock about the concept, director, Sharan Venugopal, said that he doesn’t like to share space often with people and is a man of few words. He connected with a short story titled Vaibhavam written by his friend Susmesh Chandroth about exploring kinship ties in a private space. He chanced upon this and made the film as his diploma project as a student at Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute, Kolkata. He is grateful to his mentor, Putul Mehmood, from Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute for her guidance during the film. He took a group of his close confidants onboard. He was skeptical about the release of the film due to the pandemic but is delighted to be a part of IFFI. He is also happy that South Indian actor Nadiya Moidu played the role of the mother in the film.
A significant aspect of the making of the film was that it brought young filmmakers from different states together to produce a regional Malayalam film. Sharan is from Kerala, Koustabh Mukherjee from Bengal is the cinematographer, Jyoti Swaroop Panda from Odisha did the editing, Prathik Sonkar from Madhya Pradesh worked on sound, and Prateek Bagi from Punjab is the producer. “Language doesn’t play a role in making a film. We need to understand the concept and be thorough with executing the project,” said Prateek.
Speaking about portraying two women characters as a male filmmaker, Sharan said, “A filmmaker has to learn to be sensitive to understand characters irrespective of gender. Mainstream cinema, unfortunately, conforms to the stereotype of using the male gaze rather than depict the sensitive side. I wanted to make a film in a sympathetic way. I have been inspired by the work of Polish director, Krzysztof Kieslowski, who has made films on women despite being a male filmmaker. We need more representation from women in cinema and I hope young women are inspired to make more films,” Sharan said.
The film also deals with the conflicting relationships between parents and children. Speaking about this, Sharan reflected that in our culture, it is common for parents to want to control the lives of their children when the latter seeks independence. Yet in the film, the mother is a liberal woman who encourages open conversations despite wanting to be conservative and assertive. The film encourages such open conversations.
A great part of the film is based in a closed setting, a house with few shots outdoors. “While working in a private setting, you need to understand the mood of the scene and the way you have to communicate the same. I planned the movment accordingly”, Kaustabh said.
Sharan plans to work more on films that explore interpersonal relationships. “You need to have conviction and believe in your story to make it”, he said.