A story of two boys from a poverty-stricken background, Roadside Ambanis won recognition at the recent Norway Short Film Festival
“As the main cast comprises children, directing them should be easy, I thought, but the experience left me exasperated,” laughs Kamal Sethu. His 19-minute film, Roadside Ambanis, has won him the Best Short Film Director Award at the Norway Short Film Festival 2012. Kamal is working as an assistant director for the soon-to-be-released Ajmal-starrer, Karuppampatti. “After watching Roadside Ambanis, Prabhu Raja Chozhan, director of Karuppampatti, promoted me as an associate,” he says. B. Lenin is the editor of RA. Lenin was passing by the room where Maruthi, his assistant, was watching RA, as he was going to edit it. A little later Kamal was thrilled when Maruthi came out and told him that Lenin himself wished to do the job. “I understood RA had impressed him,” smiles Kamal. “The music and lyrics of the Mamiboys group is another plus.”
Every stage of the making — organising the finance, the shoot per se and post-production — was a challenge. But Kamal scaled them with grit. “I made a request through FB and many came forward to help. Social networking sites are helpful to people like me,” he says. To lend credibility to the film, Kamal chose children from the low-income group as actors. “Praveen, the protagonist, is from a very poor family. Himaj, the other main actor, is the son of my friend’s brother.”
RA is the story of Kanna, who comes from a sordid home. The family has the proverbial drunkard as its head, a constantly wailing mom, and a baby. Kanna is pulled out of school and sent to work. Life may deal several blows even at a tender age but he refuses to be cowed down, and dreams big. He aims to start a business of his own. And he does, after meeting quite a few challenges! Without skirting issues, the film touches upon child labour, the agony of the have-nots and their aspirations that refuse to be subdued by the trials in life.
But why did Kamal find directing the child brigade tough? “They were a very playful lot. In the midst of the shoot, they would insist I supply ice creams. No amount of coaxing would work,” smiles Kamal. He has sent RA to 11 other short film fests and is optimistic about the results.
‘A life below the poverty line — a dream beyond the poverty line’ goes the slug that aptly summarises the story of Roadside Ambanis.