Dark and mysterious, science meets the bizarre in debut filmmaker Adivi Sesh's 'Karma'.
Did a thriller require violence?
Could a thriller be humorous?
Was the thriller related more to the horror film or more to the detective film?
Author and film critic Charles Derry questions in his book, The Suspense Thriller: Films in the shadow of Alfred Hitchcock.
The U.S.-trained debut filmmaker Adivi Sesh says he is taking the film noir to the next level with his suspense thriller, Karma, which has a romantic angle as well. Though set in the US, the subject is very Indian as the title indicates.
He gave it a subtitle - 'Do you believe?' to create that aura.
While Sesh himself has played the protagonist Dev, he took a very South Indian looking Jade Tailor for the central character Padma. "When Padma was six, her father (played by Ramakrishna) was murdered by a priest who misuses his status for greed and becomes a drug peddler. Padma and her mother escape to an obscure town called Shamrock to save their lives. Years pass by. Padma is now a 23-year-old Pre Med student.
A heart attack takes her mother away and she is left alone and in despair. Even her good friend Raj (Sher Ali) is unable to bring her out of trauma. The quiet and scenic town of Shamrock becomes home to some deadly murders, with evidence of cannibalism and torture.
It is during this time of chaos and despair Padma comes across the mysterious stranger, Dev. And she has to spend a few days with him all alone," Sesh pauses with a mysterious grin.
He has shot most of the film in Carmel near San Francisco. With its beautiful sweep of the adjacent Pacific Ocean and coastline meandering alongside the beachfront, the small but historic town with about 100 wooden houses on the nearby hill is aptly named 'scenic drive'.
?Carmel is known for its intimate village atmosphere that is worth experiencing. No Indian filmmaker has shot in these locations,? says the San Francisco State University Film School graduate. Born and brought up in USA, Sesh speaks fluent Telugu without any accent.
"That is because of my upbringing. I may not know about India, but I do know Indian culture and traditions."
This factor helped him write a complex story based on Karma interspersed with gruesome happenings besides building a romantic angle.
"Padma has a strong feeling that there is some sort of connection between the incidents and Dev who is a mystery for her. The story happens from her point of view. As a student of science she refuses to buy into Dev's philosophies of life. She is stubborn in her belief until Dev starts behaving in a strange manner." Why and how he behaves like that is the suspense.
"The romantic angle between the hero and heroine is not a routine one. It is shown in a much deeper level," he says.
Two songs were shot on the actors while four are background songs composed by Leland Thumes and Pete One. Award-winning Hollywood cinematographer James Laxton used the cutting edge Red 4K camera technology to get the precision thriller effect.
"Except for the DTS and DI (Digital Intermediate) correction that we have done in Mumbai, the movie is made entirely in the US. We will be getting the first copy in a couple of weeks. The promos released on You Tube proved to be a hit with the youth," says Sesh.
His elder brother Adivi Sai Kiran had already proved his worth with the Vinayakudu series and he is confident that it is his turn now.
Produced by Bhavani Adivi and Harsh Singh, the soon-to-be-released movie is produced under Thousand Lights Inc banner.