Ad filmmaker Jayendra talks about his debut film ‘180'

There is always a high expectation from a movie if it is coming from an ad film maker turned director. A tightly edited and interesting story, visually appealing shots, simple content narrated cogently without any deviations and finally some food for thought without being preachy; all these can be expected from the debut film of ad film maker. When Jayendra, the director, released the first teaser of his upcoming film 180 starring Siddarth, Priya Anand and Nitya Menon, it raised a lot of curiosity. The poster had a man standing upside down with a caption — ee vayasu ika raadhu. “People started drawing their own inferences, some even said it was 180 degrees. It started as a working title and we decided to retain it,” says a smiling Jayendra. But why did he decide to make a feature film after 25 years in the advertising industry?

Jayendra actually was ready with a story after his first five years in the ad world but he concentrated more into changing of the technology in the film industry. A co-founder of Real Image Media Technologies, they have more than 600 people working with them on technology that is being used by 28 countries. They introduced the Avid editing system, from cutting and sticking film to computer based editing. It revolutionised the way people worked and also introduced the six track sound, the DTS - it enhanced cinema viewing experience for the movie goers who started appreciating sound like never before. In midst of all this, he shot a carnatic concert film digitally and presented it in the theatres that bought terrific response from people in India and abroad.

After enjoying such a fair share of success in the advertising field, Jayendra began working on a script that took over two years to be ready. It was a tight bound script and they went to production with every detail minutely and extensively planned. “We wanted to shoot for 105 days. We shot only a day extra,” he adds. It was shot in Malaysia, Chennai and Hyderabad, USA. The director claims that he is unfamiliar with the films that the heroines have done previously, he saw his characters in them and cast them in his film. His close associates and those who read the script unanimously agreed to cast Siddharth. It was originally conceived as a Telugu film, but being born and brought up in Chennai, he wanted to make it into bilingual.

180 has all the ingredients of a successful commercial film — it stands a very good chance of resonating with all kinds of audiences. The director, when he set out to write this story was very sure of not having violence as a focal point. Violence without a thought in movies, showing mindless killing would make people numb, he averred and opted for something sensitive and meaningful that would make us re-evaluate our lives and the world around us. The content would not be heavy or serious but there would be thoughts that has stemmed from the director's values, beliefs and experiences.

He adds, “You will realise it when you leave the theatres not when you are seeing the film because you will be completely taken over by the content while watching.”

Experience is the biggest boon for a filmmaker. One has to see life to make films that are relevant. Jayendra had put in his ability to observe and absorb everything in life to put it in perspective. He shot twice, once in Tamil and then in Telugu because he thought it would be a compromise if he made the artistes speak in one language and dubbed it into another. “I saw a difference in the dialogue being spoken in both languages. There is a big difference in expression. We were sensitive to the nuances of the language, to the expressions that each line that evokes and therefore we have a true product that each language demands,” he adds. The USP of the film is the outstanding performances he quips and says he would release the film depending on the availability of theatres in summer. “I'd rather compete with cricket than other films. If the film is good, people will miss cricket and come to watch the film,” he signs off confidently.