Director Rahul Sadasivan explores the extra-terrestrial connection to the red rain phenomenon in his debut feature film Red Rain.
In the monsoon of 2001, a drenched Kerala witnessed a strange phenomenon in its abundant showers – the colour red. In part fear, part amazement, people put out tentative hands to feel this new red rain; others pulled in washed clothes now stained pink, and still more gathered the cloudy liquid in buckets for study. Samples later concluded that locally proliferating algae caused the coloured rain. But among the many hypotheses debated was one that said the rains held proof of extra-terrestrial life. It is this possibility that filmmaker Rahul Sadasivan explores in his debut film, the Malayalam sci-fi thriller, Red Rain.
Rahul comes fresh from his experiences at London Film Institute, which were preceded by a course in animation at the University of Wales. “I was always interested in films and in particular, animation. I also wanted my first film to tell a real-life story, and research led me to Kerala’s red rain with its ET connection. It felt like the perfect opportunity to tell a true story with animated elements!” he says. And thus, the project was born in 2011. It began with hunting down scholars on the subject. Rahul met Professor Chandra Wickramasinghe from Cardiff University, who strongly believes a living organism from outer space caused the rain, and others who had similar such stories. “They helped me factually understand what happened. The film takes off from these ideas but doesn’t necessarily replicate them,” says Rahul.
Red Rain revolves around a young researcher trying to narrow down the rain’s cause with the help of his European friends. In reality too, the film is a collaborative effort between Rahul and his colleagues at Wales. “Once we finished a few flashback shots in Scotland, the entire crew moved to Palakkad where we shot the film in 30 days,” says Rahul.
The film’s camera work has been done by Jomon Thomas and Spaniard Sergio Kalei, with 3D animation by South Korean Young Min Choi, orchestral music scored and conducted by London-based Josh Spear, sound design by Brazilian Barbara Mingrone and editing by Italian Andrea Fortis. None of this international crew speak Malayalam just yet but filming in Kerala has given them a working understanding of it, laughs Rahul. The team will get together once again in December for another project, the idea of which is still being discussed.
Bringing in people from such varied backgrounds has also resulted in an as-yet unexperienced feel to Malayalam cinema believes Rahul. One of Rahul’s experimental choices has been to record all the film’s dialogues live on location. “We’ve used sync sound through the film as there’s no better way to capture the natural surroundings. There will be no dubbing done later, although, we do wish to subtitle the film in other languages and distribute it outside Kerala, since this is a universal theme,” he says. Another new tactic has been Sergio’s night vision camera filming. “There’s a sequence in the film which was shot entirely inside the pitch darkness of a jungle. Just the actors, cameraman and sync sound operator went deep inside to a point where they couldn’t see anything, barely each other. I directed them from far outside,” says Rahul.
Red Rain is produced by Rahul’s brother Sachin Sadasivan under their banner Highland Entertainment. The film is currently in post-production and is set to release in July. In the lead, it features Narain. He Ayalum Njanum Thammil Red Rain is joined by Tini Tom who plays a reporter, Mohan Sharma, Leona Lishoy and two European actors who are debuting in Indian films with Red Rain.