The L.V. Prasad Film and TV Academy's convocation showcased short films made by its students

L.V. Prasad Film and TV Academy had its convocation recently and gave away awards to deserving students, simply calling the prizes, well… Academy awards.

Actors Sivakumar, Prakash Raj and filmmaker Vishal Bhardwaj were the guests on the occasion, which was just an excuse to premiere this year's produce of short films made by the students.

All three guests have a very personal connection with the institute. If Sivakumar spoke of his long association with the studio and his admiration for LV. Prasad's work delving on the brilliance of “Manohara” to make his point, Prakash Raj acknowledged the role the family played even in the past to empower dreams of students and recollected sitting for Director K. Hariharan's lecture on “The Battleship Potemkin.” For Vishal Bhardwaj, it was a special occasion because his son Aalaap Majgavkar was passing out of film school.

Bhardwaj had two tips to share — things he learned from his mentor Gulzaar. “One, emotion is always greater than logic in films. Two, opportunity will come your way when you start shoot, you just have to keep your eyes open and the ammunition ready.”

K. Hariharan, Director of the Academy, observed how a videographer, a school dropout made more movies than any other filmmaker in the world by virtue of documenting a set of events built around a set of characters, all neatly summed up and edited by the end of the day. “The text is easy. Anyone, including the videographer, can come up with the text. It is the context that will make you a filmmaker.”

This year's crop was an intriguing mix of Tamil, Hindi, English and even a Bengali film. “Marupakkam,” which won the Best Film prize, directed by Dhayanithi (Cinematography: Lenzyel Antao, Sound: Aalaap Majgavkar and Editing: Varchasva Duntha), was a poignantly tragic film about a wastrel unable to save the girl he loved from his own brother. Treated like a mainstream commercial film with its romance and chase sequences, “Marupakkam” kept the audience intrigued with its gripping cat and mouse game, and by building tension before its gruesome climax.

Inspired by “Buried,” Manuja Tyagi's “In Between” (Cinematography: Yethi Premchand, Editing: Arnav Das, Sound: Pradip Ramanathan) thankfully steered clear of the Ryan Reynolds film after a rather faithful start, by turning the story of a man trapped in a coffin into a neat anti-smoking film about an asthmatic smoker (Yog Japee) caught between life and death, the coffin employed as a metaphor for purgatory.

Vinayak Ram's brooding “Mannippaayaa” (Cinematography: Siddharth Srinivasan, Editing: Shurti Tikkavarapu, Sound: Smrithi) used silences well to tell us the story about a slacker son who has to make peace with his ailing mother after a long period of estrangement. The film unravels rather slowly and confidently as a character study focusing on his alienation, saving up its conflict and the denouement for the very end, but effectively at that.

“Indhiyam,” directed by Ekta Arora, (Cinematography: Advitha G, Editing: Aalaap Majgavkar, Sound: Karthik Jogesh) that was adjudged the second best film, was technically one of the best executed films with its gritty, edgy and soulful narrative enhanced by interesting editing and sound design. Telling us the hopeless story of a glue-sniffing addict and his sister's desperate attempts to reclaim her brother, this was the darkest of the lot.

Contrastingly, “Mudhal Mudhalaai,” directed by Ramya Ananthe (Cinematography: Santhosh Bhoopalan, Editing: Keethi Raja, Sound: Akruti Rao) was a light-hearted film about first love in school. Extracting realistic performances from the two child actors, this short film about love breezes along towards a misdirection of a twist and a Groundhog Day-invoking cinematography to make it work.

The film that stays with you for long, however, is “Nirgun,” the Bengali film directed by Parthib Dutta (Cinematography: Tamal Kanti Paul, Editing: Akruti Rao, Sound: Varchasva Duntha) that was screened without any subtitles, but made its point just through its visual grammar. Well-enacted, leisurely told with hints that keep us hooked, this dystopian film disturbs with its distressing reveal at the very end.

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Sudhish KamathMay 11, 2012