The mirror as camera!
Ajith and Chandrashekar... innovative filmmakers.
THE SCENE of action is a hill resort. The weather is gloomy accentuated by thunder and lightening. Power plays truant. And someone or the other almost always books the most comfortable room. Everything is fine until a murder takes place. And each of those who have spent the night in the room is a suspect. And the only thing that has seen everything is the mirror. This mirror only reflects what is going on. So you have terrorists hiding a bomb in that room, there are some college girls out to have a good time; businessmen staying the night after several rounds of alcohol and acrimony; a crabby man who finds no hope in anything; and then the murder!
The scene is set for ``Nilai Kannadi," a film which communicates entirely from the perspective of a mirror! A looking glass or Nilai Kannadi also happens to be the camera. This is probably the first time this technique is being attempted in Indian cinema where the camera is static and all action takes place before it. There are no movements to capture close-ups, long shots! Everything thing is shot at a single angle and block. There is no single frame movement or change of lens, but because of the lighting the viewer gets a feel of the time of the day and the effects of the rain and thunder. They forget that they are watching the same frame.
``Nobody in India has tried doing it," says K. S. Ajith Kumar, producer, and adds that ``we are also trying to find out whether anyone in the world has done it. We have not even tried to use lens and while shooting we put up the camera with the tripods fixed to the ground for the entire stretch of the schedule." According to him the film does not have any hero or heroines, lead characters. ``We thought we should make a film with a difference. We wanted to show a range of things for it to be lively so we decided to showcase 34 main characters as guests in the resort. These are our main characters and the story is about them. Or rather about a murder, which involves all of them in some way.'' Whoever comes in as a guest has a link to the honeymooning couple who are murdered. So suspicion builds up. Who really did it? The story has been written by Ajith's partner, C. D. Chandrashekar, who has also directed the film.``We decided to produce it ourselves (AC Films) because it is so different that we didn't think anyone else would have wanted to produce it. It is so novel that it would have been difficult to convince an outside producer. So we thought we'd do it ourselves," they say. The film has no fights or songs but only a comedy track for that commercial appeal a track which happens between the room boys and the supervisor of that hotel. ``We've planned the characters in such a manner that each looks very different. All very lively, very natural.
How did they come upon such an idea? Says Ajith, ``Well, Chandru and I travel a lot. We have clients all over and the constant stay hotel rooms set us thinking. I don't think such a film has been done before but some do say that there is a film called `Window' shot in single block, but this apparently has some camera movements. Our film does not even have this.'' In the film you see artistes coming in and moving around from one point to another. And for close up, these characters come near the mirror. And if a mid shot is needed, they move away. Again, they move not the camera. Ajith says they have taken great pains to select the cast for each character and most of them are from the advertising world to which they too belong. They had to be given several rehearsals. Each person has to perform from one point to another and also has to hold on for at least two minutes. And sometimes the shots last for at least three to four minutes. Since there are no cutting points, what happens once he stands near the mirror and the dialogue is over? And the next shot is near the toilet? Won't we see a jump? Computer graphics has taken care of that transition vibes, blurbs and black vibes and white flashes.
Music for the film has been scored by Paul Raj, a person they use extensively for their ads films with Om Prakash wielding the camera. Both Ajith Kumar and Chandrasekar started their adverting careers with Sasi Advertising till they set up their own agency AC Films as the Account Director and Creative Director respectively. Together they have done some well-appreciated ads such as AVT Premium, Milka Bread, Franch Oil, Gold Winner Sunflower Oil, Arun Ice Cream, Funskool Toys, and Pothys with quite a few shot overseas in exotic locations. With over ten years experience in the advertising this is the time they thought they should try their hand at making a full-fledged film. And they want it to be a film with a difference a cliché perhaps but if you take a look, you will know that this is something unique.
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