FILM Pawan Kumar’s film Lucia is a milestone in every sense of the word. The film dares a different kind of narrative and succeeds as well MURALIDHARA KHAJANE

The much awaited directorial venture of Pawan Kumar, Lucia , has carved a niche in the 80-year-old history of Kannada cinema for two reasons. It is the first Kannada feature film to have been completely crowd funded, providing a new dimension to Kannada film industry that is busily remaking successful films from other languages; the industry is also eager to usher in the dubbing culture for survival.

Without batting an eyelid, Lucia can be dubbed as a different kind of experiment, both in terms of film making and as a business venture. Before its commercial release, Lucia received the audience award at the London Indian Film Festival. Anurag Kashyap, who is regarded as an art film maker known to have a penchant for the dark and realistic, was appreciative of the creative and business concept of the film.

As the script is layered to suit the complexity of the concept which is difficult for a commercial producer to accept, and finance, Pawan conceived the idea of crowd funding, hoping to get the freedom to experiment. He did get what he desired. Was Pawan inspired by the American filmmaker Stanley Kubrick? “No,” says the 30-year-old, who has written stories for the films Manasare and Pancharangi . While assisting Yogaraj Bhat, he learnt the alternative film making style. However, he openly admits that he draws inspiration from Christopher Nolan and David Finch, who in turn are inspired by Kubrick. That’s probably why, the film has traces of Christopher Nolan’s Inception and Finch’s Mulholland Drive .

Considering the Kannada film standards, Lucia is a complex film. It is free from commercial elements. While one section of audience walks away from the film impressed, another section remain confused and some feel like they just woke up from a long dream. By his own admission, when Pawan dreamt of Lucia , he did not have the slightest clue that it would someday become more than just a movie script. “Nee Maayeyolago Ninnolu Maayeyo,” saint Kanakadasa’s metaphysical verse, was responsible for Lucia . As he goes on interspersing dream and reality in his narrative, at some points, it becomes difficult to separate one from the other, like the philosophy in Kanakadasa’s poetry.

Through the narrative, Pawan comments on the state of Kannada cinema, the fate of single screen, exploitation of artists, hegemony of English over native, colloquial Kannada, power of money, consumerism, class consciousness, urban-rural, economic and social divide in a subtle manner. Even a non-Kannadiaga could understand the film with apt subtitles.

Story meanders like a small stream, gentle in its flow, creating curiosity among viewers. Lucia slowly opens up different layers and absorbs attention. It opens with police officials and a private detective on the trail of a mysterious death of a film star. It immediately drifts to insomniac star (Ninasam Satish) Nikhil alias Nikki, who opts for dream pill named Lucia , which helps to have “desired” dreams. Interestingly, his dreams are in black and white, as he is “colour blind.”

In his dream he is the torch boy of single screens, who guides the audience to their seats. It is at once a comment on a tribe that’s fast disappearing as well as single screen theatres that are giving way to multiplexes.His dream is to screen the film which was once produced by Shankaranna, (Achyut Kumar) theatre owner, who groomed him. While he falls in love with upcoming actor Shweta (Shruthi Hariharan) in real life, he loves the same girl even in his dream. She works at a Pizza outlet, and feels Nikki is far inferior in status and in his inability to speak English. The two worlds move parallel to each other and finally collides. To make sense of the ending is a challenge and is best left to the audience. The strength of narration lies in its deft shift from realism to surrealism, without causing any confusion. Reposing faith in his ability to narrate, he blends songs and comedy in equal proportion. In 135 minutes, he takes the audience to a different world. Ninasam Satish, Shruthi Hariharan and Achyut Kumar have done justice to their characters, by living up to the director’s expectations.

Siddartha Nuni’s cinematography is excellent. Poornachandra Tejaswi has provided lovely tunes for Raghavendra and Yogaraj Bhat’s lyrics. Songs including Jumma Jumma and Thinbedakami haunts even after coming out of theatre. Badal and Mallikarjun created right ambience with the support of Shashidhara Adapa for the script.

There are inherent flaws in the film, but an experiment of this nature takes precedence over all else. With multiple viewing, the film is bound to throw up fresh meanings, and when Pawan said the film will mean differently, it wasn’t an exaggeration afterall.