Short and sweet

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REALITY BITES Cinematographer K. Ramachandra Babu
REALITY BITES Cinematographer K. Ramachandra Babu

Cineku, the cinematic version of haiku, is catching on

Scene one: A fragile old paralytic man decides to commit suicide. Two: He fastens the rope to a hook and climbs on to a chair. Three: The rope snaps and he falls down with a thud, only to find he is now normal. The end. A few seconds of silence allows us to grasp the tragic-comedy depicted in this one-minute film, Suicide based on Dorothy Parker's poem "Razor pain you... nooses give... you might as well live," and inspired by the Japanese haiku. A brainchild of Kerala-based cinematographer, K. Ramachandra Babu, cinekus have begun attracting attention for their brevity and creativity. Ramachandra has five other cinekus to his credit — Fire, Lending Hands, Kiss of Lives, Doctors and Knives. All his films are silent, but the tuneful background score more than makes up.Lending hands, for example, portrays the mutual dependence across generations: a baby holding its mom's hands, a couple holding each others' hands and an elderly man trying to ascend the steps as his spouse lends a helping hand."I take real-life instances to make a strong impact. But it is a challenge to get people to comprehend the message in just a minute. But, that's where the excitement lies," Ramachandra says. "If you can write a story in three lines, why can't you show it in three shots?" he asks. But the rules for cineku are rigid — three shots (the maximum duration of a shot can be 40 seconds and the total length of the film, a minute) and no optical or computer-generated graphics. "I formulated these rules only to make creativity come to the fore. All I want people to do is shoot things as they are and edit it short enough to narrate a story," he explains.Ramachandra's cinekus have been screened at the IV Film Festival in Bolzano, Italy, and the Trivandrum International Film Festival. Babu says the experience of working with noted directors, including Mani Ratnam, Hariharan and Sasi Kumar, came in handy when he made his maiden cineku. "To make it look more appealing, I worked with professional technicians and artists. But you can make a simple cineku with just a handy-cam," he says. The filmmaker hopes cineku will reach more people after he signs an MoU with an American software company, which will develop software to shrink the videos enough to float them on the web and multimedia message services (MMS). Check out his website for details.S. AISHWARYA




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