Movies

Sudesh Balan’s short film ‘Saakshatkaaram’ to be screened at MIFF

(from left) Prakash VG, Sudesh Balan and Saritha Kukku on the set of Saakshatkaaram’

(from left) Prakash VG, Sudesh Balan and Saritha Kukku on the set of Saakshatkaaram’ | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Saakshatkaaram, a 15-minute film directed by Sudesh Balan, sensitively focusses on the universality of emotions while dreaming of the earth sans boundaries, man-made or geographical.

A faculty member at IDC School of Design IIT Bombay, the architect-turned-academic and filmmaker says the ‘overview effect’ experienced by astronauts inspired him to make Saakshatkaaram.

“Seeing the tiny, blue speck, the earth, from outer space, creates a cognitive shift, a change in sensory perceptions among astronauts. This feeling, known as overview effect, emphasises how boundaries are petty when one realises that this little speck is all we have to survive and thrive. It is humanity that matters.”

If it was a voyage to space which instilled that feeling of oneness in them, the same can be achieved through yoga and meditation through an internal transformation, Sudesh says. “I was inspired by the overview effect and wanted to make a film on that.”

Prakash VG and  Saritha Kukku in a still from Saakshatkaaram’

Prakash VG and Saritha Kukku in a still from Saakshatkaaram’ | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Sudesh drives home the point with a story of an elderly man who loses his wife in an accident. Her hands are donated to a woman from another country who had lost hers in a bomb explosion. Before she leaves for her home, the woman and her husband express a desire to meet the good Samaritan who helped them.

The meeting between the husband and the woman’s family is suffused with emotions but never once does it become maudlin or melodramatic. “I interacted with grieving relatives who had donated the organs of their loved ones, and with recipients. I felt that hands, for instance that of a mother, would evoke so many memories and sentiments in a child. The hands would have fed, carried, comforted and hugged. I would be able to recognise my mother’s or wife’s hands anywhere. It must be difficult to see those familiar hands on a stranger.”

Prakash VG and Saawan Rithu in a still from  Sudesh Balan’s ‘Saakshatkaaram’

Prakash VG and Saawan Rithu in a still from Sudesh Balan’s ‘Saakshatkaaram’ | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Sudesh believes that unlike internal organs, hands have a unique identity. He visited a limb rehabilitation centre in Kerala to understand how doctors and physio-therapists help patients with transplanted limbs.

Sudesh brings in elements of nature unobstrusively into the film. He says he enjoys handling all the departments of cinema himself but since he wanted to concentrate on the actors, he took in Prayag Mukundan as cinematographer.

Paris Laxmi in Saakshatkaaram, directed by Sudesh Balan

Paris Laxmi in Saakshatkaaram, directed by Sudesh Balan | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Prakash VG (Vettukili Prakash), Paris Laxmi, Saritha Kukku and Saawan Rithu, singer Sithara Krishnakumar’s daughter, play significant roles. “I wanted to capture the play of emotions on Laxmi’s face as she meets the grieving husband.”

Sudesh quotes from Walter Murch’s book on film editing, In The Blink of an Eye, where the Academy Award winning editor and sound designer compares the blinking of the eye to a paragraph in the brain. “We blink our eyes when we change subjects or talk to a different person. The editing of the film was done in accordance with that principle as I wanted to experiment with that idea.”

While the first half of the film consists mainly of conversations between the characters, the second half charts the mental progression of the characters and viewers learn more about the wife who was killed in the accident.

The music track by Rajesh Naroth also tunes in to the two cultures of the characters. The music is an interplay of the Indian flute and the Duduk, an Armenian reed instrument.

Produced by IIT Bombay, the film will be screened on June 3 at MIFF.


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Printable version | Aug 7, 2022 8:03:43 am | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/sudesh-balans-saakshatkaaram-on-humanity-universal-emotions/article65480070.ece