Ram Alladi’s ‘Panne’: A search for identity and freedom

Set in the Post-Independence era, the film explores how the individual’s freedom is bound by social restrictions

February 08, 2023 04:11 pm | Updated 04:11 pm IST

A still from ‘Panne’

A still from ‘Panne’ | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Writer-director Ram Alladi’s new political fiction drama Panne is in its final stages of post-production and readying for a 2023 summer release. The story set in the newly Independent India follows the journey of a young woman struggling to find her identity and striving to establish it.

Ram Alladi

Ram Alladi | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

He got this idea while making Ra’s Metanoia (2020), a period film — it won him a ‘best director award at the Dada Saheb Film Festival 2021 — based on events in Mahatma Gandhi’s life. “The idea of ‘freedom’ has intrigued me since childhood.; My search for ‘what is Independence’ continued when I read stories of the Partition. I wondered, “If a person doesn’t have individual freedom, can he fight for social freedom?” says Ram over a video call from New York. While drafting the story, he reflected on the cultural restrictions that bind individual freedom. “We have many customs and gender-based restrictions; it is not about men or women but the constraints that affect individual freedom.”

Challenges of identity

The story deals with an 18-year-old daughter of a widow — whose husband had been killed by fanatics during Partition — confined within her house. While it is tough for the widow to come out due to societal restrictions of the time, the girl struggles for identity. Since the story is taken from history, it is titled Panne. and compares the social freedom of a new, Independent India with the individual freedom of the lead actor played by Kalpana Tiwari. While Hemanth Muthoju is the art designer, other actors include Pankaj Munshi, Anand Rangarajan, Vijaya Posala, Silpa Das, Prasad Kamalanabha and Sam Mukherjee, “I took a political backdrop because we see many ups and downs and restrictions on freedom in politics,” he elaborates.

Back to school

A still from ‘Panne’

A still from ‘Panne’ | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

While Ram took four months in early 2022 to draft the story, he took another three months to establish characters, screenplay, dialogues (Hindi) and small plots to take the narration forward. The movie was shot in his hometown Warangal and Hyderabad. “I did college and have my own business in Warangal. ” Interestingly, the movie was shot in his school, St Gabriel High School in Kazipet. Ram says, “When I thought of a historic building for shooting, I immediately remembered my school. Also, it was memorable to go back to the place where I started doing cultural activities. I was happy to be shooting a major scene of Panne at a spot where I wrote my first play in 1984 when I was 10 years old.”

With a run time of three hours, Panne is also being simultaneously remade with the same cast and crew in Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada and Bengali and is titled Pages . “We might trim it down later but I want people to listen to those dialogues and the conversations to understand more about freedom in their lives.”

Meanwhile, the pre-production work of Ram’s ambitious project Nabhamsi in Sanskrit is also underway. With 18 tracks Nabhamsi is touted to be lyrical.. “Each track is significant to the story and we want to beautify the language so it’s taking a bit of time; hopefully it will be released by October.”

Ram says he loves cinema so much that he thrives on writing different stories. “I spend 90% of my life watching movies and thinking about them! I want to give shape to the tons of crazy ideas in my mind so that the narrative is appealing to both the common and intelligent man.”

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