Nature, in all its glory – verdant, green and mysterious, is the hero of Anil Radhakrishnan Menon’s latest film, Lord Livingstone 7000 Kandi (LL7K). The frame in this film encompasses spaces vaster than before; the promos and trailer give the impression of Nature as an entity, of forests and adventure. And it is, he says.
Unlike North 24 Katham , which panned on one man’s journey, metaphoric and literal, and Saptamasree Thaskaraha, which pivoted around seven men and a heist, this film (LL7K) is about much more than a few people. Known for a brand of filmmaking that is unpredictable and different, it appears he has lived up to his reputation.
Cinema here, he says, is his tool of protest.
The only way he knows to express protest and, of course, be heard. LL7K is him raising his voice for Nature – against deforestation, against the abuse of its resources, the forests and its ecosystems.
Lord Livingstone 7000 Kandi is as unusual as the name of a film gets, in the vein of North 24 Katham and Saptamasree Thaskaraha with their play of numerals. He attributes it to a love for the letters of the alphabet and numbers. “I like numbers, there is something about them. Didn’t they make you curious enough to ask? 24 katham denoted the distance travelled and ‘seven’ or saptamam denoted the number of thieves – 7000 had magnificence to it. Initially I contemplated 71/2, but that didn’t convey that magnificence,” he says over the phone.
And about the rest of the name, Livingstone is a name he likes and kandi is a measure of land. “Not derogatory. It is around 25 hectares or 60-odd acres. 7000 Kandi is the name of the fictional village where the film is set.” This fictional village was a set created in the forest by art director Jothish Shankar, without causing too much harm to the flora and fauna of the forest, in keeping with the spirit of the film. Working with a set of this magnitude is a ‘dream come true’, he adds.
The film has the pattern of an Anil Radhakrishnan Menon film – a group of strangers drawn together by a common cause. What, therefore, ties a chemical engineer, an adventure junkie, a research analyst, a retired IAS officer, a street magician, a professor, a forest guide and one Philipose John Varkey? “The film is not about just eight characters. There are 100 plus people/characters in the film, and it is about all of them.” The cast includes Kunchacko Boban, Sunny Wayne, Chemban Vinod, Nedumudi Venu, Reenu Mathews, Sudheer Karamana, Jacob Gregory and Tamil actor Bharath. He refuses to reveal more than what the promos and the trailer have told us.
This much he will tell, “The film, though set in contemporary times, has several elements and traverses 500 years.” The idea, as with his other films, originated with one character – in this case the one essayed by Reenu Mathews. A chat with the actor led to the character, Madhumita, a research analyst, and “the plot and the environment evolved from that character.” The film is a fantasy; but given the audience response to ‘fantastic’ subjects, he says he hasn’t gone “overboard” with the fantasy part and kept it ‘real’.
Visual effects (VFX), crucial to the film’s narrative, have been executed by Cirqus, which comprises Varun and Dileep, who were on the visual effects team of Life Of Pi.
“The graphics are important to the narrative. Since there are censor board restrictions we cannot show too many wild animals, some of them are graphically generated,” he says. Despite his decade-long experience in the animation industry he wasn’t involved in this aspect of the film. The director of photography is a regular on his team, Jayesh Nair, “He avoids artificial lighting; the film has been shot in in natural light, in the light of the forest.”
Shooting in diverse locations/forests across Kerala and Tamil Nadu such as Wayanad, Idukki, Athirapilly, Vazhachal and Coimbatore, among others, “was tremendous. We spent around 40 days in the forests,” he says. It was a challenge, especially filming while taking care not to negatively impact the forest.
Anil is known to, what he calls, ‘carry forward’ actors and technicians, and Jayesh is one such. Nedumudi Venu and Chemban Vinod have been part of all his three films and for Reenu and Sudheer Karamana this is their second outing with Anil. “I am comfortable with them. They know my working style, their acting is realistic and organic and so I stick on to the same. As for the technicians – they are like a part of me.” The film is produced by Global United Media.
The background music is by Sushin Shyam and the promo song is by Pranav. Rex Vijayan has composed four songs.