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Ten minutes to fame

Filmmaker Shailaja Padindala  

Memories of a Machine, a short film by filmmaker Shailaja Padindala, is doing the rounds in popular film festivals across India and abroad; Seattle South Asian Film Festival 2016 being the last stop. Surprisingly, the 10-minute film, which has been widely appreciated by those in the festival circle, was “actually meant to be a feature film,” says the director, a graduate from LV Prasad Film & TV Academy, Chennai.

But Shailaja did not get enough funds to direct the whole of the script, which “explores sexuality through human instinct”. No producer in the Kannada film industry was ready to fund a movie that did not have a hero and heroine, and the regular commercial elements featuring in it. Eventually, Apala Lahiri Chavan, president at Human Factors International (Middle East, Asia, Africa and Australia), offered to help.

“So the short movie is actually the first 10 minutes of the whole film,” she says. The video shows a woman, played by Malayalam actor Kani Kusruti, being recorded playfully on a camera. She is asked curious and intimate questions by the person video-recording her, about her sexuality. “All of it was taken in one shot, thanks to Kani (who has a Bachelors in Acting from Ecole Jacques Lecoq university, Paris) and director of photography, Sandeep P.S,” she says. While the script was written in Kannada, the Malayalam translation of it was used in the movie, solely for Kani’s comfort.

“A few people from middle-class society, to whom I showed the film, thought it was a scandal that had leaked online!” she says. The subject is bold and unconventional. “Before the release of the movie, I was expecting a much more shocking reaction from the audience. But surprisingly, more people are open to talk about it. Recently, I even screened it at one of the journalism colleges in the city, and the students came up with very interesting questions,” she says.

The film has been receiving good reception at film festivals, such as International Documentary and Short Film Festival of Kerala, Bangalore Queer Film Festival, ViBGYOR Film Festival, Chennai International Short Film Festival, and Kolkata Shorts International Film Festival — all this year. “There have been a lot of private screenings of the film as well. But I want to take it beyond the circle of festivals, and to the people. I want to gauge their reaction to the film,” she says.

Besides that, Shailaja strongly feels that anybody who has a story to tell should be able to tell it without worrying for funds. As a first step to that, she has started a Facebook page called Simply Shoot Maadona (the Kannada word for ‘Let’s do’). “I want people to get out of the mindset that they have to serve as assistant directors for a decade before turning directors, or only make a movie when they have producers funding their projects. This page will help directors crowdfund their projects,” she says. Shailaja is already planning her next feature film, with actor Kani again. This will be done on a shoestring budget, and will stand testimony to how best crowdfunding works, once it gets released.


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Printable version | Jul 23, 2021 7:30:31 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/Ten-minutes-to-fame/article16675476.ece

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