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Through a new lens

Through the Lens The film is a voyeuristic take on life

Through the Lens The film is a voyeuristic take on life  

Jayaprakash Radhakrishnan’s film 'Lens' looks at the complicated world of voyeurism on the internet; the film will be screened at BIFFES

A hostage drama set in the world of video-chat rooms, where a suicide is played out live. Pretty complicated stuff. But Tamil actor Jayaprakash Radhakrishnan’s Tamil-English film Lens is beginning to make small waves at film festivals in India, with its contemporary take on voyeurism. The film has largely been shot live on webcams!

“The idea of the story was born while I was Skyping with my acting teacher one night over a drink. I learned acting from J.D. Coburn in Seattle, while I was working as a software engineer in the U.S.A. a few years back. We were talking about making films using digital cameras, cellphones etc. We were discussing the possibility of making films using the webcam too. That triggered this idéa – ‘What if I commit suicide now, ‘Live’? And I force you to watch it’?”

Jayaprakash learnt acting from Seattle Acting School (now Playhouse Northwest). He worked in the software industry for 10 years, before calling it quits and returning to India to pursue a career in acting. He landed supporting roles films like in Urumi and Yennai Arindhaal.

Two years after the discussion with his mentor, Jayaprakash had finished his first script to be directed by a friend; it did not happen. Frustrated, he decided to write a script that he himself could produce/direct and act in; it was a rather bold subject and no producer was coming forth.

The film stars Bengaluru girl Ashwathy Lal, Anandsami, and Misha Ghoshal, apart from Jayaprakash. Suresh S. Kumar, the film’s assistant director, is a graphic designer from Bengaluru. Suresh, who completed his direction course from Magic In Motion in the city in 2002, was looking for a film to assist on, before striking out on his own, when Jayaprakash’s script came by and he jumped on board.

The story of Lens revolves around Aravind who gets a ‘friend’ request from Nikky, a complete stranger. He accepts the request and they begin to video-chat. But she has a bizarre request — to commit suicide, while Aravind watches live. Does Aravind have a choice? “What you do behind closed doors is open to all these days,” observes Jayaprakash. “I decided to explore voyeurism. The cyber world is wide open and I got enough material that my story needed, online. A book on the theory of story writing called Dramatica , and screenwriter John Truby were good reference points.”

“The film is a hostage drama set in the world of video-chat rooms. Thematically the story revolves around lust and voyeurism in the digital world and its consequences. The film was shot live, while the actors lived their parts over Skype,” says Jayaprakash. And that was the most difficult part, says the director. Art director V.R.K. Ramesh and cinematographer S.R. Kathir (who shot Subramaniapuram) worked hard to coordinate the actors at two different locations, who were connected through Skype. “There were three cameras operating at the same time — two web cameras and one main camera at one of the locations. Action had to be coordinated across locations. Internet speed was not that great and the dialogues sometime reached with a delay. Slow connections did delay the shoot a lot,” is what the director says of some of the bigger challenges.

The film has been garnering interest with Jayaprakash winning the Best Writer award for the film at the Bioscope Global Film Festival, Delhi. It’s selected for the Chennai International Film Festival 2016 in the Indian Panorama section, and the Pune International Film Festival 2016 in the Indian Cinema Section. More recently, Lens made it to the Indian Cinema Competition section in the 8th Bengaluru International Film Festival (Biffes), set to begin on January 29.

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Printable version | Apr 9, 2020 2:32:56 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/Through-a-new-lens/article13995945.ece

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