Why do you think a group of young Bengaluru architects are rejoicing? Not an award for one of their best designed projects, but global appreciation for a well-made short film in Kannada, Nooru Rupayi (‘Hundred Rupees’) with English sub-titles.
The 20-minute film, directed by architect Prashanth Raj of Arch Venture in Sanjaynagar, has been selected to be screened at the Washington DC South Asian Film Festival on September 27, after bagging the Runner Up Award at the 5th Bangalore International Short Film Fest last month, and Special Awards at Mumbai, Calcutta, and UK Short Film Fests earlier.
Nooru Rupayi , with a budget of Rs. 2 lakh, was made by Prashanth Raj (director), Shilpa Patel (art director), Nitin (cinematographer), Guruswamy (Editor) along with the production team Raghav, Abhilash Pallaki, John Joseph, and Pramod Chandru (sound recording) and Abhijeet (music) — architects and engineering professionals who have a passion for films beyond their drawing board. The film, which revolves around a message to stand up against corruption and make a social change, was conceived and written by Prashanth, whose passion for “short films with a strong message” became easier after he took up a course at the Indian Institute of Moving Images.
The film took nearly four months to shape up, and has been entirely shot in the pastoral Thimmanahalli near Tumakuru, at the Chikkanayakanahalli hamlet, a four-hour drive from Bengaluru. “While I was raring to handle this subject of corruption revolving around a story of ‘puppy love’, a struggling village family and socially relevant issues of corruption that seem an accepted norm, it is the protagonist primary school boy Arvind’s (played by Srinivasa Murthy) early realisation of the gloom of dishonesty that makes him comprehend the power of the Hundred Rupees which sports Gandhi on it. When the young are made to realise that straightforwardness and sincerity maketh a good man, it’s a strong message,” says Prashanth.
The film’s endeavour is not just in its message, but the team’s effort in having the entire cast of 25 taken raw from the innards of Thimmanahalli. “We went to the village to uncover bundles of raw talent during child auditions. Finding a lady for the mother’s role was a challenge as local conservative women shied away from the camera. Our acting coach, John Joseph, helped them overcome inhibitions,” says Prashanth.
The film’s aesthetics also brings in Karnataka’s folk Veeragase showing intense energy-sapping dance movements to represent expressions of conflict and resolution for the young hero. That Prashanth is interested in his potent message is evident when you consider that his first short film Psycho’s Jury — which brings out the travails of an architect to practice what he preaches — bagged the Indian Institute of Architects Award.