Director on a tough call

R Sarath has completed his latest film, `Sthithi.' Making serious cinema is a real struggle for want of support from the industry as well as the Government, says the noted director.

``Looking back, I wonder how I managed to complete the film. Right from the start, neither the industry nor the Government had been helpful and I had to face a lot of obstacles due to this. Completing the film with a shoe-string budget was a tough task.''

The film has a contemporary theme. The focus is on a middle- class family, which is striving hard for survival.

The characters represent the common man who always has to bear the brunt of all social changes.

The latest upheaval is the one caused by the ongoing economic reforms, says Sarath. The reforms, the change of role of the Government from that of a provider to facilitator and consequences of availing of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) loan and the Government employees' strike figure prominently in the film. Getting clearance for shooting was the toughest job, says Sarath.

Permission was denied to shoot on the Secretariat and Central Jail premises.

``We had to shoot only the exterior of the jail. Despite repeated requests, permission was denied and the entire team was taken to Tirunelveli to shoot a couple of scenes. All our plans went awry and the expenses escalated,'' points out the producer, T.P. Abdul Khader.

The singer, Unni Menon, has played the lead with the Bengali artiste, Nandini Goswal. Unni has also scored music for the songs in the film. Protracted schedules and lack of planning often lead to drain of funds which is unaffordable for the producers of budgeted films.

Sarath has set a model worth emulating for serious film-makers.

He conducted extensive rehearsals of all the scenes for a week well ahead of the shooting.

This helped to save the production cost and time. Since Unni was a debutante actor and Nandini totally new to Malayalam, the rehearsals helped them to improve the quality of their performance.

``Now the effort is to take the film to the audience. Getting commercial release is an uphill task. Still, I hope someone would come to my help,'' says Sarath.

By Nair N J

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