13 May 2012

Interview with director Arun Kumar Aravind

I'm excited as I'll be seeing my name in the byline of a newspaper tomorrow morning after a long time. I'd submitted this interview a while back. But, it got delayed due to Newspaper Agents Strike.

Here is the unedited version:

'In the recent times', we may use this phrase in our day to day conversation but, it is different to conjure up a story depicting the contemporary society and training the camera on the social mores and bringing into open the things that are considered taboo and shooed under the carpet. This is what director Arun Kumar Aravind has done in his new film 'Ee Adutha Kaalathu'. The film depicts contemporary urban from every angle be it a child's or a septuagenarian’s, the vulnerability we all feel yet display a confident façade as if we are total control and nothing would go wrong however precarious our actions maybe.

The young director would rather like to call his film a “genre-mix” and not a multiple narrative film like last year's superhit 'Traffic'; “To start with, EAK (the abbreviation of the title) is not a multiple narrative movie. It has a straight narrative. Murali Gopy had made the detailed one-line script for this movie three years back, which means it was conceptualised in 2009. EAK, if you ask me, has a completely new narrative, which blends various story-telling techniques together. It is a genre-mix”, he says in a self assured manner. Further adding that “We never planned this movie, drawing inspiration from movies like ‘Traffic’, which were different in their own unique way. When I first heard the one-line from Murali, I was pretty sure that this movie was going to be completely different from what we have seen till now on the Indian screen”.

The script of 'Ee Adutha Kaalathu' is much discussed as it is structured as a Rubik's Cube telling the story of six people (or three couples) from different sections of the society beginning with rag picker portrayed by dependable Indrajith, his wife played by Mythili. Next come Murali Gopy as a Corporate Honcho type of guy running a multi-speciality hospital and his wife played by Tanushree Ghosh who had failed to make it big in Bollywood in her younger days. And, the oddest of them all being Anoop Menon, a modern day cop and Lena as a TV journalist, pretending to be the liberated woman of twenty first century with a host of other minor characters. At first the narrative seems to be scattered as the pieces of a cube. They start to fall in place at the end of first half. The Cube is even an intrinsic part of the story, which is solved in the end with a hurrah. The director explains the logic behind this: “We have used the Rubik’s Cube not literally but subtly in the movie. The only point where it gets literal is when we give the quote at the beginning of the movie explaining the Rubik’s Cube and how it has similarities with the lives that we lead on this planet. Beyond that, it is all subtle pointers. And if you look closely, you can see that the dramatic progression of the movie is akin to the solving of a Rubik’s Cube”.

The film also becomes a visual documentation of contemporary urban living, not only on the surface but also the psychology sketches of the characters tackling taboos like a stressed out man trying hard to hide erectile dysfunction, casual extra-marital flings and the flourishing industry of making sleazy video clips using hidden camera to feed the internet. One would be really curious find if the team was apprehensive that these things could have alienated the family audience, “We were not apprehensive but we were a bit nervous, because of the amount of repression that we, as a population, have, in this part of the world. But since this movie is all about telling our stories in a sincere way, we were pretty sure that it would have its connect with the audience”, says Arun.

Arun was a visual effect expert who then turned to editing before taking up direction, yet both his directorial ventures 'Cocktail' and 'EAK' are stories requiring minimal technical glitz, “I don’t believe in on-screen gimmicks, for the sake of it. I am very particular about this. I believe that even a small movement of the camera must be dramatically justified”.

'Ee Adutha Kaalathu' marks the second coming of Murali Gopy as a writer after a long gap. So, to end the talk on a lighter note you ask Arun how much credit should the writer get for the success of this film? “In this movie, content and narrative is the hero. So, I give full credit to the writer. I, however, would pat myself for sensing the possibility of such a subject and scripting style”, he says with a wink
In fact, the writer and the director have bonded so well during the making of this film that they have locked not one but two projects working as a team.