ORIGINALLY WRITTEN AND POSTED FOR PASSIONFORCINEMA.
Driving as fast as I could in the treacherous NYC traffic last Thursday I was thinking as hard as I could as to what I would have done if I were to remake Dombivilli Fast, that too in a language of which I knew all but 2 words. How would I even start to write the change in characters or change the sensibility to suit my target audience? How would I even trust the characters when I cannot understand them while they are giving a shot? How would I make it work? What would I have to face?
Nishikant Kamat is a director shows you lot less than what he is. He is fun to be with, very very personal and probably the most chilled out person I have met with lazy being the other very apt adjective. He is patient, loves to shop for shoes and his immediate desire is to spend a month traveling in the US without having to work. But all this completely is lost once you start watching his cinema or when he begins to talk about it. You are transported to a world where the characters are serious, devoid of all the entrapments that a writer/director normally imbibes in his stories which stem from his own persona and his own way to look at things. His cinema up to now is as real to life as it can get and one great way to know or understand his cinema is to not hold him to a higher moral standard that you would otherwise put a person when you see his/her work.
I will not review Evano Oruvan as I have stopped myself from so many times in the last six months about doing the same with Dombivilli Fast. I have had the opportunity of seeing both the films with the director beside me my view will be too biased as I have grown to understand the director’s view-point in both the works. Rather, I will take you through an evening that will all in sum up a lot about Nishi and his work so far.
Not everyday do you get to watch an actor like Madhavan putting up the posters for his own film, nor do you get a chance to see him under so much pressure when doing something that is right but Evano Oruvan is an effort that Madhavan is truly proud of and will do all it takes to make sure it deserves the respect that it deserves. October 25th saw the NY preview of the movie at Imagine-Asian in NYC which was a corporate event and a portion of the local Tamil population were invited to see the movie and ask both the actor and director a few questions about the film and gorge on the so missed South-Indian cuisine.
After the initial autograph/photo session and the mandatory star-event delay, the screening began with the audience quietly settling down with a feeling of pride of owning the star in front of them for a good time now. Mind you, the audience were all proud owners of overtly expensive college education so the setting prompted a befitting QnA session and almost everybody being intellectual and in 10,000 miles of solving the problems that are so definitively shown, the quality if discussion was no doubt of the better standard.
All this while the director was little noticed and in his own style stayed so close to the shutter-bugs yet enjoyed the most in the arena. He was walking around with no expectations as the accolades that he wanted were rightly handed to him quite a while back and he was confident of his work. He knew his time in the sun will eventually come and was in no hurry to go look for it. Sitting outside with him, see him twitch his hand at every chord of the background music and see him internally visualizing the scene was back-ground music 101 for me, something that has become a commonplace, thanks to PFC. Have you ever stood outside a theatre and have heard the entire film taking in every sound that comes from behind the closed doors? Try it sometime, it’s an experience!
I did not sit through the whole movie. Just watched the first half. I love Dombivilli Fast, absolutely. It’s my comprehensive guide to in your face story-telling. Like most, I grappled with it for a while, debated it, questioned it and in the end after repeated viewings through numerous POV’s with the understanding that the person who wrote it is someone who I can be completely myself with and therefore will not make me/think of me as a fool, I silently began to digest it.
With the cameras in place, so began the QnA for which almost all the audience stayed back. I thought the final chance to see and trick the actor would not be easily let away by the desi population of NYC and in thinking, I settled into my ever condescending posture. What the audience did stumped the bejesus out of me. Beginning after Madhavan’s insistence to go all out for the director, the questions kept coming for him one after another. After the routine of how you made the film in a language you don’t understand to what made you choose Madhavan for the role, the biggies started.
One Lady quizzed the style of Nishi’s making the movie for being so contrary to the human spirit to another one totally discarding the climax. And for the audience’s surprise, Nishikant Kamat, the writer/director, debutant National award Winner, was just warming up.
Evano Oruvan is a movie about the common man. The premise is simple – the magnanimity of how much an average middle-class Indian can forgive and adjust just to live a basic respectable life. The banality is humbling and the film pays its tribute to it in its own way. That done, the story moves on to what happens when the will to take things lying down breaks? From then on the story moves on seamlessly until the writer can bring the most logical conclusion to his protagonist’s actions.
No apologies are offered to the course taken and the director takes no special obligation to offer the ONE solution to solve all of the country’s problems, or sermonize the masses to follow his footsteps. No one action is premeditated when concerning the lives of a family and neither does a law-abiding ever accommodating middle-class white collar employee resort to violence when provoked but the chances of that happening are indeed ever-present and the story deals with it. Questioning the path chosen by the writer to present the evils of the society is like questioning the point of making the movie in the first place but question the outcome and you shall be obliged.
That was precisely that happened and Nishi took the audience head-on to answer ever thing that was thrown at him. He took the time to explain all the scenarios that he had for the climax’s and eliminated one after the other to show everyone of his vision. After the applause came the smarter questions. The perspectives of the main cast were digressed and Madhavan took the time too to explain his understanding of the movie. Foreign correspondents (paradox!) not familiar with the Indian sentiments begged to why the better halves were treated to be out of sync with the male protagonist’s angst and were clinically blown away by the directors answer explaining the Indian psyche prevalent to keep up to only one’s domains and forget the country and society. The movie in reality when digressed to such a level does offer multiple POV’s, each justified in their own way but for a first time viewer, discerning it all will take time.
The director took the bows of the appreciative audience and the count of the stars doubled up in the auditorium. What followed them was intense discussion among the audience over dinner with every minute point of the film being discussed. As the Vadas and Vodkas started going down, the discussion about the film grew animated with a whole lot of problems of Indian society and lifestyle being tossed around to the beat of the Manhattan Indian Salsa. Did the film ask too many questions with no answers given? Is the story too uninspiring and lack luster of the grandeur of the “savior of society” movies that we are so used too? Did the director not have the “moral imperative” to get his act together and lead the viewers to sanity? Similar to a lot of questions being asked over the last weekend here at PFC…
To all the questions, the answers are more or less simple. It is firstly, cinema. It’s a way to communicate and the writer did it well. The discussion has been generated and the audience is thinking. The director has accomplished his task. The performances are to the ‘T’ and its now up to the audience to digest it and move on. Will the film work with the masses or not is a question that will take sometime to be answered, but Nishikant is for sure not fazed by it.
Madhavan on his part played the host very well and I was a little humbled when he asked me to shoot a few pics for him. I have to accept that I did not talk to him at length because there was not much to speak to begin with. He was cordial throughout and as a first time producer/distributor is doing all that it takes to give Evano Oruvan, the needed visibility. Shooting a quick interview at the busy Times Square after mid-night in the October chill is a testament to it.
All in all, another evening with Nishi Bhai in NYC where he never disappoints me. I have a few scores to settle with him in the near future about which I will for sure write on PFC when the time is write but for now, wait up for Evano Oruvan – its simply good cinema. And for all the Dombivilli Fast fans out there, you have to watch this – Madhavan did make the difference.
Referenced here too… 🙂