Sunday, December 09, 2007
Evano Oruvan - A Tamil Indie film's Commercial viability
First of all, this is not a movie review although I'll write a little about the film itself as part of the film watching experience. Surprising and intriguing - are the words that best describe what I felt. Being an indie film fanatic myself, I couldn't bear some reactions to 'Evano Oruvan'. Context: Matinee show of the film in Pondicherry, 3rd day from release. Tons of people arrived at the almost 1000-seated theater, say about 95% of the seats had butts in them. Multiple reasons for the crowd - Sunday afternoon, Madhavan starrer, etc.
Personally, I went because the director Nishikant Kamat is a friend of mine whom I had met at Los Angeles at IFFLA when our film 'Men of Burden - Pedaling Towards a Horizon' had its world premiere in April 2006. And also because I had seen the Marathi version of the film(Dombivli Fast) which had garnered several international awards and wanted to see how the Tamil version had shaped up.
The film was pretty much the same in terms of its delivery like its Marathi version but I felt it a little lacking in the narrative and the dialogue was a little less audible with the other dominating sounds. (btw, Sangeetha's hot as hell) One of the thoughts that struck me was the reaction of the regular Tamil-movie-going population that made me think as the movie went along. For the fact that it was a break from the regular song-and-dance movie, I wanted the people to love the film because I personally believe in the power of the indie film to make one think as opposed to the factory churned movies by the Tamil/Hindi film industry. I wanted the indie filmmaker to succeed commercially, so bad. Every scene I wanted people to sit back quietly and listen to the dialogue and think, and look at the lighting and enjoy the subtleties of the scene and the composition. Those things never happened.
But most of my expectations were shattered when many in the audience were jeering at the 'monotony' of the film. People were talking on cell phones, letting their phones ring, not paying attention to the meaning of the film, some even chatting and shouting that they were gonna get out, because there were no songs and fights and 'slow-mo' intros of the hero. For a few moments, I was irritated at their indifference to such a film but what could I do, the minority that I am, in the world where people go to the movies to fulfill their escapist fantasies. So I'm still wondering what is the world that I am living in, that is, with my sensibilities as an indie filmmaker and supporter with international cinema as my study guide...I'm left thinking where is that balance between art and commercial cinema. Ahh, the cliched question.
And this, especially at a stage where I'm leaning towards commercial viability but still can't tear away from the indie scene. It's a tough road to be on.