Dr Biju wraps up his English film
The filmmaker talks about his upcoming English film Painting Life with a pan-Indian cast, which was shot in remote locations in the Northeast
Dr Biju has been keeping Painting Life on the back burner for the past four years. The reason? He just couldn't find the right terrain to place it in. He scoured various Northeast states in search of a remote, isolated locale for his subject. Finally, he got lucky and started canning his new film at the far-flung outskirts of Sikkim.
“Painting Life was expected to go on floors before Perariyathavar, but I just couldn't find a an ideal location. In between the films I used to travel exclusively for this purpose. The backdrop is an integral part of the storyline, so I didn't want to compromise on that,” says the director who has just wrapped up the film.
Painting Life revolves around a film crew who lands up in a remote place and what awaits them there. Just like his previous films, Painting Life will also explore a socially-relevant theme, says Dr Biju. “This film also addresses some social issues as it records an agitation in connection with a dam construction. At the same time, it's not an issue-focused film, rather it touches upon a number of such things,” he adds.
Coping with an unfamiliar geography and climate was the biggest challenge for the team while they shot in Sikkim. “The tribals and NGO workers were very helpful, yet the topography was a real challenge. Since most of the locations were distant interiors, there was no transport available. We had to walk five to six kilometres everyday,” he says. The temperature, which often dropped to subzero, was also an issue.
Another highlight of the film is its eclectic cast, featuring a spate of noted actors from various Indian states. “It may be for the first time you will see a pan-Indian cast as part of any film,” says the filmmaker. While Prakash Bare and national award-winning actor Geetanjali Thapa play the leads, Bengali actor Rithambari Chakrabarthi features in another key role. There are also many actors from the Northeast states, and the familiar faces for the Malayalam audience include Shankar Ramakrishnan and Krishnan Balakrishnan.
Though the original title was Painting Life, the film started rolling with the title The Director. “But then we were passing through these unseen parts of Sikkim with incredible scenic grace. The film is basically about the landscape, its beauty and its inhabitants. It just tries to paint their life and so we went back to the old title,” he says.