'Porattam' led to 'Allu Ramendran': Director Bilahari K Raj on the Kunchacko Boban starrer
Porattam, caught the attention of many actors and filmmakers, and eventually paved the path for his big break: he'll be directing none other than Kunchacko Boban in a film titled Allu Ramendran.
Bilahari K Raj didn't expect in his wildest dreams to be a big-time director some day. The Angamaly native attracted a significant amount of attention last year for pulling off the impossible -- making a film for just Rs. 25,000! Needless to say, this film, Porattam, caught the attention of many actors and filmmakers, and eventually paved the path for his big break: he'll be directing none other than Kunchacko Boban in a film titled Allu Ramendran. The film's first-look poster was released recently.
Bilahari says the shoot will begin in August. "Right now I'm looking to fill up the rest of the cast. The audition process is in full swing. We have been getting plenty of responses." He describes Allu Ramendran as a comedy thriller and a family entertainer.
"One of the highlights of this film is that Chackochan (Kunchacko Boban) will be seen in an all-new avatar. He'll have a unique look and demeanour. Apart from Kunchacko Boban, Premam fame Krishna Shankar will be playing the other lead. The rest of the cast is being finalised. We are trying to find as many people we can through the audition but we will approach seasoned actors as well."
Bilahari fondly recalls his experience with Porattam. "That was a time when we were working on something else and it didn't work out, which got me all depressed. So we thought of doing the least expensive film ever made. But the problem with this 'destitute' filmmaking is that nobody will regard your work as cinema. They're going to ignore it. So, how do we make a film that can grab people's attention in spite of its minimal budget? We brainstormed some ideas. And the only way to accomplish that is by marketing it in a unique way. I decided early on that we have to be genuine in our approach."
Bilahari says he was fortunate enough to have a tight-knit group of friends who stood by him. "I gathered my friends and asked if they're all willing to do this. We only had food expenses. The camera belonged to the cameraman Sreeraj Ravindran. He also had a helicam. As he was a disciple of Rajiv Menon, I was confident that he would deliver high-quality work. All of us, including the writers, operate on the same wavelength. We have been working with each other for a long time."
Was there anyone who told him he couldn't do it. "Here's what I did. After finishing the shoot and edits, I went to work as chief associate director on a film called Lilli. It's only after I'd finished working on that film did I announce that 'something' is on the way. Everyone came to know about this only later."
Bilahari never imagined that he would be able to make a proper feature one day. "What happened to me was completely unexpected. I used to tell myself that this isn't going to work out or that I won't be able to do this. And then something unexpected happened. I began to notice the opportunities around me. This gave me the confidence to go ahead with Porattam."
However, he and his team had a great time making Porattam, regardless of their limitations. "We did not struggle or anything. We used to shoot a little, sleep in the afternoons and then wake up and shoot the rest. We were very relaxed, making jokes and having so much fun. There were no nights shoots and we didn't use any artificial light. It was all natural. Our cameraman also doubled as the art director. The entire shoot was completed in just 16 days and we did it well. It was on the strength of Porattam that Bilahari was able to approach someone like Kunchacko Boban. "If Porattam hadn't happened, Allu Ramendran wouldn't have happened. It was my 'pitching' movie."