Keedam addresses privacy violation: Rahul Riji Nair
The National award-winning filmmaker on his second collaboration with Rajisha Vijayan, which is expected to hit theatres in May
Filmmaker Rahul Riji Nair is back at trying a different genre yet again. After directing Rajisha Vijayan in the sports drama, Kho Kho, the National award winner has reteamed with her for a thriller titled Keedam. If the promos gave you the impression that the film has something to do with a computer virus threat, Rahul would tell you that that is far from the case.
"Rajisha plays a cybersecurity professional with her own firm, but Keedam deals with a troubling stalking incident and how she confronts it and the perpetrators," says Rahul in this chat with Cinema Express. "I wouldn't say she is an investigator either. It's more about how a privacy violation issue gets blown out of proportion and how it impacts her personal life."
Since cybersecurity professionals liaise with police professionals when legal and forensic matters are concerned, it's only natural to have a police character in the film; and who better than Vijay Babu to don the khaki. Sreenivasan plays another prominent character — a retired public prosecutor and Rajisha's father. "I would say Keedam chiefly revolves around the father and daughter: the former becomes involved when the latter is burdened by crisis," adds Rahul.
On his compulsion to make a film on the subject, Rahul explains, "Our private life is gradually changing; it's becoming minimal. You get a basic idea of one's life after browsing through the individual's photos and posts on social media. For instance, in the old days, our house used to be an intimate space. We are not conscious of privacy and whatnot when we take pictures of our home, but we realise later that we are making ourselves vulnerable to exposure."
With Keedam, Rahul intends to initiate a discourse on what happens when our privacy is breached instead of going the preachy route. "There's no attempt to bombard people with messages here, just asking thought-provoking questions; and, hopefully, using the film as a springboard for debates," he clarifies. "We are not telling people how to live. We merely want to show through Keedam that many things we thought weren't possible are doable, and it's scary!"
The idea for the film came to Rahul from some perspective-altering incidents that occurred in his life. "For a long time, I viewed these things with a lackadaisical attitude. It can happen to even someone who isn't active on social media. And we know that one or more members of our family have experienced cyberstalking in one way or another. Someone gets your number from somewhere and starts bothering you. And there are limitations in our system when it comes to handling such cases. Our film primarily asks whether we are well-equipped to handle this problem through a straightforward revenge thriller."
A real cybersecurity expert served as a consultant on the film from its scripting stage itself. The experience, says Rahul, was eye-opening because he got to see some myths about this subject shattered. "How can you not freak out when someone tells you that even an iPhone is not secure?" he laughs. "Or when you learn that the end-to-end encryption in WhatsApp doesn't mean much to people who are capable of breaking into it easily? You realise that all those promises are lies. I have been shown these things getting compromised. When I inquired about these 'security solutions', this consultant told me he was ready to bust all those myths for me. It's seemingly that simple, and it demands one to be more cautious."
Speaking on the storytelling approach, Rahul opted to depict the technical aspects authentically while not forgetting the cinematic possibilities the genre of the film opens up. "I had some fantastic inputs from Sreeni ettan, who gave me suggestions on presenting seemingly complex terminology more lucidly, while Rahul found a way to subtly depict elements of which most tech-savvy folks might be already aware. "As I said earlier, we don't get too psychological here. When prioritising the central conflict, we naturally have to touch upon aspects of the protagonist's profession — the ethics, to what extent one could or should go, social engineering, and so on.
As a film professional, does Rahul find social media use unavoidable? "Of course. It's difficult for people in our industry to do away with it fully. At least I have not reached that level yet. We need it at least for marketing purposes. For a film professional, total invisibility is, as you know, impractical. It's a necessary evil. But we need to acknowledge that some part of our lives is already compromised. However, we can also make things easy by limiting our use of it," he signs off.
Keedam is expected to hit theatres in May.