Rahul Riji Nair: Dakini will be different from Ottamuri Velicham
With his usual childlike enthusiasm, the filmmaker sits down with Cinema Express to discuss his upcoming film, Dakini, and the reception to small-scale films in Kerala.
Though his first film Ottamuri Velicham hasn't received a theatrical release yet, Rahul Riji Nair has already finished filming his second film, Dakini, which he says will be a more light-hearted entertainer despite having a fresh and unconventional narrative.
Dakini's main cast has no big names to boast of. Sarasa Balussery and Sreeletha Sreedharan (who played the two ummas in Sudani from Nigeria), Ee Ma Yau-fame Pauly Valsan and Sethulakshmi play a group of adventurous sexagenarians with a nothing-to-lose attitude. After an unpleasant encounter with a don (played by Chemban Vinod Jose), they prepare for payback.
In terms of genre and tone, Dakini and Ottamuri Velicham are diametrically opposite, says Rahul. "After my first film, I thought of doing something more fun. Ottamuri Velicham had a tight and gripping narrative where you had to follow a certain rhythm. There was no room for improvisation, whereas in the case of Dakini, we were able to try out different things."
Rahul praises the four actors for their resilience. "These ladies were game for anything. And this film has songs, dances and even fights. I was astonished! Unlike us men who can get lazy at times, they were full of vigour, despite their age. I never saw them complain about anything. If we needed retakes, they were ready to do it. And we shot in Ooty, of all places (laughs)."
Despite winning four State awards, Rahul is planning only a limited theatrical release for Ottamuri Velicham, along with a simultaneous online release. "With an online release, you know that the film will reach more eyes. I don't see the point in wasting so much money to release an award film in theatres. Once your film wins some awards, people are reluctant to go near it. Though Ottamuri... isn't exactly an award film; it's a thriller."
Rahul feels that an alternate distribution system is needed to promote smaller films. "Most people are not willing to see such films in the theatres. If you look at the collection, 90 per cent of the independent films don't break even. This is the reality we are dealing with right now. The audiences, filmmakers and theatres should get together and come up with an initiative. I don't expect things to change very soon. It may take a few years."
Ottamuri Velicham recently won Best Film at a German film festival. Rahul says he was humbled by the response he received there. "The award completely took me by surprise given the fact that it was a highly cinema literate audience. They knew each and everything about me and my work. During the Q & A session, the questions they asked me were so intelligent and thought-provoking."
Dakini is produced jointly by Universal Cinemas and Urvasi Theatres and distributed by Friday Film House.