Luca, a marriage of contrasts
Director Arun Bose talks about making Luca, working with Tovino Thomas and Ahaana Krishna and learning to direct from his unreleased indie film Alaiyin Thisai
Normally, you expect a first-time director to be a bundle of nerves when the release date of their film is near. But Arun Bose, who is making his debut with Luca, is an exception. He is completely relaxed and confident. He attributes this to working with a good, efficient team and a group of open-minded producers. “Everything went like as per plan. In fact, we were able to finish it a few days ahead of schedule,” he says.
Though Luca is not technically his directorial debut—he made an unreleased indie film called Alaiyin Thisai (The Way of a Wave) before this—it is his first film to get a theatrical release. Making Alaiyin Thisai, he says, gave him all the knowledge he needed for a feature film. “It was my film school. We didn’t make the film to convince others, we did it for ourselves. It was made with the budget of just three lakhs and I funded the film from my own pocket, whereas Luca has a budget of above three crores. Alaiyin Thisai was done using guerilla filmmaking techniques—it was shot with a DSLR camera and there were only two members including me and Nithin George (actor) whereas, on Luca, we had a crew comprising more than 60 members. Now I’m familiar with both extremes.”
A Muvattupuzha native, Arun spent around 12 years in Hyderabad and Chennai before shifting to his hometown for good. Though he considers Luca his first big break, he says he would’ve gone ahead and made another film had the Tovino Thomas-starrer not happened. He believes that there is no right or wrong moment to do something. “If you keep waiting for the right resources or facilities, you won’t be able to make anything. You have to somehow find a way to make a film.”
Arun is of the opinion that being passionate about cinema alone isn’t enough. “It’s important to keep honing one’s skills. The same goes for actors. I’ve often seen aspiring actors tell filmmakers that they’ve been looking for a chance to act for five years. But I want to know what they’ve been doing in during that time. I expect them to regularly practise voice and breathing exercises and dance. That's the reason why I make all my actors do warm-up exercises before they begin their dubbing sessions,” he explains.
Luca, he says, is the kind of film that appeals to the moviegoer in him. “I’m drawn to emotionally haunting films. I also like musicals and colourful films. I’ve watched films such as Pappayude Swantham Appoose and Aniyathi Pravu so many times. They not only tugged our heartstrings but were also commercially successful. I wanted Luca to be both contemporary and old-fashioned, and there is also a fine balance between both commercial and artistic values.”
The film’s idea came from a string of thoughts that popped up in his head after he chanced upon a story in a magazine's issue while taking a stroll in Chennai’s Marina Beach. “It served as a jumping off point. Within two days, co-writer Mridul George and I came up with a summary, which we expanded later into a list of scenes.”
Arun is all praise for his actors, especially the two leads, Tovino, and Ahaana Krishna. “Both of them were so good at improvising their lines. All I had to do was narrate their scene and give short instructions. I gave them the freedom to come up with their own lines. There were several moments where I didn’t feel like interrupting their performance saying cut,” he says, adding that the female characters in the film are equally important as the male characters. “Luca will be a big break for Ahaana. Her performance will definitely be talked about. Her character is as significant as Tovino’s. She pulled off a 15-min monologue in a single take. Since we had to use flashback intercuts, we couldn’t retain the entire performance intact.”
He recalls how Vinitha nearly decided not to do the film after she got a leg injury. She was able to do it after the team found a way to work around it. “We realised that in the entire script, there is not a single scene where Vinitha has to stand. So that worked to our advantage.”
Luca comes out in theatres tomorrow.