The Mosquito Philosophy was born out of sheer frustration: Jayaprakash Radhakrishnan
The filmmaker talks about his sophomore film, The Mosquito Philosophy, that is currently streaming on cinemapreneur.com
Mumblecore. Dogme 95. These are terms I quickly read about before my interview with Jayaprakash Radhakrishnan, the director of The Mosquito Philosophy (TMP). While mumblecore refers to a film subgenre that is characterised by naturalistic acting, dialogues, low-budget film production and more emphasis on dialogues than plot, Dogme 95 was a 90s filmmaking movement started to wrest power from the studios and transfer them back to filmmakers. More relevantly for this interview, these were terms associated with Jayaprakash’s film, in reviews and why, even in the MUBI description of the film. “Even I learned about these terms only now, after the film’s release,” says Jayaprakash, laughing.
What then prompted the filmmaker to make a film without screenplay, dialogues, and rehearsals, and one that was shot in just six hours in his own house? “Frustration,” he says. “The idea was born out of creative frustration. After my directorial debut, Lens, I found it tough to get a producer for my second film. I couldn’t find funding; I couldn’t get a star. Everything was frustrating. So, I made this film to let some steam off.” The film’s protagonist, Suresh, a friend of Jayaprakash’s, swung by for a drink. “I randomly decided to shoot something with him the next day,” says Jayaprakash, who went on to bring in a few friends and family members as part of the cast and crew of this film that premiered at the Dhaka International Film Festival, and is currently available as a PPV product on cinemapreneur.com.
The Mosquito Philosophy, as one can imagine, is a largely improvised film. “I knew the outline of how I wanted my film to proceed. As I was shooting with friends and family, the rapport was there. We switched on the camera and recorded as much as I wanted. The characters got actual phone calls, food was delivered, and I just captured everything. Nothing was planned.”
Despite this chaotic way of filming, The Mosquito Philosophy does deal with something pertinent, with the film beginning when a 40-year-old invites his friends for his marriage with a 25-year-old. This has a snowball effect of conversations among his friends as they dissect the pitfalls of marriage and the perceived persecution of men after marriage. It might well have come through as a 70-minute rant about marriages, but there is a lot of subtext if you look close enough. “I only stick to the truth of the moment. We didn't worry about how the audience would react to the subtext. However, when you keep it real and truthful, people can have different interpretations,” says the filmmaker, who braced for a lot of negative responses. “And some did call it a waste of time and labelled it as an amateurish attempt. However, when the film was screened in the competition section of the Chennai International Film Festival alongside films like Soorarai Pottru, I was shocked at the positive reactions. Some even told me that they felt motivated to follow their passion and dreams,” says Jayaprakash, beaming with pride.
The filmmaker believes that now is the time for aspiring filmmakers to put their content out there, given the rising number of available platforms for such work. “Earlier, the lifetime of a film was restricted only to its theatrical run. It is no longer the case. Even today, I get calls and messages about Lens. All a filmmaker needs is courage. Go out there, make your film, put it up on a platform you have access to, and if you are lucky, it might become viral,” says the filmmaker, who accepts social media as a necessary medium right now. “Samuthirakani sir released the film on Mubi. Soori retweeted it. Visibility and attention are important. Attention is a big commodity now. People with followers are more valuable in this ecosystem. I can't comment on the importance of such a system, but within this framework, social media becomes important.”
In his first film, Lens, Jayaprakash dealt with the ills of the internet, but he doesn’t believe that it’s the job of a filmmaker to deliver messages. “However, I do believe that ideas that affect a filmmaker must be communicated through films. And sure, cinema can impact the psychology of people, but if there has to be a perceptible change in society, I'm not sure cinema is the way to go. It comes from books. Look at the mass following religions command!” says Jayaprakash. “In cinema, great actors with followers can cause social changes, only when politics is employed as a medium. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.”
For someone who created two films out of “sheer frustration”, Jayaprakash is calmer as he sets out to make his third. “The film is in the works already. It will be a village-based film that I will be directing and not acting in.” And no, he is not frustrated anymore, he says. “It feels nice to be happy and calm for a change,” he signs off, with his characteristic hearty laugh.