Theatre of Dreams

Lucia,the first crowdfunded Kannada film,blurs the line between dreams and reality

Written by Sankhayan Ghosh | Published: September 6, 2013 12:22 am

There is a scene in Pawan Kumar’s Lucia,where a villainous character mocks the hero for bringing the ransom money all the way to an abandoned mill compound — proverbially,the villain’s den in movies where the final showdown takes place.”You could have just made monthly deposits,” he exclaims.

There are many such moments in Kumar’s film that winks at the changing times that the digital era have brought in; a film reel unspools at its own languid pace at a single screen theatre as it faces the threat of being demolished to make way for a multiplex,or the village versus city reference that runs through it. But all these are layers of a film,at the centre of which are dreams that are channelised through the movies.

“Today,a digital film projection room looks like a bachelor’s pad. There is just one projector and all you have to do is switch it on. He doesn’t know that he is actually projecting dreams on the screen. Unlike the days of celluloid,they hardly have any connection with the medium,” says Kumar,director of Lucia,a Kannada film that releases in this week’s PVR Director’s Rare in Mumbai,Delhi,Gurgaon,Pune,Chennai,Kochi,Bangalore and Hyderabad.

It’s an ambitious film,in terms of its budget: Rs 50 lakh. The story moves on three parallel tracks,creating a world where reality is blurred with dreams. Its protagonist is a movie hall usher who suffers from insomnia. He finds a way to escape the endless drudgery of his mundane life when he starts dreaming at night. In his dreams,he transforms into the mirror image of a Kannada movie-star,surrounded by women,money,fame and everything else he could ask for. There is a twist in the end that further enhances the dream-reality theme of the film.

Kumar’s inspiration for the story came through his own experiences: of waking up one evening to feel that his dream was real,and as a known actor,he was aware of the public gaze whenever he stepped out. These ideas found their way into the film.

“You initially enjoy the attention but then start hating the whole idea that people are looking at you all the time. That got me thinking about how it must be for a big star,for whom,a simple thing like eating street-food is a dream,” says the 30-year-old filmmaker who has written two films,directed one in Kannada and has acted in films as well.

“It is 50 per cent film and 50 per cent revolution,” says Kumar,who is among the new wave directors in Kannada cinema. Tamil and Telugu movies,followed by Bollywood fare,rule the box office there,making it difficult for the local talent to thrive. The degrading quality of Kannada mainstream films over the years too has created a huge disconnect with the urban youth.

“I hadn’t watched a Kannada film for about 10 years. It almost became a status symbol to say that I don’t watch Kannada films,” he says. With Lucia,Kumar hopes to bridge that gap. The film is being marketed as the first Kannada crowdfunded film,that raised the entire Rs 50 lakh budget through an active social networking campaign.”The contributors identified with my ideas,and earlier work,” says Kumar,who has done English theatre in Bangalore.

Actor Irrfan who attended the London Indian Film Festival 2013,missed the film’s screening there. However,he was very keen to watch the movie that had won the Best Film Audience Choice award.”Irrfan liked it when he watched it a few weeks back. Now,he is interested in remaking it in Hindi. Some producers have approached me for Tamil and Telugu remakes too,” he says.

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