The winner of this year’s National Film Award for best Kannada film, Thithi, is a tale of three generations reacting to the death of their 101-year-old patriarch, Century Gowda. Each generation has a different reaction to it. The ever wandering son of Gowda, Gadappa remains elusive while his son Thamanna tries to claim the property. Thamanna’s son Abhi is oblivious to all these materialistic pursuits and is busy pursuing a young girl. The three stories converge on Thithi (the 11th day after the death of a person). Bangalore-based Raam Reddy, 26, who has directed the film and co-written the script with his friend Eregowda, talks about his directorial debut, why he chose non-actors and his upcoming projects:
How did Thithi happen?
Eregowda, with whom I wrote the script for Thithi, is a friend. He was born and brought up in Nodokoppalu in Mandya district, the village where we set our film. We did our research after going there. Also, I always wanted to make a film across generations. So we decided to make a film in which a person dies and see how the whole story unravels. I was also quite keen on bringing realistic settings. The theme of this film was actually chosen to accommodate and connect all our research.
The film is set in a rural milieu but you have never lived in a village. How did you bridge that divide?
My experience of rural life is limited and to me, the village’s world was quite unique. Also, through my film, I wanted to introduce that part of the world from the perspective of an individual who was not a part of that world.
Tell us a bit about your journey as a filmmaker.
It began with a basic interest in poetry and photography. After I finished school, I studied Economics at Delhi’s St Stephen’s College. The environment there was intellectually stimulating and I started writing my novel, It’s Raining Maya. I, later, realised that direction, combined both music and writing, was the thing for me. Later, I went to Prague Film School for a year and that was how it all began.
You’ve written a book and directed short films. Where do writing and direction merge or do you think one is the extension of the other?
There is a difference in telling a story through these two mediums. A film is a technical translation process bringing the story to life using actors and techniques. In the novel, the images play in your mind. A novel is a purer medium where words go directly into one’s imagination. Direction is more creative and has a bigger scope.
Casting non-actors in your first feature film was a bit of a risk.
It was a risk. But the fact is that the camera supports this kind of a risk and the medium allows it too. Working with non-actors is so much more powerful and gratifying.
What are your upcoming projects?
I will touch upon magic realism in my next project. I want to see how it will translate onto the big screen.