Nature is his guru and he considers himself a life-long student of history. And with his latest offering,’Urumi’ a mega-budget costume drama to be released in four languages,acclaimed cinematographer and filmmaker Santosh Sivan is combining both.
Sivan,who calls himself a “non-ambitious filmmaker” says that he loves directing period pieces as the genre gives him the liberty to mix fact and fiction to create a world of his own vision.
“When I am making a film I am not thinking of money or fame,I am a very non-ambitious filmmaker that way. I want to make films about subjects that move me and I am fascinated by history. ‘Urumi’ is an attempt to take a second look at the glorified story of Vasco Da Gama,” the four-time National Award winning Sivan said in an interview.
The director who managed a casting coup for the film,starring Prithvi Raj,Genelia D’Souza,Prabhu Deva,Vidya Balan,Tabu and Amol Gupte said that ‘Urumi’ tells the story of the forgotten warriors of Kerala who braved death for freedom.
“History is written by the victors,the powerful who won. So was Da Gama a brave explorer or a invader after gold. The film is about a failed rebellion against the Portuguese that happened in the 15th century. I really love creating my own world through my films and period dramas give me that opportunity. Instead of trying to,so called realistically,recreate a room with a computer and a table and a chair I prefer to recreate a period in the past,with me adding my own details,” said Sivan whose previous outings as a director include films like ‘The Terrorist’,’Tahaan’ and ‘Asoka’.
But he did not make ‘Urumi’ just to indulge his imagination,says Sivan,adding that the film resonates with modern times where corporate lobbies are causing displacement of indigenous people across the world. “I have travelled across the world while shooting for films and documentaries and I have seen first hand the displacement and exploitation,the side effects of globalisation being suffered by the people who live in close contact to nature. The film centres around a similar situation,but it is removed by a few centuries,” said Sivan who is both director and cinematographer of the ambitious project.
The film was shot over a period of seven months in Kerala,Karnataka and Maharashtra and Sivan said that like all his films,nature is a character in itself in the film. “I have always maintained that nature is my guru and I always prefer shooting in locations over artificial sets. A part of ‘Urumi’ was shot in Malshej Ghat and the rain there was so beautiful,it set a beautiful backdrop to the drama in the film. All through the film,the various moods of nature signal the twists in the plot,” said Sivan.
The film which will be released in English,Hindi,Malayalam and Tamil,was recently a part of the Hong Kong-Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF) and has also caught the eye of Academy award winning filmmaker Oliver Stone. “I had met Stone while he was in Mumbai a few months ago and he was curious when he came to know that I was doing a film on Da Gama. We had a discussion about it and he wanted me to send him a copy once the film was done,” said Sivan.
When asked about future projects,the filmmaker said that he is now planning to take a small break so that he can spend time with his three-year-old son. “I have not really started work on anything. I am taking a small break now and I want to spend as much times at home with Appu,my son,” said Sivan.
‘Urumi’ releases across theatres in Malayalam on March 31.