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Krishnendu Kalesh’s debut Prappeda chosen for Rotterdam: ‘It’s an anti-war film, but doesn’t preach’

As Prappeda is all set to premiere at Rotterdam later this month in the 'Bright Future' category , Krishnendu Kalesh talks about his first movie and his vision as a filmmaker.

Written by Goutham VS | Kochi |
Updated: January 21, 2022 12:33:53 am
Krishnendu KaleshKrishnendu Kalesh's Prappeda deals with themes of war, migration and politics of hatred metaphorically. (Photo: Krishnendu Kalesh/Facebook Page)

Rotterdam Film Festival is a dream destination for filmmakers and Malayalam films have had a good run there. In 2017, Sanal Kumar Sasidharan’s Sexy Durga won the coveted Hivos Tiger award at the festival.  This year, four Malayalam films have been selected to Rotterdam under different categories.  Mahesh Narayanan’s Malik starring Fahadh Faasil, Rajiv Ravi’s Thuramukham starring Nivin Pauly, Chavittu directed by Sajas Rehman and Shinos Rehman, and Prappeda directed by Krishnendu Kalesh are the movies selected for this year’s festival.

Krishnendu Kalesh’s first movie Prappeda (Hawk’s Muffin) has been officially selected to be screened in the festival’s ‘Bright Future’ category.  The category is for films that have “original subject matter, and an individual style, representing the cutting edge of the contemporary filmmaking”.

Kalesh started as a designer in C-DIT (Centre for Development of Imaging Technology), and traces his passion for filmmaking to the time he first started watching world cinema at IFFK (International Film Festival of Kerala) in 2003. His passion gradually became his profession, with short film Karinchathan being his first work. A cinematic response to Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack in France, the film was critically acclaimed.

In his first feature film Prappeda, Krishnendu deals with themes of war, migration and politics of hatred metaphorically. The poster of the movie is enough to generate curiosity — it shows a girl walking across a misty waterfall, while Chinook helicopters – used by the US Army during their infamous wars in Vietnam, Iran, Afghanistan and Iran — fly overhead. In a conversation with indianexpress.com, Krishnendu Kalesh talks about his first movie Prappeda, his vision as a filmmaker and going to the festival.

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About Prappeda aka Hawk’s Muffin

Prappeda is basically an anti war movie. But it’s not preachy as the theme is treated metaphorically. There are surreal elements in the movie, and the narrative takes place in a dystopian future. The movie is set in an imaginary place 100 years from now where a few people live in a house in an isolated location. The movie centres around a girl who is the youngest member in that household and doesn’t know how the world functions or has a social life. The movie focuses on seven days in this adolescent’s life and the encounters she has.

Influences in Prappeda’s narrative style

I am basically a movie lover so I’m influenced by multiple narrative styles. For Prappeda, I have used a hybrid narrative technique. It has elements of narrative cinema, and in some portions you may feel the influence of art house cinema. Some portions are treated musically, and there are melodramatic instances also in this movie. I have thanked four filmmakers at the start of the movie including Georges Méliès, who can be considered as the magician of cinema and the one who introduced special effects in cinema; Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky; Hayao Miyazaki, who also made anti war movies from the perspective of children and Guillermo del Toro, director of The Shape of Water. In fact, I’ve used some elements from The Shape of Water in my movie also.

Why anti war movie?

War is a manmade phenomenon. It’s a result of boundaries created by man, or is it a conspiracy that teaches you from childhood to create an ‘other’ to hate. Even the concept of an enemy nation is a part of this conspiracy. I think mega wars that have happened or are happening around the world are happening inside our own homes at a micro level, which forms the crux of my movie. Partition, land encroachment, refugees — all these manmade concepts are broached in a subtle way in this movie. In short, Prappeda is a micro-level representation of the consequences of war.

I wrote an extended synopsis, which was used as the basic script for the movie. One of my friend is the producer/actor of this movie Jayanarayan Thulasidas .So I didn’t had difficulty in bringing the project to fruition.  The movie has been shot at a rubber estate, which was also arranged by my friends. Fortunately the people who worked in this movie are already working in different fields of the industry like editor Kiran Das, cameraman Manesh Madhavan, and actor Nithin and are quite experienced.

The use of VFX in the movie

As I’ve approached this movie personally, I didn’t need a script that details every minute thing, which helped improve the quality of this film. It has helped us improvise the cinematic language at many instances during post production, editing and VFX. We have made a character with VFX as well as the helicopters. The VFX is masterfully done by a freelance designer named Thoufeeq. We’ve got feedback that the VFX effects match international standards and it’s amusing that it is done singlehandedly by someone working from home.

On being selected to Rotterdam

Obviously I am excited to know the film got selected for Rotterdam. It’s a top ranked festival internationally, but what makes Rotterdam special is that it gives priority to experimental and uniquely conceived films. Also, what makes this more special is that Olaf Moller, an international film critic, saw the rough cut of my movie and suggested that it should be watched by programmers of Rotterdam film festival, which is a great recognition in itself.

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