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Meet the Gollapudi Srinivas award winner

Last updated on: March 26, 2012 12:34 IST

Meet the Gollapudi Srinivas award winner

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Shobha Warrier in Chennai

Madhav Ramadasan, director of the much acclaimed Malayalam film Melvilasom (Address) has won this year's prestigious Gollapudi Srinivas national award for debut director.

Melvilasom, based on a play of the same name by Soorya Krishnamurthy is a bold experiment in Indian cinema with the entire film being shot on one set with only male actors and without any song and dance.

The film was selected for the Indian Panorama at this year's International Film Festival of India, Goa, and also at the Busan International Film Festival.

An excited Ramdasan talks about winning the award.

When did you come to know you had won the award?

On March 16, I got a call from one of the jury members, Kavithalaya Krishnakumar, to say they had decided to give this year's Gollapudi Srinivas award for debut director to me.

It was rather unexpected. Not even in my wildest dreams was I expecting the news.

Then, Singeetham Srinivasa Rao, the jury chairman, spoke to me. He spoke highly of the film and asked me how I had the courage to make a film that had only one set.

What more do I need to hear from such a great film maker? Only then did I get the feeling that I have done something worth talking about. The other jury member, Latha Menon, told me they selected Melvilasom after watching 23 films.


Image: A scene from Melvilasom


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'The jury chose Melvilasom after watching 23 films'

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What is the selection process? Did you know that it was in the race?

Yes, they had first collected details of interesting films made in India. Then they contacted the film makers and asked them to send a DVD. I was also contacted and I had sent a DVD.

Were you hopeful of winning the award then?

Not at all. Everything connected with this film happened accidentally in my life.


Image: A scene from Melvilasom

Tags: DVD , Melvilasom , India

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'As a child, I was not exposed to films at all'

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Did you come to films also accidentally?

I grew up in a small village in Kerala in a very ordinary family. We were not exposed to films at all. We never went to the cinema.

My only connection with films was when as an eight or nine-year-old I and my friends would collect small films discarded in the theatres and project them on a wall. We even used to record dialogues and play it along with these images.

On looking back, that was my introduction to films. I didn't know how this desire came into my mind as our family had nothing to do with films.

How did you pursue it?

I didn't know how to pursue it except that in my mind, I knew I wanted to make films. More than story telling, it was the technique of film making that attracted me then.

Without completing my graduation, I joined a private institute in Trivandrum to learn film making. I thought once I passed out, I would be able to start making films. I didn't know what was in store for me!


Image: A scene from Melvilasom

Tags: Kerala

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'Meeting National award-winning director R Sarath was a turning point'

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What awaited you?

It was a very long wait, full of struggle. As I got no opportunity to be a part of films, I joined a private firm. But I couldn't concentrate on my work. My mind was full of wild thoughts and visuals.

The turning point in my life was meeting the National award winning director R Sarath.

He was making an audio visual CD of Geeta Govindam for Indira Gandhi National Centre for Art in Delhi. He asked me whether I would be interested in going to Delhi and working on it. I jumped at the idea. It was a huge project that lasted one-and-a-half years.

How did working on Geeta Govindam help you later as a film maker?

I am glad that my beginning was with an epic like Geeta Govindam. It was also my introduction to the technicalities of film making.

I got to learn how to edit well; in fact, everything about post-production work. Even today, the post-production table gives me a lot of excitement.

When I think of a film, I first think what I can do at the post-production stage. 


Image: A scene from Melvilasom


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'Through Sarath Sir, I was exposed to serious cinema'

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Did your association with Sarath change your outlook to cinema as he is known to be an offbeat filmmaker?

Yes, it did. It changed my concept of cinema.

Till then, I was exposed only to the regular commercial films. But through Sarath Sir, I was exposed to serious cinema. I understood that cinema was not just to entertain peop#8804 it should make people think.

I started thinking of ideas that had some relevance to society. I also felt if I were to make films, I should do it differently. I was with him when he made a documentary on murals and also the film Sayahnam. I was more fascinated to do the post production work than the real shooting. Sayahnam won Sarath Sir the Indira Gandhi National Award for debut director.
After that, I wanted to make a film on my own.

That was how Melvilasom happened...

No, no... it took several more years for my dream to come true. I worked on a project for more than a year and then it did not happen. There was financial difficulty also. Still I pursued my dream.


Image: A scene from Melvilasom


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'It took five years to make this film'

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What was it about the play Melvilasam that appealed to you?

I had heard about it from some of my friends and decided to go and just watch it. After watching it once, I was drawn to it. I watched it again and again.

I asked Murthy Sir whether I could make a film on it. He said, he made the play for Mammootty and I should find out whether he would be interested in acting in the film. But he was very busy.

Murthy Sir then said, I should not tamper with the story by adding flashback, characters, songs, dances, etc. I agreed, as that was not my intention.

How long did it take to turn it into a film?

It took five years to finally make this film! I was told by many that if the film looked like a drama, my career as a film maker would end but I was ready to take the risk.

From where did you get the courage to take the risk?

May be my conviction in the play. It really shook me. Here, I must thank my parents and family for tirelessly supporting me during those five long years. Without their support, I would not have made Melvilasom.


Image: A scene from Melvilasom


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'Talks are on for the film's Hindi remake'

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What did you do so that the film didn't look like a play?

I gave more importance to expressions, silence and sound. I made use of even the most minute expression of every artist.
I edited the film at least three times. I was very conscious of the kind of sound we were going to use. Also, I didn't want any music when the dialogue was being said.

But the film was not marketed well...

Yes. It was very poorly marketed and I felt extremely sad and disappointed. It was several years of my labour and I wanted people to see and enjoy it.

But I never said anything against anyone then. Maybe that is why God has gifted me with quite a few awards including the selection to the Indian Panorama, Busan International Film Festival and now the Gollapudi Srinivas award.

I am happy that even a year after the film was released, people are still talking about it and writing about it.

It was reported that Melvilasom will be remade in Hindi. Is it true?

Yes, talks are going on. But it will be a re-worked script and fresh treatment with time playing a major role in each scene. I am discussing this with Madhu Ambat.

Has the film become your Melvilasom (address)?


Perhaps so. I will only say this, I have got much more than I expected.

Though the journey to make my Melvilasom has been a long, arduous one, it is a satisfying one.


Image: A scene from Melvilasom


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