On Thursday, 21 November, the Indian Panorma (Non-feature) section at the 49th International Film Festival of India opened with Marathi film Kharvas, directed by Aditya Suhas Jambhale, while Malayalam film Olu, directed by National film awardee Shaji N Karun, opened the Indian Panorma (Feature) section. The two directors addressed the media in a press conference after the screening of their respective films.
While Kharvas is a 38-minute long film about a woman dealing with the trauma of still birth, Olu is a fantasy film about the meaning of pure love. Even though both the films seem starkly different at the outset, they have common themes of child birth and art running through them.
A big chunk of Shaji Karun’s Olu unfolds under water, with the film’s prime character, played by Drishyam (2013) actress Esther Anil, somewhere between life and death, waiting for redemption.
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About bringing alive the beautiful underwater portions, Shaji, says, “Nobody can speak under water, but it is a fantasy. She was there on the green mat through out. Generally an actor gets the energy from the other actors to perform, but she is there alone. And she had to give birth to a baby also. At this age, imagining that was also difficult for her.”
“Almost 6-7 months of VFX went into it. The fish, the floor, the water, the plants (which are also a character). The way it translates her emotion to the plants and then the womb (had to be portrayed). The lighting and everything else has to come through in the visuals. My VFX people [Excel VFX] were excellent, gave me the courage to go ahead and make this film,” the acclaimed cinematographer told Cinestaan.com.
“Like Titanic (1997), half of that film was shot in the studio. The VFX is not for show off, it is an integral part of the tools of telling the story,” he adds.
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Jambhale, writer and director of Kharvas, which was also an official selection in the short film corner section at the Cannes Film Festival this year, says that seeing his film opening the Indian Panorama section feels like a dream. “Four years ago I was at IFFI lining up to watch films and now my film has been selected as the opening film, boosting my confidence that anything is possible, you just need to focus on work and craft and dedication is key,” he says.
“Kharvas was an intense story about motherhood, and still birth. And Veena Jamkar [who plays the protagonist] has done a brilliant job. This film is about a struggle of a mother, trying to find her peace in turmoil. One is the fight within and the second is the most important — the fight with the perception of the society,” he adds.
“Kharvas was shot in Goa in five days,” Jambhale informs.