Filmmakers writing filmmakers: Broche, Iraivi, Neninthe & Jigarthanda
I’ve been told that a film is a visual story. All filmmakers are storytellers working with other storytellers to make a movie. A cinematographer uses their skill to frame and captures a story. An actor enacts a character to tell a story. A lyricist conveys a story with few lines, and a musician narrates a story with soul rendering music.
There have been films on actors, musicians, and the film industry, and most of them are either biographical or semi-biographical. Having touched upon the movies on actors, I thought to compile my thoughts on filmmakers and the way the filmmakers write about themselves.
Earlier, films were made based on books, and gradually there were stories exclusively written for movies by story writers. There was a distinction between story writers, screenplay writers, dialogue writers, and directors. Moving forward in most Indian languages, except Malayalam, the demarcations aren’t going to be present.
Filmmakers: As per my understanding until now, a filmmaker writes the story, adapts it into a screenplay, and is on the Director’s chair to helm the movie with a tinge of understanding of how other technical aspects can complement the process of making a film. There aren’t many filmmakers in India yet, and I consider Mani Ratnam, Vetri Maaran, and Mysskin as filmmakers from the above understanding that I have, and I may be wrong here!
While watching Jigarthanda, and Brochevarevaru Ra, something inside me connected to the characters played by Siddharth and Satya Dev, and I kept tracking for the movies that have an aspiring director/filmmaker as main character and story revolves around their struggle/journey into making the film. There haven’t been many films that I have seen, and here are a few of them made in Telugu and Tamil:
Telugu: Neninthe, KSD Appalraju, Darshakudu, Ee Nagaraniki Emaindi (it is semi-biographical), Brochevarevaru Ra, and the latest Cinema Bandi
Tamil: I have seen only two, coincidentally both are made by Karthik Subbaraj: Jigarthanda & Iraivi
Instead of writing this in a regular my-thoughts-on-this format, let’s try to trace each character’s path to see if we can build a story around them from these movies.
For a feel-good movie, let’s take ENE, Broche, and Jigarthanda — Vivek, Vishal, and Karthik, and fit them into a fictional character, say, Mani.
Mani, 23, makes short films and wants to become a director. During his teenage, he wants to cover his insecurities and act rude to his friends with whom he makes short films but won’t submit them in film festivals (ENE).
After coming out of the teenage bubble, he considers venturing into films, this time on a serious note, and burns all his certificates to ensure there’s no alternative to fall back, which makes pursuing filmmaking inevitable for him (Broche).
A crazy turn of events leads to his father’s accident, and while he and the heroine are about to visit his father, a gang robs them off and hurts them.
In the meantime, the lead heroine to which our Mani narrates his personal story falls in love with him and confesses her feelings for him while taking medication in a hospital.
Let’s twist the story a little bit here — assume Mani rejects her proposal leading to her not acting in his movie. Mani is now, lost and he bugs the producer for a second chance to which the producer asks him to come with a gangster story instead of a woman-centric film.
He does that, and alas, we have Jigarthanda. I will not narrate what happens in Jigarthanda as it will spoil the experience of watching that brilliant film. Watch it here if you haven’t watched it yet.
Watch Jigarthanda - Disney+ Hotstar
To impress an art film director who critiqued his earlier attempts, Karthik decides to shoot a film on the life of a…
If you have seen the film, then I end my feel-good-happy-going story here, and this is how a filmmaker can write a character reflecting on the initial setbacks and how s\he can overcome them to release their debut film.
End of Part-1. Now, let’s look at the darker side, as in the non-commercial take on writing filmmakers (Non-commercial because we don’t buy sad stories). I am naming the lead character Ratnam now. Note that it will be a mix of Neninthe & Iraivi.
Ratnam, 26, is a struggling assistant director from a well-off family of artists, and his mother is bed-ridden due to ill health. To vent his frustration, he often drinks and promises himself to be sober after his debut film releases.
While working as an assistant director on a film, he gets a chance to narrate a story to the producer and gets a nod from the producer. He approaches the actor in the same movie, and the actor likes the story too!
“God is great,” he thinks, and bingo! The movie he’s assisting bombs at the box office, and the producer actively seeks the financers to fund our Ratnam’s debut film. As the times go desperate, a local don agrees to pitch in, and Ratnam, who has a past with that don, reluctantly agrees to the producer, with no option left,
Although there are clashes between Ratnam and the local don during the shooting, Ratnam completes the shoot. When the first print is ready, Ratnam finds out that his name as writer-director is replaced by that local don, who was waiting to avenge his history with Ratnam.
With the movie still on hold at the post-production phase, Ratnam gets married to a girl (traditional arranged marriage) as his family thinks marrying him off would give some respite, and he can proceed with making other films. Things go orthogonal to his parents’ thoughts, and he immerses himself into drinking every day, and with his frustration exceeding limits, he is always furious at others.
His wife, deciding it’s enough to live with him, sends him a divorce notice. For one last time, Ratnam’s family goes to the local don and pleads with him to release the movie in Ratnam’s name. The local don, taking advantage of the situation, humiliates Ratnam, and the deal doesn’t go well.
As a last resort, the local don agrees to sell off the film for an amount to Ratnam’s family so that they can release the film themselves.
And do you think the film releases? Watch Iraivi & find it out!
Oh wait, What about the most recent Telugu film released on Netflix, Cinema Bandi? I deliberately didn’t mention it because I think the main lead in the movie wasn’t passionate about cinema from a young age — he thought of making the film only after finding a camera in his auto.
So, it’s luck-by-chance, and I am not belittling it. I just wanted to narrate a story by taking the movie references that had characters passionate about cinema. Cinema Bandi is a decent film, and I became a fan of Maridesh Babu (of course to his signature pose :D).
This blog is an experiment on merging the content and characters of few films and narrating a story independently. Also, I couldn’t find any Hindi film that tracks the life of a filmmaker. If there are movies on the life of a filmmaker (both biographical & non-biographical), let me know.
There is a biopic on how India’s first film is made, on the life of Dada Saheb Phalke called “Harishchandrachi Factory,” which I should mention in this blog even though I didn’t take any deets from it while writing this piece.
There are two parts to it, and I named the main lead in the first part as Mani, and the second part as Ratnam, and you know why ❤
Until next time, hopefully on NAVARASA.