As part of the London Indian Film Festival’s programme, one of the films selected by the committee is Pawan Kumar’s South Indian film Lucia. It was the first film to sell-out completely during the festival, as fans were keen to witness what this Kannada-language film had to offer. Lucia is based on the story of a cinema usher in Bangalore who suffers from insomnia and begins to have odd yet wonderful dreams. Roobla brings to you an exclusive interview with the film’s writer and director Pawan Kumar, in which he talks about Lucia and more.
MF: Firstly, congratulations on the film being a sell-out at the London Indian Film Festival. How does it feel knowing that Lucia has sparked so much interest amongst the public?
PK: This is something none of us anticipated. The “No audience for Mature Kannada films” tag has been used so much that we were not even expecting a dozen people to turn up. so it came a complete shocker to know that Lucia is the only film to have two full houses in London. We are glad that all our social marketing has been very effective. This turn out gave us good feedback on the content of the film as well as a validation. Now we are confident about having a successful release back home.
MF: What is the key message which Lucia is attempting to convey?
PK: I was only attempting to tell a story, rather than delivering a message. But it is true that the story has a deeper meaning which could come across as a message. To put it in a simple format, they say grass is always greener on the other side. Through Lucia I guess I was attempting to say that the guy on the other side also thinks the same!
MF: You not only directed this film, but also wrote the screenplay to it. Which of the two did you find most challenging and why?
PK: Writing would be easy and directing difficult. As a writer, I was just using the laptop to type out anything and everything that came to my mind. But when it came to the practical transformation from SCRIPT to SHOTS! It was very challenging. It’s easy to sit in a room and think of creative possibilities, but it is very difficult and stressful to make it all happen in the real world… especially with a movie like that of Lucia.
MF: What was the most challenging aspect of making this film?
PK: Because it was the crowd funded film, we had very minimal budgets and the script was complex and demanding. So I had to make the best of the resources I could buy or source out… and yet not compromise on the script. And I had to play the role of the responsible producer as well as the creative director. Finding the right balance was the biggest challenge.
MF: Do you consider regional cinema to be underrated in a country where Bollywood is dominant?
PK: Regional cinema is restricted to region because of the language barrier. Having said this, things have changed quite drastically. All South (Indian) films get re-dubbed in Hindi and are aired on TV, and there is quite a huge audience base for that. So if we are talking about ‘commercial’ films within India, I’d say Bollywood hasn’t affected regional cinema. However, internationally people think Indian Cinema is Bollywood cinema. I guess that has to change. Regional films have to make more noise in the international circuit for this.
MF: What motivated you to take on filmmaking as a profession?
PK: I like telling stories. But because I am a very shy person and an introvert sorts, I don’t talk about my thoughts or feelings directly. I think theatre and films became a medium through which I was sharing what I feel about something, it’s a way I confess. I got addicted to living like this… to make people “pay” to watch or hear what I think about life, the world around me! The craft of story-telling through images came quite naturally to me. I used to get a kick working on the sets, converting the images in your head into shots. All this put together made me a filmmaker!
MF: Which filmmakers inspire you the most?
PK: There is not one single director, not one single genre. I have learnt a lot by watching various films. There is Tarantino (Quentin), David Fincher, Spielberg (Steven), Nolan (Christopher) Daren Aronofsky, Anurag Kashyap… I have always liked films made by these guys. I think I have seen all their films many times and I’d say that is my film school!
MF: Is there any particular actor or actress with whom you are keen to work?
PK: Big names do pop up in my head when a question like this is asked. E.g. Al Pacino… but then am I good enough to even direct an actor like him follows that thought and I quickly put it aside. So I guess I have always written a script and then depending on the budgets I go around casting… irrespective of how popular they are.
MF: Finally why should people go out to watch Lucia?
PK: They should watch it because it is going to make them go through an experience in two hours which they will carry with them for quite a long time. The film has a few magical elements… something which every person across the globe can relate to. That is the only reason they should watch that film.