Oliyum Oliyum  gives sight to the blind

Meet the people behind the only Tamil short film that was selected recently for screening at the Chicago South Asian Film Festival  It focusses on the concept of eye donation and the makers t

Published: 30th September 2016 10:28 PM  |   Last Updated: 01st October 2016 03:23 AM   |  A+A-


A still from the film

Express News Service

CHENNAI: With the trend of short films becoming a fad in the city, the quality of content is often neglected as opposed to the quantity of films. But a handful of short films seem to make their way to international film festivals each year. Making its mark in the renowned Chicago South Asia Film Festival (CSAFF), and joining the wagon of other Indian short films like Sakharam, Kitchens of Gratitude and Babu ki Duvida, is the Tamil short film Oliyum Oliyum. City Express chats with producer Aadhav Kannadasan, lead actor John and cinematographer Arul Vincent about the short film.
Directed by Guru Carl Marx, the film was originally planned as a feature film says Aadhav (Ponmalai Pozhudhu, 2013). “After I finished working on my first feature film, Ponmalai…I wanted to start working on my second feature. Carl Marx who was the co-director for my first film said that it would be difficult to do that immediately,” he recalls. “So we decided to try it as a short film. I wrote the dialogue and screenplay, and we roped in a small team of technicians and actors, who would do justice to the movie. Now, we couldn’t be happier!”
With cinematographer Arul Vincent of Kirumi (2015) behind the lens, actor John debuted as the lead, and Saloni Luthra (Sarabam, 2014) was the female lead. “We were hesitant to screen the film online. So, other than CSFF, we also sent it to three festivals including pocket film fest, and had a premiere on NDTV a week ago. We are proud and excited to have been selected by one of the biggest juries. We are the only Tamil short film to be selected in the festival,” he beams.
The short film is scheduled to be screened along with the Indian feature film, Masaan (2015). “A lot of Indian feature films have also been selected — Masaan and Pathemari (2015) are some,” he adds.
The short film deals with a concept that propagates a social message — ‘Donate eyes: Your vision could be someone’s future’. Aadhav elaborates, “When we were discussing the idea of making the film involving blind people, I came across my friend’s mother who had cataract. After more research and a few discussions with doctors, it came as a revelation to us that India has the largest number of blind people. One out of three blind people are from India and the worst part is, apart from genetics and hereditary, poverty is another main reason for people to go blind. So I conceptualised and shot the film to show-
case this.”
Talking about his experience about acting in front of the lens for the first time, John, who has been part of Tamil Sangam Theatre shows in London says, “It was exciting! Both Saloni and I play visually-challenged and we visited the association for the blind and other places to read and observe their body language. We were amazed by their confidence and agility,” he shares. “From the way one holds a stick, to tapping it in three directions on the floor as they walk, it was an experience of a lifetime.”
Talking to Arul Vincent whose previous film Kirumi was selected at the Toronto Film Festival, the cinematographer shares that Oliyum Oliyum was shot with minimal equipment. “We used basic equipment and didn’t even use lights! It was all shot in outdoors at different places in Pondicherry for three days,” he explains. “As I shot a few scenes from rooftops, people mistook John for a real blind person and interrupted the shoot several times. Though we had to reshoot it again, as a team we were happy that people were convinced by his acting.”
Saloni who was seen in a negative role in Sarabam will be in a different avatar. “Her role is completely different and she is in a total de-glam avatar. It’s not easy to act blind and emote like a blind person. The team is proud of the achievement and we hope we win at the festival,” adds Aadhav. The Music for the film is done by Prasad (White Octaves) and editing by Vijay.

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