The director who called his first shots for the hit 1989 suspense thriller ‘Chanakyan’ is back again with yet another movie of the same genre titled ‘Up & Down’. But this time, T K Rajeev Kumar has meshed together the suspense elements with human emotions and understanding. ‘Up & Down’ intricately weaves the story of nine people who live in neighbouring apartments of a 25-storeyed flat. The director who got the initial spark for the film from a real life incident says, “This film is one of my career’s interesting projects. Five years back I had personally witnessed my mother-in-law’s uneasiness while she climbed a lift. The incident was there in my mind, even after a while.” Later on, Rajeev Kumar happened to experience a next-gen viewing experience which is very popular in the US. “I saw the famous web television called Revision3 which was a new interactive medium of telling incidents around us. There are no news readers to interpret the stories. A viewer or the subject or anyone can interpret these independent stories which are shot like short episodes. That led me to think about the scope of telling a story about a group of people stuck together in a confined space with no contact with the outer world,” says the national award winning director.
The movie that tells the clandestine relationships among the people stuck in the lift for two-and-half-hours, towards the end unfurls interesting revelations of each individual. “The story opens with people climbing into the lift. Some of them are familiar with each other being neighbours, while others are total strangers. It is only later that the real character of each individual is revealed. It deals with how each person reacts in an adverse situation and anticipates a stranger that hangs above them. There is an element of tension and drama. Even a normal human being may act in a weird manner in closed space within a stipulated time,” says Rajeev Kumar.
Spanning a career of around 28 years, Rajeev Kumar has been known for his experimental films which focus on the theme and treatment. “There are no conventional heroes in a film. Each actor has an egalitarian role,” says Rajeev Kumar.
Rajeev Kumar through various pleasant and light moments moves forward this suspense thriller movie through a writer who lives a free spirited life, and a lift operator. These pivotal roles are donned by Prathap Pothen and Indrajith respectively. As there are no frills and fancies that could be experimented in the film that is predominantly shot inside a lift, the movie has its own share of directorial challenges. “The film can’t be shot in the customary format. Our main problem was the limited space, there is no outer elements like nature, only possibility is to play up with the human characters. The film solely is on the shoulders of the actors and their performances,” he adds. “There is a claustrophobic person, a dancer, a writer, a kid and many others with different cultural backgrounds. It has humour and how the humour evolves into a tension filled drama and ultimately into revelations is the crux of the film,” says the veteran director.
The director who is known for carving out strong impactful women characters through films like ‘Kannezhuthi Pottum Thottu’, remake of ‘Rathinirvedam’, ‘Thalsamayam Oru Penkutti’ and the like, has three women characters playing key roles in the film. “Playing the youthful and vibrant character is Sruthi Menon, Remya Nambeeshan comes in a traditional and elegant dancer’s role and through Meghna Raj’s character another facet of womanhood is shown in the movie,” he says.
Apart from Prathap Pothen and Indrajith, the other individuals entrapped in the lift are K B Ganeshkumar, Rajath Menon, Baiju, Nandu, Remya Nambeeshan, Sruthi Menon and Master Devaraman.
Other interesting characters in the film are Meghnaraj, Vijayakumar, Jaikrishna and Kochu Preman.
The film is produced by V Balachandran, R Karunamurthi and Latha Kurien Rajeev under the banner of Blue Mermaid Picture Company will hit the theatres on March 28. The script is penned by Sunny Joseph and Manuel George and camera is cranked by Jomon Thomas.