Cinema is evolving like never before. There have been so many offbeat films of late, boasting a distinctive style—be it in casting, concept, or in making. In Hollywood, the list is longer but Kollywood too has its fair share of such films.
How can one forget the Tamil film Navarathri, which had Sivaji Ganesan essaying nine characters corresponding to nine emotions? Later Kamal Haasan broke the record by playing 10 characters in Dasavathaaram. Suyamvaram was completed in 23 hours and 58 minutes with a gargantuan crew of 14 directors, 19 cinematographers and over 30 leading actors.
Now independent Tamil filmmaker Sankagiri Rajkumar has gone a step further. He not only essays all the characters with thousands of computer facilitated versions of himself for his new film—All One—but is also helming everything from writing, directing, to even post-production. He has handled all the departments of the film single-handedly, such as camera, music, editing, dubbing, and visual effects.
Says the maverick filmmaker, “I myself would unload the props and equipment. I would fix the camera beforehand, use a motor-controlled camera mounted on a crane to start and stop automatically, and simultaneously do dubbing and operate the system to record.”
Rajkumar ventured all alone all the way to the Rohtang pass located at a height of 3,979 mt near the Nepal border to shoot. “Once I was sleeping in a hut in the biting cold. Since I am not used to such cold climes, I began having a fit. The natives were awakened by the noise I made hitting against the cot,” says he.
The film is about a bunch of friends who have planned a joy trip to a town to attend a function. But things go wrong and they lose their way. The group ends up in a forest and stumbles on an abandoned research site which housed scientists who were researching on freezing the world for 10 days. But something seems to have happened to it and the site is deserted. The friends are now in possession of a tool to freeze the world. The film is about what the friends do with it.
Talking about the effort he put in, Rajkumar says, “I did not wish to showcase my talent or create any record. I just wanted to prove to aspiring filmmakers that a film can be made by one person. All you need is good content. Earlier in my movie Vengayam, I showed there was no need of leading actors or a big star cast. I made common people perform in it.”
Coming from a rich artistic tradition, the fimmaker sees cinema as a tool to educate, apart from it being entertaining. “My grandfather was a Therukoothu (the street play of Tamil Nadu) artist and my father a stage artist. Therukoothu evolved to teach the unlettered rural masses. I don’t see cinema’s evolution as growing from black and white to single colour. Rather for me, it has its roots in street plays that aim to educate. So, all my movies will have a message,” Rajkumar affirms.
The director’s debut film Vengayam spoke about self-proclaimed godmen swindling villagers using superstitions.
All One has been made in English and Tamil. Rajkumar plans to release it worldwide as he believes it has a universal message. The fimmaker is now busy working on the script for his next film, a science fiction. But in this, he plans to change course and cast a big name from the industry.