BENGALURU: The year 2021 has started off on a good note for filmmaker Arunvignesh A D S. After months of editing and trying to find a distributor for his feature film, his project has finally made its debut on Amazon Prime UK and USA. Called Honeysuckle, the multilingual film (Tamil, Hungarian, Arabic and English) was shot in Budapest and Bengaluru and follows the individual stories of three different characters in Hungary and India.
“I had shot some portions of the film while I was pursuing my masters in Budapest. Unfortunately, I couldn’t complete it. But once I graduated in 2019, I knew I didn’t want to leave the film incomplete so I took it up again, reworked the script and completed shooting the Bengaluru portions last year, just before the lockdown was imposed,” says the 25-year-old filmmaker, who completed his undergraduate degree from St Joseph’s College in the city.
Over the course of 75 minutes, Honeysuckle looks at the various conflicts its three protagonists face: A Hungarian taxi driver who smuggles immigrants between Serbia and Austria; Adam, a teenager in Budapest, who considers drug peddling to make a quick buck; and Aswatha, a Carnatic singer in Bengaluru who wants to cut ties and start over in a foreign land. Parts of the film, in fact, have been inspired by the filmmaker’s own life and a common Indian longing for the American dream.
“Like Aswatha, I too wanted to move abroad and pursue my passion. Even though I really wanted to do this, when it came to actually going down this road, I faced a lot of fear and concern about my decision,” says Arunvignesh. When his plans to pursue a degree in film in USA didn’t work out, the filmmaker headed to Hungary instead. Currently, he is based in Chennai and pursues a full time filmmaking career there. Speaking about the film’s name, he explains how honeysuckle is a twinning plant, one where the two vines face each other but never connect. “We may have differences in where we are born, grow up, education or work, but the emotions we experience are universal,” he says, adding that the `8 lakh film was completely self-funded.
While editing the film took two months, distributing it proved to be a big challenge. “We originally wanted the film on Netflix but it was rejected because the platform prefers commercial films. Amazon UK and US have an option where films accepted get screened on a pay per view basis, after, of course, they get a cut. This was possible only because I had an overseas bank account,” explains Arunvignesh, who is working on making the film available to an Indian audience as well.
The film was released on Jan. 15 and city-based actor Vasanti Sundaram is thrilled her first feature project made it onto a global platform. The 61-year-old plays Aswatha’s family friend and believes the film has a special USP that makes it stand out amid the many films flooding OTT platforms today.
“Imagine watching something in Hungarian and suddenly a Tamil song comes on. It would make someone sit up and take note of what is happening. Hungarian is not a common foreign language so the film, which has subtitles, is intriguing enough to watch. And it’s interesting to see these different stories come together, where the characters emerge victorious over their inner turmoils,” she says.