CHENNAI: This is the story of a CCTV camera and a cat. Both of which, caused short filmmaker P Iyanar a considerable amount of trouble shooting his latest project— Selvam Poonai.
“But I like trouble,” says the 22-year-old. Probably because his favourite ‘C’ word is actually: Challenge. With it comes the joy of innovation as Iyanar discovered. “No filmmaker has worked with a CCTV camera. I’ve checked countless sites and news videos. This is a first in the world,” he claims.
But there’s a good reason why no one has considered using it before. Have you ever seen a security guard look through the back of a CCTV camera? “You can’t see what you’re shooting with this camera because it has no viewfinder!” Iyanar’s voice gets louder and his smile brighter. Ironically, the disadvantage only adds to his excitement, rather than deters him. “Some days we shot as many as 40 takes to get a single shot,” he tells us proudly.
This choice of camera is one in a long list of nine unconventional others over the years, including a pen camera, a Nokia N70 cell phone camera, a web cam and a helicopter camera. Armed with a Bachelors of Computer Application (BCA), and a self made curriculum of filmmaking, perhaps it’s the lack of a traditional approach that has led him to gain entry into international festivals like UK festival DepicT.
If you’re wondering how a cat entered the picture, here is the tale. The 25-minute long Selvam Poonai revolves around a disillusioned writer who becomes the reluctant owner of a cat. His furry pet seems to follow him everywhere — to work, around the house, raking chaos and a mess wherever he goes. Until one day, Selvam can’t take it anymore and plots his pet’s demise with a vile of poison. In the end though, the cat ends up saving his life, giving Selvam at long last, inspiration to pen a book.
The script demanded a cat because the filmmaker anticipated it would be harder to shoot, not to mention a second first to add to his resume. “I’ve never seen a cat used in a Tamil film or short film before. There have been dogs, zoo animals, even lizards. But no cats.” This is saying something for a man who turns out to be scared of cats!
Selvam Poonai is planned for release by the end of the year. Catch more of S Iyanar’s projects on the Youtube channel ‘INR Cine Arts.’