Man’s frantic struggle to make peace with himself and a harrowing journey through terrains unknown - that sums up the storyline of Unto the Dusk, the first feature film of award-winning short filmmaker Sajin Babu. “The film slices through the mindscape of an individual, unravelling the terror of his deep-buried past and the shadows haunting his present,” says the director.
The film starts when its central character drops out of a school of divinity. “He is forced to join the seminary by his family. He is a hesitant entrant, not ready for the drill of spiritual conditioning. Though he remains there for seven long years certain unfortunate incidents make him forsake the church.” The former seminarian sets off on a journey that transcends the normal variants of self discovery. “He is a man driven by trauma and resultant wrath, but all through the journey he is more involved in a battle with his inner self,” he adds.
The highlight of the film is its narrative pattern that ditches chronology. “The film doesn’t stick to the time-tested template of moviemaking where only camera angles and locations keep changing,” says Sajin.
As the film follows its hero in his whirlwind journey, it scurries through a lot of locations. “Fifty percent of the film is shot in deep forests in an attempt to explore man’s innate connection with mother earth. When the hero enters the forest there starts a philosophical dialogue between man and nature. Most of the scenes were shot at interiors that take hours of trekking to reach.”
The film features a spate of characters, but none including the lead character has any name. Background score, which is normally considered an indispensable ingredient, also goes missing. “The film focuses on the visual idiom. Even the dialogues are kept at minimum and you will see characters talking only in a handful of scenes,” he says.
The film, which has all the generic characters of a thriller, also introduces a bunch of new faces. “The film doesn’t have any stars, just actors who absolutely fit in to their roles, “ says the director. While Sanal Aman, a product of the School of Drama, appears on screen as the lead character, Bengali actress and theatre activist Prakrithi Dutta Mukharjee, Zakkir, Joseph Mapilasery and Shilpa Kavalam are also part of the cast. The film co-produced by M P Sheeja and L Geetha has its script penned by the director and Jose John.