KOCHI: Some movies make you meditate on the meaning of life, time and existence. Uddharani (Allusion) is one such film. The debut feature film by young director Vignesh P Sasidharan follows the mundane life of the gatekeeper of the mystical garden Shangri La.
Almost entirely shot in black and white, the movie is divided into seven chapters. The first one shows a young gatekeeper at work, sitting on the chair in front of the gate to the garden in anticipation of visitors. There’s a war going on in his country, he reads about it in the newspaper. But he is not worried or concerned. He is living life one day at a time, welcoming visitors politely. He doesn’t have the answers to any of the visitors’ questions nor does he try to hide his disinterest most of the time. He doesn’t worry about the mysteries of the garden or where to get the tickets from. He just waits, writes down entries and sulks with boredom.
As a viewer, you feel this boredom too. “I wanted everyone to feel the weariness of the character. To see how his life and existence are mundane,” says Vignesh, who is also the editor and scriptwriter of Uddharani.
However, the monotony is broken when an old man comes to the gate without a ticket. He irritates the gatekeeper and questions him, and ends up being the harbinger of various truths that the gatekeeper dodged all these days.
Uddharani is a rare theatrical experience unexpected in this day and age. The unapologetic art house film doesn’t concern itself with the commercial viability or audience response. Anyone can read what they want to from this movie.
The cinematography, though beautifully done, doesn’t try too hard either. The utopian land and the garden are in black and white, but the tickets are colourful. The garden has no flowers, just wilderness as far as the eyes can see. Each answer in the movie leads to a myriad of questions. Even the chapter Answers leaves viewers with various ambiguities and mysteries.
“I wrote the script in around three weeks. The idea came to me while scouting a location for a music video, which ended up being the garden Shangri La in the movie,” says Vignesh, who was inspired by the works of James Hilton, Franz Kafka and Hermann Hesse to name a few. Actor Arun Kumar, who plays the lead character, is a fantastic discovery too. He lives the character, changing his mannerisms aptly in every scene. “I had cast him for the role even before the script was ready,” says Vignesh.
Vishnu Shaji, Krishnan Potti and Lakshmi Manoj have played the other roles. Without their powerful performances, the movie would fail to convey its story. The cinematography by Parthan Suresh and sound design by Shefin Mayan contribute equally to the peculiar narrative.
Uddharani is a directorial marvel. “It is a low budget film. We spend only Rs 2.7 lakh, of which more than Rs 1.5 lakh was spent on sound,” reveals Vignesh, who is busy with his next project.