Malayalam indie film titled No Man’s Land is set to premiere on Amazon Prime Video sometime this month. Debutant Jishnu Harindra Varma, who helms the film, describes it as an “experimental, uncompromisingly dark” drama replete with drug use and violence.
“From the outset, we were clear about this not being a film for the theatres. So the possibility of an OTT release afforded us the freedom of making the kind of film we wanted to,” says Jishnu. Lukman Avaran (Operation Java), Sudhi Koppa (Porinju Mariam Jose), and Sreeja Das (Angamaly Diaries) essay the principal characters in the film, which, according to Jishnu, is split into chapters named after each of its characters. Jishnu cites Darren Aronofsky’s much-discussed cult drama Requiem for a Dream as one of its influences. “It’s not similar in terms of the story, but mood. The emotions drive the conflict,” he says.
Jishnu is confident in his praise of Lukman, who plays the psychologically disturbed central character, calling it an extraordinary performance. “It has the potential to be a much-discussed role. It’s a complicated character. There is an intense transformation sequence of his in the film.”
Aside from the three actors, the film will also feature a group of newcomers. No Man’s Land is said to be heavy on ambience, with sounds playing a significant part. “40% of the film is reliant on sound,” says Jishnu. “The sound design took a lot of time and effort.
To make sure that we got everything right, we had to go and re-record all the sounds. We shot this at a resort in a tea estate and followed a particular visual style (Pavi K Pavan is the director of photography). We didn’t opt for a conventional pace or making style. It’s a completely mood-based drama.”
Before making his directorial debut, Jishnu worked in the advertising field and briefly associated with Madhu Ambat, albeit not in the capacity of a cinematographer. It was last year’s nationwide lockdown that presented an opportunity to make his maiden feature. Filming was completed last September.