Film director Jayendra Panchapakesan was not always a big fan of carnatic music, like he is today. But after his film One, set to premiere in Los Angeles and San Francisco next week, and New York the week after, the hope is that audiences will experience the genre with some fresh perspective.
“There are no mics, no stage, not even a violin or a mridangam,” says the man who previously gave us the critically acclaimed concert experience ‘Margazhi Raagam’ in 2008. “But this isn’t a concert,” he places emphasis on the last word. Presented by Aghal Films and produced by C Srikanth, the 90-minute film starring TM Krishna shows the singer in the hills of the Nilgiris and a forest land in Ooty, doing what he does best amid an all-natural BGM...the chirps of birds and the swish of running streams.
“The idea was to strip the music away from everything performance oriented,” Jayendra explains. The reason, he adds a moment later, “A lot of the elements that come with the classical package — be it the sabha, bhakthi or traditions, tend to keep people away.” And this way, with nothing to come between the viewer and the artiste - the music is also a lot more personal, the director of 180 sums up simply.
While the shoot itself took only two days, the location scouting in this case was extremely tedious. “We made three trips just to look at different spots,” Jayendra recalls and elaborates, “because this was live recording, without any edits to sound.”
And from the smile on this director, it looks like he has no doubt that his novel Carnatic perspective is receive a positive response with audiences. “I saw my crew of camera men and light boys who know nothing about carnatic music completed ‘immersed’ as they watched when we were shooting,” he recalls. Hence the title, One.
In fact, when the folks over at Dolby saw how their sound came across with a small portion of the film - they were transported too. “And that’s how all these screenings in the US even came about,” Jayendra states. The director is already in talks with a festival in the UK and a TV channel in Japan and it will release in India by the end of November.