It is hard to decode talent from hype, and passion from social media buzz. As Mohanlal/Sreenivasan perhaps unintentionally said, “in these days of degenerating decency”, it is hard to find real voices that do not clamour for ‘Likes’ but go about their dreams with silent determination.
And if you are a film lover, as much as you hate or resist the medium of short (films), it also offers vignettes into the next/new generation of talent, waiting in the wings to be heard, seen and shared. Not atypically, they lack godfathers – and if they find one, they can consider themselves lucky, as the trail they should cut would be easier to navigate.
But in the absence of the big F – funds – they often have only a bigger F to fall back on – Friends. And that is one reason their leave an indelible mark – because they show the spirit of unconditional collaboration.
So here are three upcoming filmmakers, who are as yet mostly dabbling in short (before the big break), who have but one common: You cannot find more passionate souls than them when it comes to films. They live and breathe cinema, constantly looking at how they can push their own boundaries, despite hurdles galore.
(This will be a list to be updated on the go – with more filmmakers, more of their works and their vision)
Mainstream film goers might recognise the name for the promo cut of the Thas Thinnam song of Tovino Thomas’ upcoming film Theevandi. He also assisted Lukka Chuppi-director Bash Mohammed on his second feature, the internationally acclaimed Prakasan.
Vishnu is now buzzing with the recognition he receives for his new short film, Waft, which has made to about five festivals already including Aab International Film Festival, Lakeview International Film Festival, Kolkata, and Berlin Flash Film Festival as Official Selections. It also won the Silver Award for Best Narrative Short; Bronze Award for Best Background Score; and Honorable Mention for Best Cinematography at the IMDb Independent Shorts Awards.
Vishnu’s has been an interesting journey – playing with shorts as a medium to express his love for cinema, with Two Zero One Four, a quirky ode to Valentine’s Day, hitting it big with an official Telugu remake. Vishnu’s style is richly visual – and it is evident in La Musica and Shyamasundara (Kerala Diaries), both music videos featuring singer Kavya Ajit.
Vishnu seems to play it not by the rulebook – but with an eye to communicate. It is a style worthy because it is utterly unpretentious. That, I believe, is the way to go.
At about six minutes, Kanimangalam is a contemporary satire that wears the stamp of its maker, the young Jeffson Fernandez. The short is startling in its intensity and effortless in its wit – both contrasting to create an impressionable work by Jeff, who is now already on to the second in the Kanimangalam series.
What defines Jeff too is his passion for the medium, and he has already worked as assistant director on Prakasan, and has been associated with the immensely talented Sunil Ibrahim’s Y, a film that has picked up a share of viral audience online.
Vishnu and Jeff collaborate a lot – and the two have distinctive individual strengths that add up when they join hands. As individual filmmakers, they – I feel – abide by different narrative and genre-approaches. Both, in time, should enrich Malayalam cinema.
Suraj Rajesh Chelat
Still an Engineering student, Suraj Rajesh Chelat’s passion for cinema shines through in his Facebook feed. There are informed reviews – of contemporary and classic movies – and unique perspectives on what cinema means to him, and what he learns from the medium.
Those are refreshing reads – much like his short film, Subhashinte Thirodhanam that wears the mark of an emerging filmmaker, growing leaps and bounds, from his first, the curiously titled and framed The Anon. That had a touch of philosophical-existential dilemmas emerging writers often like to experiment with; it lends gravitas, no doubt, but could sometimes be lost to the masses.
With Subhashinte, Suraj emerges from an “I’ story-teller to a ‘we’ filmmaker, who brings together amazing talents – from its mood-based cinematography to brilliant actors – to create an astonishing work. With several moments that lift the movie from being another ‘campus short’ it also successfully navigates the tricky territory of building emotional resonance with clever writing.
Here is just but three – and three talents who offer tremendous promise – and probably some great cinema for the wider public. And hey, perhaps it is coincidental that the three have that lean, hungry look – after all, when you chase dreams, as Steve Jobs did, you need to stay agile.