Pooja Batra starrer, Padmavyuha has gained quite a momentum. After it’s first screening at the opening gala night of International Indian Film Festival, Toronto.
Raj Krishna says he’s taken help of his father who’s a Hindu himself. It is to dig deeper into the history of Hinduism.
He got into a candid conversation with Urban Asian and shares with us everything from his idea behind the film. To how he prepared himself for his directorial debut. Read on..
What made you come with the idea?
I’ve always been interested in the general notion of faith. The power faith can have over people and societies, to lead them to do both good and bad. I figured it would be cool to package these ideas into a Da Vinci Code or Indiana Jones style of a historic, mystery thriller rooted in Indian mythology, which I had not seen in Indian cinema before. I wanted it to be a trippy, edge-of-your-seat thriller, whilst also being a comprehensive, balanced lesson in Indian history. I followed the good old-fashioned filmmaking advice and made the movie I would want to see on opening night.
How did you prepare yourself for the director’s role?
It was my first directing job, so I was a nervous wreck. I prepared in every way I could. In addition to writing more than ten scripts over the last 5 years, I read dozens of books on filmmaking, like David Mamet’s On Directing Film (which I read twice). I took a filmmaking class at the Shelton Theatre in San Francisco, where our final project was to direct a short monologue (I chose the perhaps slightly too over-the-top sales speech from Glengarry Glen Ross).
I took every online course or Masterclass I could. I had produced films before, so I went through all of the budgets and notes from my past projects and tried to put myself in the shoes of the directors on those projects, who I had observed closely as they worked. They were all award-winners with successful portfolios – and so I tried to think about how they had prepared, what they cared about, and how they ran the show. I meditated a lot. But I was nervous. Being on set for the shoot was perhaps the most stressful experience of my life. But it was also thrilling.
Are kids today falling out of the habit of reading and watching mythology?
It’s possible. I think it cuts both ways. With the Internet, a lot of this information is available at your fingertips. The level of depth I was able to go to in my research – pulling up actual images from the original Vedas, English translations of the ancient texts, and finding this all online through Wikis – it took me minutes or hours, as opposed to the months this film would have taken me to research and write this during the pre-Internet days. But then again, with the Internet, the mass consumer is always reading these pithy articles, engaged in apps like WhatsApp and Tiktok, and maybe the long-form narrative is getting lost.
That’s also part of the reason why I wanted to make this movie. An easily digestible, thrilling narrative that was also a complex deep-dive into this deep mythology. Learning all of this myself took me months and several books and research sessions. There are no easily digestible formats for reading and watching mythology that I could find that disseminate this kind of information in this format. so I had to create it.
Is OTT the future of entertainment?
It is, but I don’t think it’s the only future. We had our world premiere online, at the virtual International Indian Film Festival of Toronto (IIFFT), and while it was an amazing experience, it felt like something was missing, since we all weren’t in a cinema together, experiencing the film as an audience together in a dark space. Part of the exhilarating aspect of the filmmaking experience is gone when you’re just watching a small screen, or on your mobile phone. I remember how I used to feel when I went to see movies on the big screen as a kid. It would literally get your blood racing, the massive picture in front of you, and the music around you making your bones vibrate. And I miss that. I think theatres will have a place in our society. At least, I certainly hope so.
Whose craft do you like the most?
Everybody. You can learn something from every single artist out there. My favorite directors include everyone from Nolan and Fincher (dark, moody) to Scorsese (the characters, the Steadicam shots) to Spielberg (the jaw-dropping spectacle) and Wes Anderson (the colors and quirkiness). I could go on and on. Even within a director’s portfolio, there is so much variation and experimentation. So not everyone has a consistent style themselves.
What is your favorite film and why?
This is a tough one – for me, it’s probably tied between Christopher Nolan’s Memento (a lot of elements of which you’ll find in Padmavyuha – the ambiguous protagonist, the chronological puzzle), and Rituparno Ghosh’s Raincoat, which is probably the most haunting love story I’ve ever seen. Raincoat still sends chills down my spine, just how heartbreaking and how real it is, and the way it’s crafted with its colors, realism, and sadness.
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