Monday, April 15, 2024
HomeEntertainmentDirector Raam Reddy’s magic realism in ‘The Fable’

Director Raam Reddy’s magic realism in ‘The Fable’


In March 2020, Raam Reddy — director of National award-winning Kannada film Thithi — started shooting his second feature, The Fable. The crew, including the two lead actors, Manoj Bajpayee and Deepak Dobriyal, had shot for three days in and around Mukteshwar in Uttarakhand, when the national lockdown was announced. While the pandemic had still not reached this small corner of the Himalayas, Reddy and his team found themselves stuck on location for three months.

“We took a lot of walks, played badminton,” Reddy shared last week in Berlin, where The Fable premiered in the Encounters section at the 74th Berlinale. It was a surreal experience, the reality of filmmaking interrupted by an unexpected global pandemic that halted the three years of preparation.

Raam Reddy

In The Fable, Bajpayee plays Dev, a large estate owner in the Himalayas, managing fruit orchards that are being attacked by insects. Strange developments, including mysterious fires in the estate, break Dev’s routine. But his life is enriched with touches of magic realism and an odd hobby the mild-mannered man finds comfort in — he builds life-size wings to help him fly over the estate and inspect it.

The Fable is a dreamlike piece of filmmaking set in 1989, where the characters cope with unpredictable occurrences. The film features Hindi, English and Pahari because Reddy wanted to use the languages spoken in the region.

A still from The Fable

A still from The Fable

Flying in the Himalayas

Reddy, who turns 35 this month, grew up in a coffee estate in the South, where he witnessed similar social organisations and class systems. He says he was “fascinated by the complex relationships between the owner and the manager, the worker, the trespasser. Blending the story with the setting, and within the fragment of the real and magic realism, seemed entirely naturalistic. In this world, a man putting on a set of wings and jumping off a cliff like a bird felt perfectly natural to me, given the inherent mysticism of those mountains”.

The filmmaker transferred the memories of a coffee plantation to life in the Himalayas, and layered it with a childhood secret — when he was a kid, a cousin told him that he would grow wings at the age of 12. “I built a world that I wanted to inhabit myself,” he says. “All these things that captivated me, I wanted to bring them into a narrative, so I could live it through the film.”

Priyanka Bose plays Nandini, Dev’s wife and the mother of the couple’s two children, and a calming influence on her husband. Dobriyal is Mohan, the estate’s manager and the conscience of the film, whose voiceover carries forward the narrative.

Priyanka Bose in The Fable

Priyanka Bose in The Fable

Reddy casting three cinema actors from Mumbai, and switching from Kannada to Hindi, is an attempt to reach a wider audience. He was also looking for trained actors, but with certain qualities. “Manoj and I connected. Apart from that, he’s transformative in everything he does,” he says. “We had a deeper connection on this project. He also is interested in some of the philosophical elements that I was keen to explore.”

Film over pixels 

As a period film set in 1989, Reddy wanted it to have an original feel — of the time and space. So, he took one more risk: he shot the project on 16mm film. “That was the stock of the time, it was the medium,” he says. “So I wanted to make it feel like we went back in time.” Using film must have cost more money, but he managed to get around it. “I believe in this transference of consciousness,” he adds. “So we, as a group, were creating a moment in time that feels a certain way. I believe that the chemical reaction of film captures that emotion better than pixels.”

Something in their eyes

Reddy had observed and admired Dobriyal’s performances for a long time. “With all of the actors I ask, ‘Is there a quality of transformation there?’ He is so reactive and fluid, the way he works with his eyes. I thought that it would be exciting to have someone with that kind of acting style within a cage that I built for him. Then you see the same thing functioning in a grounded individual.”

A still from the film

A still from the film

Similarly, with Priyanka. “Her heart was opened while she performed and that’s what the character needed. Her intuition was strong, not just as a character, but as an actor. I was drawn to her eyes as well,” says Reddy.

The strongest performance in the film, however, is delivered by Tillotama Shome, who is in the film for less than 10 minutes, playing a village woman, a mother, married to a suspicious character. “Her character really sits at the core of the story,” Reddy says. “The layers to that scene where she narrates a story to her children so they can sleep, are very important. There’s a reason why the film is called The Fable.”

The writer is a film festival programmer and author.



Source link

RELATED ARTICLES

Most Popular

Recent Comments