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Time Pass with Rajiv Menon | ‘Film knowledge is not elitist anymore’

By Express News Service

Rajiv Menon has had his hands full for years now with many responsibilities, including being a cinematographer, running a film institute, and producing ad films. The director in him had laid low though, till he returned with Sarvam Thaala Mayam (2018). And now, it appears that he’s back for good, as he speaks about the just-released Putham Pudhu Kaalai, an Amazon Prime Video anthology he has directed a segment in, alongside others like Suhasini Maniratnam, Sudha Kongara, Karthik Subbaraj and Gautham Vasudev Menon.

“OTT content has crossed boundaries. We are sitting in our homes and watching a Spanish series like Narcos. Did we ever think that this was possible?” asked Rajiv, in his TimePass conversation, a webinar arranged by The New Indian Express, and hosted by senior journalist Kaveree Bamzai, and Sudhir Srinivasan, Entertainment Editor of The New Indian Express. 


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Rajiv also noted that film culture and appreciation is going through a major change. “Film knowledge is not elitist anymore. It is not available just for someone who graduates from a famous film institute.”

Rajiv is well-known for his use of music to drive the narrative. Speaking about the good old days when melodies ruled, he said, “We have moved on from the days when an entire film or the avastha of a character used to get condensed in melodies. Songs are no more a necessity but a choice.”

Asked if Indian cinema has lost its USP of musical tradition, Rajiv says that sometimes the business surrounding a product like music, can stall progress. “People may not be as acceptant of songs, but they very much accept background score.”

On how Putham Pudhu Kaalai came to be, he said, “Television was delivering only bad news; there were people dying. A major star committed suicide. There was a cyclone, and conflict with a neighbouring country.”

Amid such a distressing situation, he got the opportunity to work on the anthology. “When asked to give a story about hope—about how people are coping with the lockdown—I took it up as a challenge.” 

Rajiv had to shoot his short with minimal crew. He revealed that as the shoot progressed, many characters were knocked off and disappeared.

Famous carnatic singer Sikkil Gurucharan plays the lead in Rajiv’s short and the director shared his admiration for Sikkil’s acting ability that he had first noted in Sarvam Thaala Mayam.

With people growing long beards during the lockdown, Sikkil’s look was a good fit, he added. “The role required a lot of prep and research… and a lot of trust in me.”

He ended the conversation by talking about how OTTs have made the stars look for good content. “There is no way a show like Paatal Lok could have been made with these stars if not for OTT platforms. I’m glad this has happened.”

Source: The New Indian Express