An authentic cultural experience

ST CORRESPONDENT
Thursday, 8 August 2019

Producer-actor Ashwini Pratap Pawar and writer-director-cinematographer Kaarthikeyan Kirubhakaran give us a glimpse into their English feature film His Father’s Voice which premiered in Los Angeles and now will be screened in Pune at NFAI

His Father’s Voice tells the story of a gifted male dancer, separated from his musician father in childhood, who must return to him, to be able to dance again. This English feature film had its première on April 19, 2019 in Hollywood, Los Angeles. A month later, it premiered in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and after that in Chennai, to hugely appreciative audiences. 

The Pune premiere is scheduled on August 11 at 10.45 am at NFAI. The screening is open to public, on a first come first serve basis. His Father’s Voice is also available on Vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/ondemand/hisfathersvoice 

We chat up the film’s producer-actor Ashwini Pratap Pawar and writer-director-cinematographer Kaarthikeyan Kirubhakaran. 

Did you set out to make Indian culture such an inherent part of this film? 
Kaarthikeyan: The film is set in a school for Bharatanatyam, and in the home of classical dancers, in Tamil Nadu. My characters are steeped in this culture, and so the story unfolds as it does.

This movie has excellent production values. How long did it take to plan?
Kaarthikeyan: It is as though l have been preparing for this movie, all my life. However, from the moment I decided to make it, it took about a year to plan for it.

How did you achieve to give such an international feel to the music? 
Kaarthikeyan: Vedanth Bharadwaj, our music composer, feels at home in Western, international, and Indian classical music. He is also deeply sensitive to the art of storytelling. This, he has in common, with all the great composers of the world.

Was it difficult to manage the dates and schedules for such an international cast? 
Kaarthikeyan: I found my international cast in my own neighbourhood, Auroville. It is the power of a good story that brings people to work together, on a project like this.

The dancers in the film are amazing. How long does one train in Bharatanatyam to be able to dance like that?
Kaarthikeyan: Bharatanatyam, like other forms of Indian classical dance, is the commitment of a lifetime. The older the dancer, the more refined the performance. While the younger dancers impress with the amazing grace and speed of their movements, the older dancers captivate you with highly nuanced expressions, and with very little movement.

Do you think this movie will make Indian culture popular in other parts of the world? 
Kaarthikeyan: People all over the world are delighted to discover in this film an authentic representation of Indian culture, music, and dance. It is my hope that our own filmmakers see that it is possible to be culturally authentic, and still have a mass appeal. So, I’m truly happy for the success of this film!

What inspired this story, and the concept for the movie?
Kaarthikeyan: Everywhere, I see families falling apart. And in every case, it is children who are affected the most. Something that caused me to ask, ‘What is love, without understanding?’. The movie idea was born. 

This film has amazing cinematography. Can you elaborate?
Kaarthikeyan: There are many factors that contribute to that look. But the most important one, is the sensitive use of light, and colour, and how it is treated, during the grading process. All of this is an extremely collaborative process. Ashwini Pratap Pawar, being an artist, worked together with our art and costume designer, and our colourist, to produce the effect that allows for the pleasure of well lit frames, and camera movements, to come through. The rhythm of the actors’ performance, and the movements of the camera, the location sound, and the editing as well, contribute to this look, and feel of the film. It is worth noting that not a single line of dialogue has been dubbed. It is all live sound. This is a huge achievement in such a noise filled environment as ours.

How was the experience of having the première of your film in Hollywood? 
Kaarthikeyan: It was truly special to experience a culturally and ethnically diverse American audience applaud a film like this! It made the Indians in the audience feel proud. Many watched the film, for a second, and some, for a third time, in the Arena Cinelounge Theatre, on Sunset Boulevard, where it played. 

When can we expect the film to be screened in theatres?
Kaarthikeyan: We have asked people to sign up on our Facebook page http://eepurl.com/gx2KKv, if they would like to watch this film in a theatre in their city. The film is available online, worldwide, on Vimeo, on this link www.vimeo.com/ondemand/hisfathersvoice. We encourage people to watch the film online, and to rate it on IMDB https://www.imdb.com/title/tt7676816/ . For people living in the US, UK, Canada, and Australia, the film is available on Amazon Prime, YouTube Movies, and Google Play as well. 

Ashwini, you have done such a brilliant job of both acting and producing. What was more challenging — producing or acting?
Ashwini: Thank you for the compliment. Pre-production, and post production were much more demanding in our film’s journey. Stepping into the garb of an actor, I was blessed to have a director like Kaarthikeyan. The inner work of an actor has far more depth and breadth, in comparison to the inner mindscape of the producer in me.

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