By Aditya Savnal. Posted on June 24, 2015
Director Avinash Arun's Killa is the story of an 11 year old boy who moves with his mother to a small town, owing to her job transfer. The film chronicles the boy's journey as he attempts to adjust to his new life, make new friends and the things he learns in this journey.
Besides winning the Crystal Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival 2014, the film also won the National Award for Best Feature Film - In Marathi and a special mention for child actor Parth Bhalerao. After completing a triumphant run at international film festivals, the film releases across theatres in India on the 26th of June. Avinash Arun has also shot Masaan and the soon to be released Drishyam, directed by Nishikant Kamat.
We recently interviewed Avinash Arun on his inspiration, the perks & challenges of shooting and directing one's own film and the experience of travelling across the word with his film.
Published below are excerpts from the interview.
The idea came from the times I spent during my childhood in Konkan. I spent almost 5 years as a child in Konkan. That imagery of Konkan was in my head all the time. This was the soul of the film and gave birth to the initial idea and inspiration of the story.
The film includes a lot of my experiences with my friends and things we used to do as kids. Konkan was for me, all about the sea, trees and a lot of water. This is why the sea has a subconscious presence in the film. My attraction and fear for the sea is what I wanted to bring out in the film.
For me it’s a story that was close to my heart. While directing, my craft as a cinematographer really helped me. I think anyone can make a film. And knowing an additional craft only helps you to make a better film. Filmmaking is a very personal thing and everyone has his/her personal skills to show and make stories cinematically. A lot of people advised me against directing a film, as they felt directing and shooting simultaneously can be very overwhelming.
But this was my story and my film and I knew how to shoot it. A lot of directors including Stanley Kubrick and Nuri Bilge Ceylan have shot their films. Ceylan was a cinematographer. And then there’s Robert Rodriguez who does everything from sound, directing and editing. Because i was doing both, on the sets, I was a little faster and was able to complete the film faster. There was no room for lack of communication.
I had this idea and plot for almost 6-7 years and was not able to go ahead with it. I met Tushar Paranjape (the writer of the film) and asked him to write a treatment of the film and he came up with a 40 page treatment. Then I met the producers and narrated the story that we had in mind. They liked the narration and decided to back it.
After that, me, Tushar and Omkar Barve (associate director) got together and wrote the screenplay. So I had the funding before we started scripting. Thankfully I didn’t struggle much to get the film made, things luckily fell in place.
We shot for almost 30 days over 5 months. It was superb working with these kids. Even my whole crew enjoyed working with them. There was a great energy which they brought to the project. The kids were so talented and extremely matured.
It was selected at Film Bazaar and that was the first step. And some mentors, who saw the film, were confident about it getting selected at the Berlinale so we sent it there. We got to know very late that the film was selected.
When the film was screened at Berlin, it was a full house. The 1400 seater auditorium where it was screened was jam packed with kids and we got a 7 minute standing ovation. It was amazing to see the reaction. The jury was made up of children who asked us some great, mature questions. Since then Killa has had a great run at more than 35 festivals.
It is an important thing. Films like Court, Labour Of Love and Masaan which have won acclaim at international festivals are projecting Indian cinema globally. It feels great to be a part of these films.
I am waiting to see how Killa fares commercially. But while making the film, no one thinks about these things. It is more important to get your film made first. We can think about the rest of the things later on. Moreover you can never predict what will work and what won't. That is the magic of cinema.
We were waiting for the film to complete it’s festival run. And now with the National Award win, there is a good buzz about the film. The subject of the film has a timeless quality to it. That’s why we were waiting for the right time to release the film.
Every time is a good time to make films. Right now, there is an access to better cameras and equipments. Today anyone can make a film, thanks to the access of internet. Even lay people are becoming aware of the different technical aspects of filmmaking. The craft of filmmaking is reaching the lowest strata of the society and enabling them to make films. This will surely help to create many filmmakers who will be able to tell their stories in their own ways.