The only Tamil movie to have premiered at the Busan Film Festival will be screened in the city on Friday (organised by the Cinema Resource Centre). Director Vijay Jayapal tells CE that he has no regrets it did not get a theatrical release
Vijay Jayapal’s feature film Revelations, starring popular television actors Chetan and Lakshmi Priyaa Chandramouli, had its world premiere at Busan International Film Festival last year. It was the only Tamil project that was selected for the honour. An MBA graduate, Vijay worked for seven years in an MNC before he ventured into films. “Filmmaking was on my mind for a long time. I quit my job and started making short films. It helped me learn things and gave me the confidence to proceed further,” he says. The film will be screened at Ashvita Bistro on Friday, and CE caught up with Vijay for a chat about the film and its screening, which is being organised by The Cinema Resource Centre. Excerpts follow…
It’s the only Tamil film that was selected for Busan Film Festival. How does it feel?
It’s an amazing feeling. Busan is Asia’s biggest film festival. It really helped us garner a lot of attention and being the only Tamil film in the line-up was an icing on the cake.
Tell us about Revelations.
It is a relationship drama which talks about marriage, sexuality and loneliness. The film is set in Kolkata, where we shot extensively. I chose Chetan and Lakshmi Priyaa, as they are fantastic actors.
What’s the story about?
It is inspired by a few real life people whom I know and things that have happened in their lives. In India, marriage is a means for a lot of men to suppress and oppress the aspirations and desires of women. That’s how it began and became Revelations.
Will it have a theatrical release?
My objective was to make people watch it some way or the other. The film has so far travelled to nine international film festivals including Goteborg, Osaka, MAMI and IFFK. The film has also been released worldwide on Netflix. I wanted to have a limited theatrical release, but couldn’t raise the money. I have no regrets. Netflix has enabled audiences in 190 countries to watch it with subtitles in more than 20 languages. What’s more, I will also be recovering our cost.
Were film festivals always an option for you?
Revelations is an independent art house film meant for a niche audience. It’s not a commercial film. I always knew that festivals are important for films to gain visibility and reach people. I worked out a clear festival strategy for the film and screened it to festival programmers and curators. Busan happened eventually, and it opened the gates for us to get into other festivals.
Any challenges you faced?
I produced the film with my own money. I had to take loans, pledge my mother’s jewels and break my FDs to fund the film. It was tough, but I had no other choice. And shooting the film in Kolkata was challenging. I had never been to the city before and shooting with a local unit was intimidating. We were making the film on a tight budget. and we did a lot of guerrilla shoot in sync sound. I was fortunate to have a passionate team and they worked tirelessly to make this film a success.
What are your inspiration...
I draw inspiration from world cinema. I’m a big fan of European, Japanese, Iranian and Chinese cinema. In that way, I would say my sensibilities lean towards realistic, non-commercial films.
Anything in pipeline?
I have a couple of scripts ready. I’m planning to make one of them in Hindi. I haven’t zeroed in on which one I will work on first. It depends on financial aspects.
(Revelations will be screened at Ashvita Bistro on March 17 at 7 pm)