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IFFI 2018: Almost 7 months of VFX went into Olu, says filmmaker Shaji N Karun

Shaji N Karun's Olu and Aditya Suhas Jambhale's Kharvas opened the Indian Panorama feature and non-feature sections, respectively, at the 49th International Film Festival of India.

Suparna Thombare

On Thursday 21 November, the Indian Panorama (Non-feature) section at the 49th International Film Festival of India opened with the Marathi film Kharvas, directed by Aditya Suhas Jambhale, while Malayalam film Olu, directed by National award-winning director Shaji N Karun, opened the Indian Panorama (Feature) section.

The two directors addressed the media in a press conference after the screening of their respective films.

While Kharvas is a 38 minute-long film about a woman dealing with the trauma of stillbirth, Olu is a fantasy about the meaning of pure love. Though both films seem starkly different at the outset, they have common themes of childbirth and art running through them.

A big chunk of Shaji's Olu unfolds under water, with the film's prime character, played by Drishyam (2013, Malayalam) actress Esther Anil, somewhere between life and death, waiting for redemption.

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About bringing alive the beautiful underwater portions, Shaji said, "Nobody can speak underwater, but it is a fantasy. She was there on the green mat throughout. Generally an actor gets the energy from the other actors to perform, but she is there alone. And she had to give birth to a baby also. At this age, imagining that was also difficult for her.

"Almost seven months of VFX went into it. The fish, the floor, the water, the plants [which are also a character]. The way it translates her emotion to the plants and then the womb [had to be portrayed]. The lighting and everything else had to come through in the visuals. My VFX people [Excel VFX] were excellent, gave me the courage to go ahead and make this film," the acclaimed filmmaker told Cinestaan.com.

"Like Titanic (1997), half of that film was shot in the studio. The VFX is not for showoff, it is an integral part of the tools of telling the story," he added.

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Jambhale, writer and director of Kharvas, which was also an official selection in the Short Film Corner section at Cannes earlier this year, said that seeing his film opening the Indian Panorama section felt like a dream.

"Four years ago I was at IFFI lining up to watch films, and now my film has been selected as the opening film, boosting my confidence that anything is possible, you just need to focus on work, and craft and dedication are key," he said.

"Kharvas was an intense story about motherhood and stillbirth. And Veena Jamkar [who plays the protagonist] has done a brilliant job. This film is about the struggle of a mother trying to find her peace in turmoil. One is the fight within and the second is the most important — the fight with the perception of society," he explained.

"Kharvas was shot in Goa in five days," Jambhale said.

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