A modern day take on Shakepear’s Macbeth in Tulu (indigenous language spoken in the coastal region of Karnataka), PADDAYI will be shown to a limited Tulu audience in Theaters and banks on its plan to be shown to more festivals and seeks alternative sales methods.
While still struck by the speed at which Abhaya and his team pulled off this lovely story of greed, love and contemporariness we caught up with Abhaya and spoke to him about his film and of his plans around it.
Abhaya Simha’s 2008 film Gubbachigalu won the National Awards in India in the Children’s category. Knowing him personally from the Writing Program, his commitment to cinema and his urgency for personalness in his stories is anything to be taken lightly.
Tell us in brief about “Paddayi”.
This story of ambition, greed in Shakepeare’s Macbeth is relevant, it attains different meanings to each generation.
Today India is going through transitional times where the cultural, moral change is highly visible. This is changing the dynamics of community living too. Our film Paddayi brings in a sharp focus on this. In a culture which is deeply yet subconsciously rooted in its philosophical existence, what happens when carnal desires or ambitions creep in?
The film is made in Tulu language. It is an indigenous language which the fishing community (Mogaveera’s) in costal Karnataka speak. The film is based on this small fishing community. This community depends on their communal living for their survival. I have grown up around this community in my formative years. With all the dramatic cultural, political changes happening around, this community of Mogaveera’s has largely remained untouched. The film has attempted to capture the essence of this community and place the story of ‘Macbeth’.
Adaptation is supposed to be tricky. You picked up Macbeth, tell us about this journey you took.
This is my fourth film. But for the first time, I was attempting an adaptation from literature. While attempting a classic like Macbeth, it is always challenging because many film masters have already attempted many variations of this text and audience come to the screen with expectation and certain understanding of the text. Also adaptation by itself has many challenges like finding audio – visual idioms through which the essence of story could be narrated well. There are many powerful sequences in the play ‘Macbeth’ which needed to be translated to screen with a different grammar.
We also had to work on finding cultural localisation of the text. Spirits, belief system around it, scales of ambition in different times and culture and so many more things had to be accounted for in the process. It was challenging and exciting at the same time.
Is there a film festival strategy at place? How is this affecting your film so far.
We were blessed to be a part of Clinik Writer lab in 2017. It not only gave us insights in making this film an international project but also gave us insights into the film festival market and support system for such independent films. Since the film is made in Tulu, the home market is considerably small. At the same time, since the content is international in its appeal and spirit, we see a huge potential for the film in International Film Festivals and distribution. We are hoping a larger reach through the Film Festival strategy.
What professional attachments are you further looking for in the film?
We have now completed the production of the film and are looking at International Market opportunities. Content of the film is universal. The cultural localisation of the content makes this film completely modern and exotic in its appeal. So we hope to reach out to the world cinema audience through international collaborations, distributors, film festival screenings, and home video distribution among others.
How do you think this movie will stand out in the Karnataka Film Industry? (Equally curious to know more about Karnataka film scene.)
Though the film is made in Karnataka, film uses an indigenous language spoken by relatively a small community in Karnataka. Though the reach of the film would be limited due to the language used, we had to make this decision to be honest to the community and its cultural ethos we were working with.
Compared to Kannada or any other Indian language film, Tulu films are very few in numbers. So content dealt in this community are highly limited too. Paddayi is the first film to attempt a world literature in films in this language.
There are only 10 screens available in the Tulu speaking areas. They too are opens for films of other languages like Kannada, Malyalam, Hindi and English. So Tulu film often finds itself competing with other mighty films for its existence.
So making films in Tulu has huge challenges in terms of production, distribution or screenings. So we hope that the film is very unique not only in Tulu but also in Karnataka and Indian film industry.
Your first film had won a National Award. Are you expecting your films to be at the National Awards this time as well?
My first film Gubbachigalu (2008) won the National Award for the best Children’s film that year. It was a great honour to a fresh graduate from the film school. It is always great joy to receive that honour and there is always an expectation and hope for it.
For attachment enquiries into the project for festivals, sales or others write to Docskool at firstname.lastname@example.org on Facebook find Abhaya at https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=610650296
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Thapathali - Kathmandu, Nepal