95-year-old Supriya Cheriyan steals the show in Krishnakumar's latest short, Can You Hear Me?
The adorable piano-playing and sarcastic ammachi in Krishnakumar Balasubramanian's (of The Little Theatre) latest digital venture Can You Hear Me? projects a whole new level of cool one could aspire to achieve. "I'm 95 years old. Whatever you have done, I have also done," she giggles at her grandson (played by Nirmal Sekhar) who's trying to confide in her about his deep dark secret in this three-minute short film. In this short, that has now been selected for 'My Rode Reel International Short Film Competition', Supriya Cheriyan (Didu) grabs all the attention despite the slightly dark events that go on to unfold in the narrative.
"I wrote this for her. I knew for a fact that she wants to act. In fact, at 92, she had played Princess Leia in one of my earlier productions," recalls KK. "The whole play was her narrating the flashback of her entire life. When she forgot a line on stage, she improvised and said, 'You know, I'm really old. Can you jog my memory and tell me what actually happened' and the audience had a wonderful laugh. She’s an incredible actor."
Talking further about how the short film came about, KK says, "Earlier in February, I had gone to Australia from where I had picked up a Rode microphone. Right before I was going to shoot this film that was initially planned to be at least five-minutes-long, I received an email from them about this competition. But the submission would close on October 7 and we had just five days to put something together. The entire process from scripting to editing, everything was done in those five days and we submitted it 20 minutes before the deadline."
Now featured on the My Rode Reel website and on YouTube, the film shows off stunning frames, pleasing aesthetics and high-quality audio besides the commendable performances. "We wanted the film to look like a painting. We didn't want too much movement but wanted every frame to look great. We didn't want to compromise on the production quality at all. In the end, it's a visual medium and if we don't have that aspect sorted, we don't have a great film. People tend to forget that 70 per cent of what you absorb when you see something on video, is the sound," shares KK who's been in the theatre industry for the past 12 years.
The original score for the movie have been composed and mixed by Jerry Silvester Vincent, cinematography done by Shiva Darshan and edited by Aravind Jagan.
As for the challenges of filming during COVID-19, KK adds, "With a 95-year-old in the team, I couldn't plan much of the shoot outdoors. So I had to tailor the film in a way that all her portions were shot inside the house. Also before the shoot, we had the whole crew tested, we made sure only very few people are on the team. So all of us doubled up as assistants and took on multiple roles."
Can You Hear Me? is now available on YouTube