Stills from the film
Stills from the film

Actor and stand-up comedian, Ashvin A Matthew’s directorial debut — 3Devi — is all set for release today

3Devi — starring Shuba Poonja, Sandhya Lakshminarayan, Jyotsna B Rao and Nikhil Bharadwaj among others — is a tale that celebrates the innate goddess within every human being

Being a woman is challenging. At some point in life, all of us face situations when we rely on an escape or simply break under pressure to an extent that only an impromptu getaway can fix us. And the three lead characters of the long-awaited Kannada film, 3Devi, do exactly that. Fed up with male chauvinism, an actress (Vijayalakshmi) and an assistant director (Sharanya) leave the film set while a bride-to-be (Maria) flees from her wedding — before they meet up and hit the road.

But this isn’t just another film shedding light on the hardships of patriarchy-infused lives or a movie that preaches to do better but a tale that celebrates the innate goddess within every human being — irrespective of gender. Thanks to this project, actor and stand-up comedian Ashvin A Matthew will now be making his debut as a writer, producer and director too — all while playing one of the antagonists in the film. “The film is based on stories of women in my life — family, influencers and friends. It is not feminist but inclined more towards an equalist idea because my grandparents instilled in me, that everyone is equal. Also now feminism has different meanings for different people,” Ashvin begins.

Ashvin Mathew
Ashvin Mathew

Although the film takes off with a trio who go on a road trip, things take a dark turn when a situation has them running for their lives but end up invoking their inner goddesses to fight back. “We were very meticulous when we wrote it. We finished the entire shoot in 24 days, including reshoots. Some sequences were extremely close to me and when I saw those scenes come alive — because again my actresses gave their best — it made me extremely emotional. In our film, none of the men have names. Their names are based on the roles they play, which is what the society has done to women. She’s a mother, she’s a maid, she’s a secretary — we turn those tables, ” the director shares.

The film also features three special songs. A Love Song for Goddesses is a celebration of the feminine spirit in every form. It’s a clarion call, a declaration of what the woman of today is, what she isn’t and also what it takes to be a part of her life. This anthem is an attempt at inclusivity and creating an equal platform for the binary and the non-binary — represented by a transgender artiste.

Then there’s the viral track, Kandha Padhya: A Lullaby for the Missing, which has been conceptualised to spread global awareness about women and children, who have gone missing from their homes, having fallen victim to human trafficking, slavery, kidnapping, abuse and other atrocities. The song is a plea from a mother who waits endlessly for her lost child, who may never be coming back home. “For Kandha Padhya we won a couple of awards at the One Earth Film Festival and Indie Short Fest and the track was even played at the Canadian Parliament. The third song which we just released as part of the trailer is called The Devi Rising. It’s a powerful track full of feminine spirit or feminine power. We tried to do something different, bring in a new kind of sound,” he reveals.

3Devi — starring Shuba Poonja, Sandhya Lakshminarayan, Jyotsna B Rao and Nikhil Bharadwaj among others — has been in the making since 2020. While it awaited a commercial release, the film travelled to several film festivals winning hearts and accolades. Sydney & Melbourne Lift-Off Film Festival 2021, Austria International Film Festival 2021, HIFF-HALO International Film Fest 2022, New Jersey Film Awards 2022 (won Best Cinematography, Best Special Effects Makeup and Best Director of a Feature, among others) and Silk Road Film Awards Cannes 2021 (won Best Actress, Best First Time Director, Best First Time Producer and more).

“I remember watching this documentary about John Houston and Clint Eastwood where they said that 80 percent of a director’s job is done if you cast the right people and I’m extremely lucky that that has happened. You don’t need to direct them. They know their lines. You tell them what the playground is and then just let them play. And you’re lucky if you can just capture everything that they do. There is a lot of excitement, there’s a lot of pride and because we are releasing it ourselves; now, it’s all on how people receive it,” the writer concludes.

Watch 3Devi in theatres from May 24.


X: @Sru_Kulkarni