Ajay GnanaMuthu had a script, a script that involved high inflow of funds and required meeting hell lot of people. These two factors stood strong in making him shelf the idea for some time and rather look for a story that would be made in a shoestring budget.
One Night, He was locked up in his room in Adyar and then is when he had his vision. A vision that gave birth to an interesting plot, that molded into a gripping script and then made into an horror movie which would be soon declared a boxoffice hit, that too in just a week.
Well if you have not watched Demonte colony, then Still I would advise you to read, the reasons you will understand in a while.
Joe: Where did you get it exactly Ajay? Lets start with the Inspiration for Demonte colony…
Ajay: Ask me Inspiration and I would point my room @ Adayar. The Visual references that was given to the art director was infact photos of this room. It was only there, we rehearsed the position of characters, and even the objects that you find, be it the T.V, Refrigerator or the Windows for that matter was exactly in the same position that you find in my room. The only difference being, My room is at Adayar and this is happening in Pattinampaakam (One of the Well known slums in Chennai).
Joe: That actually poses an interesting question. Pattinampakkam, busy slums in the city, not a favorable area for a ghost movie?
Ajay: I wanted to break that. These ECR’s seem like a cliche now. Let My film travel in a place like PattinamPaakam and let these 4 characters live atop in a room in a housing board but they are still going to be far from others so much so that, their room even get the reflection from the lighthouse once in every 4 seconds. Also the Slum look, the beach setting, thanks to those cool aerial shots, the Housingboard, I beleive these elements collectively contributed to the experience of the movie.
Joe: Talking about the experience, this was not a pure horror Film Isn’t it? What was the conversation you had with your team?
Ajay: Yes, true that. What we decided beforehand is that Demonte colony, though would be tagged in Horror genre, Still would be treated largely as a thriller film. The rationale was simple. Everything was happening in a single room and it is extremely important to trap the viewer without getting him bored. Supposedly if you take any horror movie, it would have a slow start, a gradual build up and one big scare. Now if Demonte, would have to be made in similar lines, then I think it would have messed up somewhere. How long would you scare him in a single room? On the other hand, an horror treated in the lines of Thriller, gave us many opportunities.
Joe: Many opportunities, as in?
Ajay: A thriller would need to have several high points and it should essentially be backed with strong twists in the script. If the entire portion is going to take place in a room, you need to make sure that your detailing is meticulous to the extent that the viewers should feel the trap inside. I think the secret here is our Preproduction. We finished our shot divisions well before the shoot and yeah we improvised while shooting.
Joe: But there has to be challenges while shooting in a single room. what was your crew size?
Ajay: Yes shooting in a single room with a big enough crew is not going to be easy. Hence we decided to go for a movable set. The advantage here is if only one axis is shown, the other walls will be extended.
Joe: How much would you appreciate the Cinematographer’s work here? He was an Associate of Santhosh Sivan, right?
Ajay: Yes he was and very happy with the way he shaped the movie. As I told, Our preproduction was solid. We understood that we have to stand out considerably in terms of Visuals. Arvind shot the whole Film in Arri Alexa, used Ultra-prime lenses, diopters for close up shots and We did use Go-Pro that helped us significantly in terms of detailing. Demonte Colony is an experimental film and We needed the audience to Feel it. Go Pro point of View shots mounted from fans and Arrow (of the Ouija board) are some good examples but these small instances definitely contributed to the high points in the movie, I believe.
Joe: I wanted to ask this. You had this Jillu character in the movie initially and Arulnithi was a male escort. I thought these elements among others would somewhere Connect in the end.
Ajay: Look, We know we are going to get stuck in a room after the interval and then the movie, is going to travel fast with all the serious tone. So why start with the same in the initial minutes. I wanted to let the audience settle, make a gradual inroad into the main theme and then pull them into Demonte. That was the original intention.
Joe: Pulling them into Demonte, Pulling them into your story, what’s all these success tell you now?
Ajay. That no matter whatever genre your movie is in, be it a mainstream movie, action flick, horror genre, or even an experimental flick for that matter, you can engage the audience with your storytelling and as long you know how to engage them, then you are fine and good!
A Student of Loyola visual communication, a finalist in Naalya Iyakkunar, An associate of A.R Murugadass, Has Ajay proved his worth in his debut?
Try going to Demonte colony, not the movie, but the real colony. It has become a tourist spot now!