Chillout, Be Lazy But Find Your Voice: Filmmaking Lessons from Vikram-Vedha Director Duo

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When you have everything to do, you can’t be cool,

When you have things not planned in order, you cannot be settled

And even when you do have things planned and in order, you still cannot be cool, because you have to accomplish them, be sincere to the rules you put and follow it.

So Does this mean you can’t chill out ever when you are at work?

I beg to differ, because there is someone, infact two whom i met in the recent times, who has everything to do, but still cool. Who sometimes plan, sometimes unplan, but still calm and composed. And the best of all, they adhere to their self imposed rules without having to shed any bit of their ‘cool’ness.

Thanks to Pushkar and Gayathri, the Vikram Vedha success duo who are chilling on Monday nights with Game of Thrones, while writing Blockbusters. Wondering how they pull all this off, read on.

Chilling out with Rules:

Sounds like an odd combination. My creative head thought the same. However, it turns out you can be disciplined and lazy all at once. Pushkar and Gayathri are the directors of the successfully running Vikram Vedha and if you already miss the film and want more, don’t worry because their next is a mystery thriller too. They have it all planned. Like how they have been planned ever since their first film. Their previous films Ooram PO and Vaa, Quarter cutting was both humor tried in a different sense. Looks like They have it all planned. That is why they are cool. But mind you, Cool and Lazy are two different things. You can laze and still be suffering thinking about the incomplete works. But, to be cool comes only when you know what you are doing with life. Pushkar and Gayathri seem to admit they are lazy and they are cool about it because they know that’s what they are doing. It’s part of their life and they enjoy it. That doesn’t mean they don’t work. They work all the time in their minds, every piece of thing they witness becomes an inspiration. From a scene in House of cards to a painting next-door, everything becomes an inspiration to their thinking minds. And, when you put in so much, you obviously ace at what you are doing. Vikram Vedha is a product of this mastery.

Do it until you know it.

Gayathri and Pushkar are all into trying new things, this is not for the sake of trying it. They try things that enhance the feel they want to give for the movie. Vikram Vedha is a dramatic mystery thriller. They did every detailing, every technical nuance in the film to bring a dramatic feeling into it. The first shot of the movie was supposed to tell it, give the look and feel of the movie. What starts as a slow scene of the introduction of characters and their characterization suddenly turns into a shooting area to bring this drama out. To bring out this drama, the entire scene was a single shot.

It was of course difficult. People had to jump from cranes and run ahead to shoot it. The camera had to be tossed and caught back; camera operator had to do stunts to get the scene, and after all that post-production had to work on it, but it was all worth the effort.  The scene gave us the rush that was maintained throughout the movie.

A film is just 50% its story, says Pushkar and Gayathri. The remaining 50% comes from all the other elements and how much the director gets involved with it.

The screenplay, cinematography, sound, etc. everything makes the movie. In VV, the screenplay came to life after the whole story was written and ready. The story was ready as scenes that when placed in linear order would make sense and make sense when shot in a nonlinear way, as they did. These scene cards were placed in different combinations to give us VV. The amount of time and effort they put into everything is amazing.

The duo says they kept objects in the forground and shot the subjects keeping them in the middle.  In every scene except the climax, they did that because they wanted the audience not to just stare at the screen, but get the feeling of being there, spying these people and give them the feeling they are part of it. However, why not the climax? Because there we Sit back and look at the two complementing each other. VV is a story about the black and white fighting against the gray. Everyone has his or her own justice and what is justice to one is immoral to another. This fight depicted in the movie is not only through Maddy and Vijay, but also from the colors, the costumes and the details. Another important factor the duo says that will bring the drama while making the film is the music. The Music director of the film, Sam had BGM’s ready for the shoot. The scenes were shot with the actual feel and rhythm. This is not their first time; they have used the same technique in their previous films as well.

Pushkar and Gayathri believe when you are clear as to what you want to say, you can start your scripting with clarity. This clarity is highly essential. You can structure your film in any way, but you cannot get carried away by it, at the end, the story is what that matters.

Vikram Vedha was born when they knew they had to talk about the fight of Black and White against gray. There were many ways to do it. An old example was Vikramadhithiyan tales, which had the same line. When that fell onto the plate, 15 Veda stories followed. The process was a long one, to eliminate and keep the things that would work. To know this, they say, research is important.

Any mystery starts with the end, once you know the revelation you work on the various things that will come at the start to make this revelation sensible. The cold war between Maddy’s team and the higher officials has a background research. The rift between IPS officers and on field officers is an existing one.

Major takeaways from the duo

Direction is predominantly a man’s world, to excel as a couple means something. As I talk to them, I realize that they complement each other, as he talks, she pauses and he finishes to give the baton to her. This understanding is an advantage as there is a genuine critic for the other. They teach us that teamwork is advantageous and positive when it is the right team with the right understanding.

It’s maybe because of this understanding that we got a lead pair that essayed equality and importance to characters in grace. Priya was not just a female addition, she was the neutral person between Black and white, who understood the two sides but still portrayed the practicality. Her costumes also reflect the same. The duo never wants to use a character which, when removed from the film would make no impact, and how does this clarity arise?

Their final message to the aspirants should answer,

“Know what you want to say, have a clarity on what your voice and perspective is, build your story on that”.

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