Summation of Everything What I ‘ve Learnt Till Now : Filmmaking Lessons from Kumbalangi Nights

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One of the reasons why the rest of the world is still looking down at Indian cinema is because, they haven’t experienced the right kind of Indian cinema that’s happening here (at least according to me). I’ve had this feeling for the last couple of years or so. There have been many films that made me feel this way. But, with the release of Kumbalangi Nights (2019), I can nearly vouch for it till my gut for sure. Yes, it’s not because Kumbalangi Nights is the best among the lot, it’s just that my level of tolerance has reached a saturation with Kumbalangi just being one of those films that yet again is going to go unnoticed.

This article isn’t about my appreciation for Kumbalangi nights. Neither is it about why Kumbalangi nights has to not go unnoticed. It’s about how Kumbalangi Nights has near perfectly combined all filmmaking perspectives, observations, techniques that have been discussed on from all these years. With a little bit of comparisons with other films, we will see what all lessons that makers of Kumbalangi Nights have imbibed in this film, which again is a lesson in it itself.

Outside India, films like Avengers and other commercial flicks  have huge fan base. But, these films are never viewed as a step in growth of their respective film industries (growth not in terms of money) by the industry and the people as well. Similarly, we have many films here too that make huge money but don’t take our industries any forward. Somehow,we don’t realize that these films don’t take our entire film industry at par with the kind of cinema outside. This is why I’m going to compare some of the money making films with Kumbalangi nights to give ourselves a reality check.

Subplots & plots travel concurrently!

Subplots in most films aren’t valued. Let’s take Petta (2019).  What did the love track with Simran have to mean in the film?  What did the whole bobby Simha sequence contribute to the film? People might have different answers as to the purpose of the film and many things. But, with respect to a neatly well crafted film, these subplots need to be cohesive and must either complement the story or bring about a change in the character which will again result in the character being decisive in the story. Very few films do this. Take Zero (2019). What value did the entire mars episode have in the story? Even the entire Katrina episode, what larger effect did it play in the film? We just don’t know.

In Kumbalangi Nights (2019), every frame counts. Each subplot exactly does what I’ve mentioned above. The death of Saji’s friend results in a change in saji’s character that brings upon a change in the story. In fact, it is too difficult for us to point out which is a subplot and which is the main plot as both of them run through so cohesively that not a single frame is present for the sake of evoking laughter, cheers, or crowd pulling.

Character traits aren’t a gimmick after all!

Character traits aren’t present for the sake of it in Kumbalangi Nights.The trait somehow gives depth to the character and these traits are woven logically. For instance, one of the brother listens to MJ’s songs which is just a detail about the character. But, in another frame, we are shown that another brother dances to MJ’s songs. Now, its natural that siblings in a household get to grow in a similar environment. But, we don’t expect that particular trait to be available for us in a film as it is such a small trait & has very less significance. But, these makers have valued it that makes us know about the lead characters more efficiently. This is exactly opposite to what the makers of Zero (2019) did. In zero, SRK is able to move stars in the sky (has no purpose at all), this has no logical reasoning nor does have any say in the story.  Similarly, in Thupakki Munnai (2018), Vikram prabhu doesn’t have one of his fingers and wears a gloves, I don’t know for what reason.

Setting up of the world?

Both Zero & Petta happen in a different kind of cities. Zero is set in Meerut and Petta is set in darjeeling for the most time. But, these worlds haven’t been explored at all in these films. The setting of these films in these places is looked upon as just a gimmick rather than a purpose in the film. These include reasons like aesthetic looks of the film, language gimmicks that could be given to the characters. But, in Kumbalangi Nights, we are given the feel of the whole world of this film. We are given ample details about our characters in this place that make us connect with them during the course.When the world and the details are set, we become a part of it and feel what they feel.

Lead characters and mix of genres!

The term Lead characters is valued in Kumbalangi Nights. In contrast to what happened with Petta (2019), every character that appears on the screen has some amount of purpose in the story. By every character, Literally everyone. The concept of hero and villain is being ditched nowadays. But having all characters contribute in the storytelling is something that we must learn from this film.

A commercial film today has mix of genres/elements. It has fights, romance, heroism, comedy. But, all of these are present with almost no say in the story. What if all of these present in a film with apt purposes in the story? That’s a film like Kumbalangi Nights. It has comedy, love, deaths & thrills put together. But, somehow films like these are not being termed as a commercial film for reasons that are unknown to me.One of the reasons might be that these films aren’t accessed by all viewers. Nevertheless, I’m sure when the former kind of films cease to happen, these kind of films will be given the term commercial and Indian films will not be looked down by the rest of the world.

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