‘I like that we have made good Telugu content from Chennai’

…says writer-director Siva Ananth, as he joins directors Sarjun and Barath Neelakantan and actor Prasanna for a chat about their recent Aha anthology, Addham

Aha’s new anthology, Addham, is made up of three short films, Crossroads (directed by Barath Neelakantan), The Unwhisperable Secret (Siva Ananth), and The Road That Never Ends (Sarjun). All the stories speak of flawed judgments and centre on moral conundrums. Is stealing permitted when the victim is an evil man? Is infidelity excusable if your marriage is loveless? Can an accidental kill be tolerated when the perpetrator shows remorse? The complex stories are quite a departure from the otherwise simplistic, almost gimmicky content that pervades much of the regional OTT space. So that’s where I begin this conversation with the talented artists who have come together to make this Telugu anthology:

I found it to be quite a relief that Addham is nuanced and doesn’t spell out lessons. This quality of leaving conclusions to the viewer’s imagination is a far cry from the content usually found in the regional OTT space.

Siva Ananth: I think it speaks more of the limitation of filmmakers than of the audience. If OTT content is generally too definitive and narrow, it’s on the filmmakers. When we think of short stories, the names that come to my mind are writers like Sujatha, Pudhumai Piththan, JD Salinger, Edgar Allan Poe… These were all artists who trusted that the audience desired art of superior quality. The writer should believe that the audience is smarter than them.ADVERTISING

I quite enjoyed the look and feel of all the three films that make up Addham. Was it hard to execute this finish, what with all the lockdown restrictions?

Barath Neelakantan: The goal was always to make the films look as good as they can. All of us, including the DOPs, art directors and costume designers, worked towards this singular objective. There were challenges concerning locations and costumes, as you can imagine, but I think we have achieved what we set out to.

Sarjun: After reading all the three stories, I chose The Road That Never Ends, as it seemed to burst with visual potential. The other two stories mainly take place in the interiors, but now, having seen them, I can see that they have turned out to be visually stunning in a way I didn’t imagine. We had location-related challenges while shooting our film. Permissions were hard to secure, and until a day before shooting, we hadn’t even finalised some locations. But the overall output and reception makes me happy.

Siva: As filmmakers, we are not in a position to carry disclaimers asking the audience to be kinder towards our content as it was made under tough circumstances. So, we focus on doing the best we can with what we have.

Prasanna: Just the opportunity of getting to work, despite all these limitations, was euphoric. Though I did a couple of advertisements, it had been months since I had shot for a film. I had spent eight months without meeting my love (laughs).

For the remainder of this column (and there’s a lot more left, I assure you), visit https://www.cinemaexpress.com/stories/interviews/2020/oct/27/i-like-that-we-have-made-good-telugu-content-from-chennai-addham-aha-prasanna-20987.html

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