What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters to what lies within us.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Muthukrishnan Palani is a living example of Emerson’s inspirational passage. Bogged down by financial needs, Muthukrishnan took to a regular 9 to 5 job but did not let his dreams go away. His love for movies remained in him. He looked for an opportunity and when it did not come, he stood up to make his own short films using basic digital camera and a mobile phone torch as the ‘lighting setup’!
Today, Muthukrishnan Palani is winning awards and admiration as he has captured the hearts of global audience with his short films in diverse genres. Hardcore film lovers are taken aback at how he shoots the chilling thrillers with basic camera, minimum actors and excellently scripted takes.
Half Samosa is glad to cover Muthukrishnan Palani and his truly inspiring life.
Half Samosa: Your short film H.. has been shot in two days with only 2 actors, and it has kept audience in their seats for full 10 minutes! It has been nominated in 3 international short film festivals and 2 domestic short film festivals and it is critically acclaimed as well. How did you do all this?
Muthukrishnan: For a film with only two actors, it is actually difficult to keep the audience engaged. We had to make sure that our script was managed very well. We had to keep each and every moment of the film interesting and moving. . If you see well, the shots done are in different places but in the edit we managed to keep it as one and going.
H.. was received quite well in the international film festivals. It got screened in many places. It has been officially selected and nominated in the GoldenSun Short Film Festival at Malta. It is also nominated and selected as Semi-Finalist at the International Open Film Festival (IOFF) this year. At Medff (Mediterrean Short Film Festival) held in Italy, H.. was the award winner under the Fool’n Smash Category (More Innovative Movie).
Half Samosa: H.. deals about Sleep Hallucination and its effects, which is quite an unusual topic for making a film on.
Muthukrishnan: H.. is my third short film. I have always believed in creating new things so I decided to take a new step while making it. This is the film which has showed me in a different light as a filmmaker.
Half Samosa: It is especially challenging when you are low on budget and have to do it all yourself.
Muthukrishnan: It is difficult at times as I could not use any of the assistant directors in any of my short films, we don’t have budget for that. However on the brighter side, it enhances my skills and strengths in all the aspects.
Half Samosa: While H.. was in English you have made two films in Tamil as well.
Muthukrishnan: Yes, my first Tamil short film was Dushtan which deals on police encounter with goons. In this I set a goal where one scene can be narrated for ten minutes. I made the screenplay in a reverse way so that the audience will get the wow factor at the end.
Half Samosa: That’s interesting.
Muthukrishnan: En peyar pena is my fifth and second Tamil short film. Based on a father and son relationship, I have used only object and voice to narrate the script; I didn’t use any character face in this story. Sometimes things explain more about life than humans do.
Half Samosa: That is a lot of brave experiment one must say! How long have you been making films?
Muthukrishnan: Well, I am very passionate on filmmaking since my college days but I did not get a chance to pursue it at that time and had to move into a profession. At one time I had to move to Bangalore where fortunately I got more chances to explore films and its making. I made my first short film there in Aug 2014 and that is how my journey started.
Half Samosa: Can you tell us more about you? We would love to know more your story.
Muthukrishnan: My native town is Neyveli, a small and beautiful place in Tamil Nadu. My first inspiration is my dad. When we watched movies at home he told me how this scene could have taken in that way. He would explain each and every scene in the movie making me reconstruct it in my mind.
After my graduation as a B.Tech I moved into an IT job but my interest on movies kept on increasing. After moving to Bangalore whenever I had free time, I made use of that. I started writing stories and shared it with my office friends. They found those stories interesting and encouraged me to make a short film.
Half Samosa: Which was the first one?
Muthukrishnan: My first short film was It Exists and when I started I did not know anything about editing. So I had to engage an editor but when he charged it was a bit high and I could not get the script until I paid the full amount.
Luckily I met Saisudheer who helped me to pay the money and get the movie done. Since then Sai has been with me in all my works as a mentor, well-wisher and more. I am grateful to Sai because he introduced me to his friends Bhaskar, Surendra, Praveen. They support me well and later we four started our production house as Rise of Four Production.
Half Samosa: What was It Exists about?
Muthukrishnan: It Exists is basically a horror film but through this I have tried to create a social awareness to help people when they meet an accident.
Half Samosa: What other challenges did you face?
Muthukrishnan: I made this short film using mobile phones and basic digital camera and in this I used mobile phone torch as the lighting setup. With the help of two friends I was able to make this film. When I approached my friends for acting, some turned it down. Then the story had to be made interesting to hold the interest of the audience. However due to less media exposure we are not able to reach much audience.
Half Samosa: Along with direction, are you also involved in other roles like acting or script writing?
Muthukrishnan: Yes, I am script writing almost all the short films. However I do not get involved in acting since I am very poor in it 🙂
Half Samosa: What is the genre you prefer to work on?
Muthukrishnan: All my five short films are each in a different genre. I don’t want to restrict myself by putting into one genre. I love cinema and I want to explore more. But I do like to make the audience go nail biting – ‘what’s going to happen in the film next ’ – which is my style of film-making.
Half Samosa: Which was the most difficult film to make?
Muthukrishnan: Day in the Life was my second short film and it used four languages in the film (Tamil, Telugu, Hindi, Kannada). It is the story of three different women in the life of three men. Now to break all expected stereotypes, I didn’t use any female artist in this. I have used only voices for the female characters. This is the film where I faced so many challenges in scripting, dialogues, and screenplay. This film has been critically acclaimed.
Half Samosa: That is truly appraisable. What is keeping you up and going to make these kinds of films?
Muthukrishnan: I have tried so many times to join as an assistant to a director but I could not get that chance and after making these short films I am trying to approach the producer also. Even after discouragement, I believe in my skills. Cinema is a lot about skills and experience. Managing both my office work and short films is difficult but then, if you have love something the obstacles seem to vanish away.
I get my motivation from every film maker – I see and learn the many aspects in them. Moreover the satisfaction of creating is the creator’s reward. When I see my dreamt up characters come alive in the screen I feel satisfaction – and that is my true motivation. I always believe in these words ‘Everything is nothing until it happens’.
Half Samosa: Thank you for giving us this awesome interview. We wish you all the success in the world. You have inspired people to follow their dreams.
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