February 2, 2007
What makes Shiva tick
It can now be disclosed that I have a film-making nephew, Shivakumar Ramanathan; and his 40-minute audio-visual creation – The Portent – was screened at a recent festival for niche films in Mumbai. This must come as a revelation for many of those who claim to know Shiva, and this includes his extended family of aunts and uncles and a platoon of cousins. All that they knew till now was that Shiva holds a day job, as a regular guy in a regular company, in Los Angeles.
What was unknown and appreciated even less was his romance with film-making.. Shiva slogs during weekends on things films and filming. He has been doing this double-take in life ever since he moved to LA (was it a decade back, Shiva, or more?). So far as I can gather Shiva Keeps himself in touch with few friends outside his film school circle. He has no family (by which I mean wife and kids). And his mother’s constant concern is that her only son is pushing 34, and still unmarried, maintains a punishing pace of work; and he brushes aside suggestions that it was time he set up family. Shiva puts films first.
Putting films before family is not an idea that a middle-class Iyer mother from a Chennai’s conservative locality (Kotturpuram) can accept. But I reckon my young nephew can’t be faulted for thinking that a wedding could wait till he made his first marriage (with films) work. Now that The Portent has happened, would Shiva reorder his priorities in life? A delegation of his well-wishers – sister, two aunts and a nephew – that returned from the Mumbai film-fest (Shiva couldn’t make it) was pleased with his accomplishment, but had on its mind just one question: ‘What next, Shiva? They didn’t mean his film-making – ‘life’s about other things as well, such as shaadi ‘.
I guess I am getting preachy. Surely,Shiva didn’t send me his DVD to have me psychoanalyze him on the pretext of writing about his film. Speaking of which, Shiva’s 44-minute offering -The Portent – is on paranormal phenomenon, with some blood and bullets thrown in. Violence is not explicit, but is menacingly suggestive. Which heightens effect. My wife, on learning about the theme, didn’t want us to watch the DVD at night.
Visuals are pretty sharp, though I felt the soundtrack of dialogues could do with more clarity. Or was it only me who couldn’t catch the words because of wax in my ear? Speaking of soundtrack I thought slipping in a bit of tabla as background music to some action shots was cool.
The Portent could leave an involved viewer with questions. The film is on Ben Fisher, a medical man troubled by his innate power to see other people’s future, not just of his patients but total strangers He knew what was coming for them in the near future,but couldn’t explain how. Forewarning those facing impending death or violence wasn't always a good idea. He could be implicated. Anyway he was rarely believed by anyone. And he could not do anything to avert the tragedy he knew was waiting to happen.
My two question: 1) Does Ben’s power extend to people living beyond a certain geographical radius? Is there a range limit to his psychic-radar? I mean, could Shiva have given his story an added dimension of a political thriller by granting his lead player the power to see what the future holds for those who live in the White House? The Portent was shot in LA; and I can even identify the locale in some scences - Shiva's studio in an Orange County apartments complex
2) Is Ben’s power limited to predicting violence and deaths alone? Why doesn’t he foresee some nice and pleasant things happening in people’s lives?