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?


Anonymous said...

'The Portent' sounds like a fragment from M. Night Shyamalan's movie and penchant for supernatural is Shyamalan's forte. Why copy him? The NRIs in America try to prove that they are much more than 'program coders' or 'silcon chip tweedlers' who are there for bucks. I have been sent all kinds of pieces, poems, DVDs .. to prove it and all of them turned out to be little more than trash. Breaking into realms of 'program coding' or'silicin chip tweedling' is one thing and into performing arts area is another as M.Night Shyamalan who was raised from his diaper days in America found out. He studied in one of the prestigious arts schools in NewYork, had American accent, mannerisms like them etc.. He had no other vocation except dabbling in flim making. Your nephew is out to prove something? Then as an Indian with Madras accent, he should stick to things native- like Sathyajit Ray. Why not portray the machinations of a typical corrupt Indian politician?

Did you say his mother in a conservative town in TamilNadu? There are none there! My own ancestral village with a couple of hundred houses have inhabitants indulging in 'Western-style' tastes. Almost no one there young wears saree or dhoti, into designer clothing, listening to pop music, talking with American slangs and more importantly eating burgers and fried chicken in a joint not far away from the hamlet. Shiva, Shiva!

South Indian bachelor ( so called) in LA ? I can't recognise and neither or my friends! The Latino girls will get him if they have not got him already! Those who said they are bachelors from orthodox Iyer families from South India, were discovered to be heavily into two Ds ( drinks and dames). More likely Shiva will soon present a Latino daughter-in-law to his mother! Living in the West with a traditional Indian wife and kid, having seen nephews from my own and friends' orthodox families of yester years I can say that LA and Sanfrancisco with their colourful styles will suck in an Iyer bachelor to their folds fast. Shiva,Shiva!

Ranga said...

One thing, paranormal and blood and bullets don't mix. Manoj Shyamalan, sorry, M Night Shyamalan would have told him so. Tabla background appear in all kinds of films- a friend of mine says in a Spanish-speaking film too!! I agree with all the observations of 'anonymous'. 'Kotturpuram' a conservative locality in Karunanidhi's Chennai? Unbelievable! I cannot find anything conservative these days in my ancestral town of Angarai near Tiruchi. Talking about supernatural
powers, India can offer plenty of them in holy men and women (from a saffron-clad holy man from Mysore who visits America frequently to a 'hugging goddess-incarnate' from Kerala who visits America every year!)all driven in cars with natural German sounding names!! Shiva could have a go at portraying what ticks
these holies, and why rational folks from a clever Indian professor of multimedia from Sandiego to the President of India who often speaks
about Science and Technology fall for a 'huggingg goddess-incarnate' from Kerala. He can throw in Bruce Willis sans his artillery with good measure as a devotee! That should
set fireworks in Hollywood and Bollywood!!

Anonymous said...

Shivakumar Ramanathan is a bit of mouthful and needs drastic restructuring if he has to succeed as a director. The shortened 'Shiva' won't do as it chimes with the names of software packages that outsourced Indian firms hoist on Westerners. Iyer parents have the annoying habit of concatinating names of Gods when it comes to naming their male offsprings. Young Shivaramakrishnan or young Shivasubramanian or young Ganapathysubramanian feels let down and forlorn in foreign lands. Why not consider the name of S Moonlight Ram as it is said in some circles that moonlight or lack of it has strange effect on human powers. The new name goes well with the supernatural theme of the film.