Sidharth Srinivasan – Pairon Talle // Reel Illusion Films
Founder of Reel Illusion Films and Director of Pairon Talle – Sidharth Srinivasan, talks to IndiEarth about the film’s screening. Pairon Talle hits theatres today via PVR Cinemas Director’s Rare in Delhi, Gurgaon, Mumbai and Pune.
IndiEarth: Reel Illusion Films, arguably amongst the top non-mainstream Film production houses in the country caters to a global audience. Whats the story behind its formation?
Sidharth: Your introduction to Reel Illusion Films is very flattering but – truth be told – RIF is a cottage industry outfit that I set up in 2005 for the simple reason that nobody else was willing to produce the films I wanted to make, the way I wanted to make them! As an independent filmmaker one willy-nilly ends up becoming one’s own producer as well, out of compulsion as opposed to out of a desire to be a “producer”. Creative control is very important to me. At one stage or another one has to relinquish control in order to give one’s film a life of its own, but the actual creative process should be as unfettered as possible… My last feature AMAVAS starring Konkona, Tara Sharma, Victor Bannerjee and Mahesh Manjrekar, made when I was 27 years old, sans any godfather or industry connections, was completed but had been languishing in a can, un-released, for over 3 years in spite of distribution offers (it remains unreleased)… I was throwing punches in the air and feeling utterly helpless because everything was out of my control. The desire to have only myself to blame for the success/failure of my film slowly grew inside of me. And then, like a sign from the heavens above, I got a documentary project from UNESCO which required me to set up my own production company. Thus RIF was born and the process of making our first feature PAIRON TALLE was initiated. I must add here that SWAMOHITA, my debut short, which premiered at Venice in 2000, when I was 23, was also independently produced by myself on 2 year old balance 35mm stock and sheer pluck. So I guess this go-for-broke attitude has been there for a very long time…
IndiEarth: You have worked with small budget projects, such as your debut film, Swamohita. What was your experience dealing with budget constraints and how did it affect the making of the movie?
Sidharth: Budget constraints, relatively speaking, can be a good thing to the extent that a lower budget translates to more creative freedom and a bigger budget comes with more vested interest. This is a generalization of course, but quite true in my experience. Budget constraints also force one to think out of the box and if history has taught us anything then necessity is the mother of invention!
IndiEarth: Since then you have completed many award winning films. How do you feel Reel Illusion Films has grown in terms of experience since the first movie?
Sidharth: It’s tough but one makes mistakes on each and every project, and grows with every one of them. I promise myself every time that I won’t repeat myself on the next one but end up making new errors! But I guess I want it this way – to be able to have my own mom & pop store, if you will, and do what I believe in. This is easier said than done as money is hard to come by but to have come this far with the support of reputed partners such as the Huberts Bals Fund, the Global Film Initiative, PVR etc, I guess we’ve been doing something right…
IndiEarth: Reel Illusions is actively involved with bodies such as UNESCO and other government bodies. Any future projects lined up?
Sidharth: We’ve made a film for UNESCO on the world heritage site of Hampi and another feature-doc for PSBT on urbanization in Delhi titled AN OUTPOST OF DELHI. Over and above this we’ve done documentation work for Delhi Govt in collaboration with an NGO called Griha.
But other than this, PAIRON TALLE has taken up much of our time and energy. And now we’re at an advanced stage of development on my next feature – an India/UK/Korea co-production titled TRAAS (THE PROFANE). TRAAS is an elevated genre film – a truly “Indian” horror movie for grownups! Our partners on the film are Finecut of Korea, one of the world’s most reputed sales agents responsible for such contemporary classics as OLDBOY, THE HOST and PIETA (which just won the Golden Lion at Venice) amongst countless others. Rook Films of UK – the makers of KILL LIST and SIGHTSEERS (Cannes Directors Fortnight 2012), both projects which have garnered much critical and commercial acclaim and sold globally are also on board. We are currently looking for partial funding from India and hope to start shooting early 2013.
IndiEarth: Tell us about Pairon Talle, something unique, that only Sidharth Srinivasan knows about the film.
Sidharth: PAIRON TALLE has taken over 4 years to come this far! It’s been exhausting, very taxing both personally and professionally, but utterly exhilarating! I wouldn’t have it any other way… One truth that nobody knows is that my bank accounts have become totally empty on numerous occasions during the course of making PAIRON TALLE, and nobody would even imagine how running on empty my situation is even today – but I’m still standing with a feature film releasing in theatres! There, I’ve let the cat out of the bag… LOL!
IndiEarth: Your practical advice – based on experiences – for budding independent filmmakers in India?
Sidharth: Be true to yourself. I sincerely believe that if you’re honest to yourself as a filmmaker, then you will also be honest to your potential audience. While making indie films you have to strike a fine balance between keeping budgets VERY low, while also not compromising technically/artistically. Social media can go a long way in disseminating your film and if you can afford a social media agency to plug your film then do so. The festival route is arguably the best way for an indie to be recognized and travel and – hopefully – sell. Try and secure a sales agent upon completion/rough cut stage, travel to markets and show sales agents your trailers, promos etc. They know best on how to position and push your film, but its not easy getting a sales agent. All this would hopefully go a long way in helping you try and secure a domestic release – to the extent that your film is common knowledge and has already achieved a certain traction internationally.
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