VELLIPOMAKEY – A SILENT MELODY

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It seems like the golden time has started for Telugu cinema. In the verge of commercialism and heroism, Telugu cinema has lost its uniqueness and it failed in bringing out the director’s personal vision into the cinema. Commercial elements have become crucial for the directors as most of the producers saw the art of filmmaking in a business perspective. On a contrary to this Studio system, there emerged the Independent filmmaking system where films were produced outside of the major film studio system, in addition to being produced and distributed by independent entertainment agencies. These independent films were made on a very low budget with a minimal crew and cast which were mostly preferred to be shot in existed real locations. In India, most of the films are produced out of the studio system because there were hardly few film studios. In Telugu, Director Ravi Babu is said to be a pioneer of the Indie filmmaking through his film “Allari” starring Allari Naresh as a lead. Later Maruthi has come up with “E Rojullo”, which was made independently and was a huge success. Ravikanth’s “Kshanam” and Rama Raju’s “Mallela Theeram lo Sirimalle Chettu” were some of the examples of good indie films in Telugu.

It was when “Pellichupulu” by Tarun Bhascker has released; the entire game of filmmaking has changed. The movie has given rise to a new wave of indie films in Telugu cinema. Though the film has a general rom-com story, the execution and the way of presentation has made the entire difference. Later “Arjun Reddy” by Sandeep Vanga has set a new challenge for the filmmakers. Arjun Reddy has an exceptionally bold and unconventional writing and Sandeep has shown unique direction skills which made the film a huge success.

The indie film provides a great space for the director to present his own artistic vision. All the films mentioned above have shown the personal artistic vision and they are distinguishable in content and style apart from the regular cinema. Now it’s time for another indie cinema which is ready to break all the conventions of regular cinema. “Vellipomakey” is an indie film made by Yakub Ali Mohammed, a dentist by profession and a filmmaker by passion. He is an alumnus of Ramanaidu Film School, Hyderabad. This film trailer has been released on YouTube last year with the title “Ila Naa Jathaga”. The trailer has been trending for many days and has attracted producer Dil Raju. He bought this film and helped the team to complete rest of the post-production. This film was later named as “Vellipomakey”. This film can be noted as a game changer and a masterpiece in Independent Filmmaking. Here’s what we need to know about this film.

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STORY & SCREENPLAY:

Chandu, an employee of an animation company, desperately seeks love while both of his friends were already in love. He tries to seek the company of a newly joined girl Shruthi but fails. Later he gets connected to a beautiful girl Swetha on Facebook. They both fall for each other and what happened next forms the crux of the film.

It seems like Yakub has played with the audience senses very well. The screenplay is realistic in its nature and personal in its presentation. The screenplay revolves around a few characters. At a point of time, the audience starts questioning the existence of the character Swetha. Swetha seems like an imagination of Chandu. It is more a personal film, in which every scene seems to happen in our own life or our friend’s life.

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CASTING:

The film has very minimal characters. It has hardly 10 characters in total. Majorly it concentrates on 5 characters which are related to Chandu, excellently performed by Dinesh Naidu. All the cast have performed very well and looked so natural and real on screen. The film looks so natural because of the realistic appearance of the actors. None of the actors has performed to impress the audience and this is the way the film has become so personal and natural. The female lead actresses Shruthi (Supraja) and Swetha (Nithya Sree Reddy) delivered a brilliant and natural performance on screen. Choosing a right actor is a half success for the film.

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BUDGET & PRODUCTION DESIGN:

Surprisingly the budget of the film was very less. It was made with a budget of 20 Lakhs. Choosing the minimal crew and cast has reduced the budget of the film to an extent. The production design of the film seems very interesting and is to be appreciated for the thought and efforts. The team has chosen the real locations in Hyderabad to shoot the film. The outdoor scenes were shot around Ameerpet and its surrounding areas. The office Chandu works was the IACG Animation Studio in Dilsukhnagar. Ali didn’t stick to the locations he wants but has perfectly used the locations he has. So choosing already existed production designed locations have made their work easier. Lensing has played a major role in production design which will be discussed below.

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CINEMATOGRAPHY:

The cinematography was handled by Vidya Sagar and Akhilesh. Their work has been the biggest asset for the film. It has justified the story and realistic locations they have chosen. This film was shot using 5D Mark III camera.

LENSING:

There are filmmakers who ignore the Lensing. They chose whatever lens they want for shooting a scene/shot. A correct lens can generate the feeling that a director wants in the shot. Each focal length can portray unique dynamic emotions on the screen depending upon the emotion of the character. This film has a story which talks with the audience personally. There are hardly less wide and establishment shots of the locations for every scene. Avoiding the establishment of the locations in the wide shots have decreased the budget for the production design. Space which is visible in the frame has been designed properly. Every scene opens on the characters’ face and tries to personally involve and speak with the audience. It seems like most of the film was shot on Prime lenses like 50mm and 85mm. The Prime lenses always generate a personal space in the frame. The characters’ look very near to the audience resembles the reality. These prime lenses allow us to shoot in shallow depth of field, means the rest of the frame apart from the subject will be mostly in out of focus. This technical factor in the lens has helped in not revealing much of the background and the production design. These lenses also allow tighter framing, so that when the frame is filled with props or characters, the location looks complete. The camera only concentrates on the characters and their emotions in the film.

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HANDHELD & NATURAL LIGHT SHOOTING:

As most of the film was shot in real locations in public places, Ali has chosen to handheld the camera instead of going with heavy cinematic equipment. Because he felt it’s very easy to carry and shoot in public locations. There is no need to waste time on equipment and lens change every time. This film originally demands the handheld and more close-up shots, which could generate a personal mood on screen.

All the outdoor scenes were shot in natural light using reflectors. This avoids carrying heavy light equipment to each location. Shooting in natural light is a great challenge for the cinematographer as the direction, intensity and quality of the sunlight keeps on changing in a day.

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SOUND ENGINEERING:

Most of the sound engineering in the films was done in post production. The sound effects in the film are added later through Foley or existed sound library. This gives an unnatural feel and audience couldn’t connect properly with the scene. Recent times the process of sound mixing has been changed. The sounds were recorded live on location when the scene happens. These were later processed and added to the scene in the post. This gives a sync sound effect for the film. The sound engineering was done by SYNC CINEMA. Recently they have done a brilliant job in the sound designing of Arjun Reddy and the same level of output was delivered to Vellipomakey.

MUSIC:

Prashant R Vihari has given a breathtaking music and sound track for the film. This has lifted the film from ordinary to extraordinary. His music played a major role in making the film trailer go viral until it reached the producer Dil Raju. The background score for the climax will stop your breath for a few seconds and haunts even after the film ends.

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DIRECTION:

Ali has perfectly brought in and implemented the knowledge he has gained from film school. The way he has played with the senses of the audience, the minimalistic way of writing a screenplay with minimal characters, choosing the existing real locations, minimal budget plan and clever cinematography shows his knowledge level and dedication for cinema. The choice of music and the way he communicated the emotions through acting than dialogues shows his directional skills.

Before sound started ruling the cinema, images are the medium of the communication. The standard definition of the filmmaking comes from the invention of the camera and not from the sound. So, filmmaking is defined as the cinematic art form used to express the thoughts of a filmmaker through images. Hence Ali expresses his thoughts perfectly on screen and it’s been so long time, watching a director expressing what he wants in a film.
What more reasons do we need to accept this film as a Masterpiece? Ali has set a new challenge for independent filmmakers as well the commercial filmmakers. We need more producers like Dil Raju, who should come forward to bring some of the good films into the limelight.

Watch this film here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hlh-BHgwykQ

BY
Dinesh A

M.F.Tech Cinematography.

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