Presenting a ‘colourful’ India
|A still from the film A Billion Colour Story|
“I am an idealist, actually,” states poet, writer, director and photographer N. Padmakumar, when we quiz him about the larger than life ending of his debut feature film A Billion Colour Story. Screened at the Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival with Star recently, the film – as its title suggests – is a wonderful collage of India in its myriad colours. Colour of inclusiveness, colour of differences, colour of deep rooted prejudices, colour of faith, colour of co-existence, colour of power, colour of corruption.... all showcased in black and white.
A Billion Colour Story is watching life as it exists in our country today through the story of a mixed marriage couple – a Muslim father, a Hindu mother and their Hindu-Muslim-Christian son. ‘I am a Hindu and Muslim. And I am a Christian too because we celebrate Christmas’, says the 11-year-old Hari Aziz in the film. It’s through Hari’s perception that the story is told and hence, the black and white print. “I used the colours black and white as metaphors. It’s to show Hari’s uncoloured, unbiased and pure vision of the world,” the filmmaker interprets.
Coming back to the ending of the film, which lends a slight Bollywoodish tone to an otherwise realistic and slice-of-life story, Padmakumar aka Paddy tells us that the ending is drawn from his own life experiences. Whether it was crowdfunding a theatre troupe through blog posts or fulfilling a seemingly impossible last wish of his late mother, Paddy has made it happen by believing in the goodness and sincerity of things. “I am a big believer in the fact that when good intentions go out there, they will always find champions,” he insists. But like the protagonists of his film, he hasn’t gone through the struggle of fighting religious biases. “I don’t belong to any minority. But it’s not just about Hindu-Muslim. Today, everyone is either becoming a minority or an extremist majority. There are so many divisions. You feel guilty...” he says.
A former advertising professional, Paddy left the high paying profile of National Creative Director of Rediffusion Y&R to pursue “a creative journey that would be meaningful in the human context”. The filmmaker aspires to build bridges across differences – small and big – with his stories. His past laurels include a full length documentary on the veteran filmmaker Saeed Mirza, called Saeed Mirza – The Leftist Sufi, which he has co-directed and shot.
Thanks to its producer Satish Kaushik (who also has a cameo role in the film), A Billion Colour Story has already been screened for a selective few biggies from the Hindi film industry, namely Javed Akhtar, Shabana Azmi and Farhan Akhtar. And it has garnered much praise, what with them urging the filmmaker to not keep his film restricted to festivals and give it a mainstream release.
“I had set out to make this film with no expectations of finding producers and funding it myself. During the process, I had approached Satish Kaushik for a cameo part and after reading the script, he decided to produce the film,” he recounts, adding, “And yes, I am quite confident that this film will be accepted by a wider audience.” His confidence banking on the fact that almost 95 percent of the viewers so far have come up to him after the screenings and thanked him for making this film. To add to this, his actors – consisting of a mix of professional actors, first time actors and faces from the ad world – have not charged him a single buck for doing this film.
To be screened next at the New York Indian Film Festival and Palm Springs International Film Festival in California, A Billion Colour Story is a must watch. Not because it conveys a relevant message, but because it shows the way. The way to a peaceful, optimistic and tolerant existence!