We’ve never reviewed a Kannada film before and this is our first. I am not going to explain and then cringe and cry about the atrocities some of the films from Gandhinagar commit.
But Pawan Kumar’s Lucia really changes a lot of things. For starters, it’s a crowd-invested film and more importantly it’s making people think. Oh did I mention that it has made a lot of money in its release weekend and a lot more from TV rights? This was a film that was made because of the determination of its director and the audience that made it happen. It wouldn’t be what it is without them as most industry people had called it an impossible film.
But how is it as a film? I had my worries and thoughts in place before I entered the movie theatre. I was expecting a lot from it. And it did live up to my expectations. It’s pretty hard to make a non-formula oriented film, especially when you release it in theatres. And even harder, when your audience isn’t used to it. Lucia does a great job of bridging the disconnect.There are song and dance sequences but they are used very effectively as story telling devices and even the proverbial ‘item song’ is in place to draw parallels between reality and the dream. So you get a nice mash-up of mainstream stuff with very distinctly art house elements.
The story is rather straightforward; an insomniac usher (elitist speak for the torch guy at old movie theatres) working at a senile movie theatre starts popping pills called Lucia. He starts living his dreams and soon the difference between the dreams and his reality flicker. The fact that certain reviews called this hard to follow goes on to show that we are okay with cars flying in the air for hours and aliens
in red underpants flying around being a god to all of us, but the moment someone throws in stuff like lucid dreaming, pills that induce lucid dreaming and multiple parallel narratives, we lose our shit on how complicated it is. It’s simple; everybody dreams of living life in a certain way and the movie is about that, except with drugs and mobsters. Yes some bits of it remind you of Cinema Paradiso, and in spirit , you could draw similarities with the Spanish film Abre los ojos (I am not a huge fan of its American remake Vanilla Sky) but then I could go on and draw similarities with the sci-fi thriller book Ubik by Phillip K. Dick. The fact that the movie takes you on that thought process is reason enough to watch it.
Most actors in the film end up portraying dual roles in the film; one in reality and one in the dream. The tone of acting edges on being dramatic and the cast does a pretty good job of switching between roles with so much ease. Yes, there are moments where you tend to break out from the make believe but the movie sucks you back in. Maybe it’s because they don’t have the baggage a star comes with that makes them very believable in both realms.
I am a technical person and I generally do not write about techniques cause the way you use them is more important than using them at all. Sometimes I feel technique is irrelevant. But man, this movie does a good effort of making me think again. The editing is so thoughtful and exhilarating that you are sucked into the flow of events and a large part of this is because of it’s structure- the clear distinctions between the dream and reality in imagery, pacing and mood. The cinematography is at another level- mindblowing. The director and his cinematographer (Siddharth Nuni) actually take advantage of the Canon 5D DSLR that this movie was shot on, something that most people fail to do. Everybody tries to make a film look like as if it’s shot on a traditional movie camera instead of re-purposing the cinematographic style to a DSLR. There are certain things a DSLR can do that a traditional movie camera can’t. And that’s what the film uses to its advantage. Siddharth Nuni is a very talented man, I have seen his work in the still unreleased indie film Joint Trip and he just out did himself with this one.
But in the end, none of that matters. It’s a film that will polarise the audience. It’s a film that will make you ask questions. It’s a film that we really needed. Especially in Kannada.
Lucia has released all over India through PVR Director’s Rare and select Cinepolis multiplex. It’s a Kannada film with English sub titles. It’s going to release online soon.