MP Santosh, in his own words, is a movie maker and a full-time audio/video editor (by choice) and a mechanical engineer by qualification (definitely not by choice). His love for comics and movies was evident right from his childhood. He spent his early years writing stories that toggled between groups of teenagers in danger and man-eating plants. Despite films being his primary interest, he claims that the cinematic storytelling bug bit him when the Warner Brothers, DC Comics and Legendary Pictures logo came up on screen with the ominous Hans Zimmer music when he watched “Batman Begins” for the first time. “I had goosebumps,” he recalls. His production house, Maniac Entertainment is debuting with a thriller, Fate Plays, the trailer of which is right below.
Here’s how he muses about his movie, over a cuppa coffee with the coffee bean.
So… fate plays! Why? When? And how?
The film was originally titled “Homework”. I’d retained the title from an earlier idea that again involved a hostage situation. That plot turned out to be pretty weak and I scrapped it. I started from scratch and wrote a new treatment, again a hostage drama, that seemed to hold together well and for lack of a better word then, tentatively retained the old title. The initial drafts of the screenplays that were sent out to the actors too had the same title.
And when did you finally zero in on this title?
Shooting had just begun when my friend and art director for the film, Rashleen Kaur flagged the title and suggested a change. I mulled over it and finally ended up with “Fate Plays”. It seemed to suit the storyline well.
How do you think it suits the storyline? Why don’t you tell us a bit more on that thought process?
The plot unravels in a dystopian Bangalore with an overriding atmosphere of moral decay. A teenager gets kidnapped and the odds are heavily stacked against him. So a twist of fate happens to be the only route towards a resolution, happy or sad.
Aww, I get it now… So fate plays! Literally! 🙂 Would this twist of fate make the movie a mystery? A thriller?
I would broadly classify the movie as a hostage thriller. The poster is a pretty good indicator of the way things are supposed to pan out within the film. It’s the kind of plot where characters are not guaranteed a safe spot even after they’ve made their move for the simple reason that there are a lot of other variables working against their goal.
How much of Chris Nolan influence can we expect to see in this? 🙂
There’s not as much Nolan in here as compared to Matthew Vaugh’s Layer Cake. That was the movie that convinced me that I could make this story believable.While its no secret among people who know me that I’m a Nolan fanboy, the influences however are very broad. The black and white palette and the film noir nod are probably the biggest influences. Minor but personally important ones would include having the music score overlaid over the broadcast and have no starting credits. Nolan also remarked on the Film Noir genre as one where its always interesting to see the characters finding their way in a maze with them rather than watch them make their moves from an objective point of view. That was a very good jumping off point.
Alright! And what/who else pulled you into making this movie?
What’s not so very well known about me is that I study a lot of Michael Mann films. I know some of them like the back of my hand. I try and structure my stories and characters like his films do which basically means that the audience has to play catch up right from the very beginning. There’s no introduction to the world in his films. As an audience you are just dropped there and you’ve to make your way. It means that cops talk like cops, gangsters talk like gangsters apart from of course, a plausible storyline and staying true to that universe. In my opinion, its slightly difficult to grasp but eventually becomes rewarding as layer after layer is peeled off to reveal more depth. Its something that I’ve strived to achieve. There’s also the music influence and that means a lot of ambient tracks in the background. I love the way Mann’s cinematographers and editors work. I’ve found his movies to be some of the best photographed and edited flicks of all time.
All this means that there’s a lot of subconscious influences in my choices that help me assemble the entire film. Can’t really nail it down to one particular director or film, rightfully so. Because then that would be plagiarism/imitation and would in my opinion cease to be original.
Good point there! You mentioned the ambient background tracks in Mann’s movies being an inspiration. Is that how the background score for this movie would be too?
I’m conditioned to a lot of ambient score in movies. While I do have a lot of favourites in the conventional background scores, I realized that I was moved more by the ambient stuff. And even when storyboarding the scenes or while writing them down, its always the ambient music channel on itunes. Probably its because that such scores have already been composed independently and contain the individuality of the artist and has not in any way been tailored for the scene in question. Its almost like a different mind at work there and that was something that I was very clear about. I didn’t want the music to be made as a complementary part of the scene. I wanted it to have an identity in itself. It took me to SoundCloud and after a long search led me to Frank Meyer who in my opinion had just the perfect style that I’d visualized for the film. Being long distance, it was indeed hard to find a common working language but when we finally got it, he just ran away with it and arrived with some amazing explorations in the dark ambient zone that made it really memorable for me as a director to incorporate into the visuals.
The dark ambient music and the hostage thriller plot must have been a good selling point for the movie. How did the movie premiere show go? How was the reception?
The feedback was incredibly positive. It felt satisfying that the first film margin for error reaction wasn’t there and everyone treated it as a serious movie even though it was a short one. However, most of them had trouble getting the plot because of the non-expository nature of the film where details arrive based on certain vital words in dialogues without any prior warning. In a way it meant putting a lot of two and twos together.
Were you made to feel that the next screening would be as successful?
The general consensus was that a second viewing would be rewarding and I would take that as an advantage because the story has done its primary job of engaging you and giving you an inkling of what just happened. And you return to unearth more details which was in a way happening outside the auditorium where attendees were discussing plot lines and character motivations. The worst reaction you could get from an audience is the “meh” indifferent one. Thankfully, this wasn’t one of them.
Awesome! How long do we have to wait before we get to see the movie on the big screen?
Not too long. January 8 is the next screening date and some promotional material in the form of prologue stories is being prepared to enhance the character backgrounds.
And now, where do we go to get updates on the movie?
Thanks Santosh, and wish you all success for the movie!
The movie got had its screening on Jan 8 2012, and its online release on March 9 2012. For those of you who want to take a look at the online version of the movie, here’s the link.