The story dates back to 1992. A young schoolboy was overwhelmed by Malayali cinematographer Santosh Sivan’s technical brilliance on the visuals for Roja. That instilled in him a passion — cinema. He grew up to pursue different dreams, but finally he has been able to write, direct and even act in films. Destiny presented him with a dream debut in Cannes! Guess who the actor/filmmaker is? A sobriquet will do — Collector Bro. Fondly nicknamed so since his stint as the Kozhikode district collector, it’s double delight for N. Prasanth IAS, whose directorial debut Daivakanam and acting debut Who, are premiered at Cannes Film Festival. A proud moment, indeed.
Speaking about Daivakanam, he says, “We have got entry to the competition section. Only eight out of thousands of movies may see the final. It’s a morale booster since we are getting an opportunity for world premiere.” There’s much to cheer beyond what both his films have achieved.
“Getting there is so difficult. We know how strict restrictions are for a film festival in Kerala. Imagine then how it will be for Cannes. Barring some big names in Malayalam like Shaji N. Karun, others are actually not much known at Cannes. About 90 per cent applicants face rejection for accreditation. We were really proud to get an invite,” he shares.
Prasanth only needed a spark to make his long-cherished dream come true. He never missed any opportunity to discuss movies with his friends in cinema. That was when director Anjali Menon suggested he make one. “I was planning a full-length feature film. She suggested I make a short film to gain confidence. I shot it like a diploma film of a film institute student which was not actually meant to be shown to the world. Everything else comes as bonus,” he beams.
As soon as the production of Daivakanam got over, he received a call to act, in Ajay Devaloka’s Who. Coincidentally, both films had mystical elements in common. Who is a murder mystery, whereas Daivakanam runs through the complexities of a multi-layered plot, what the director calls a ‘purposefully complicated cryptic script’.
“According to lore, an astrologer predicts the future and tries to freeze time. Weaving the musical and the mystical, the film depicts man’s struggle to cope with knowledge of the future,” he sums up. The 18-minute film was reduced to 15 minutes for Cannes.
Even while discharging his duties as the private secretary to the MoS for Tourism Alphons Kannanthanam, Prasanth is bombarded with opportunities to keep his creative side aflame. “Mostly I get to interact with prominent people and international delegation. In the midst, we get involved in discussing ad-films where I can discuss ideas and work to my creative satisfaction,” he concludes....