A film set in Bengaluru’s 80s is making a splash across the prestigious Sundance Film Festival in the US and with good reason. Touted as a coming-of-age sex comedy, Brahman Naman attempts to explore the genre with honesty and stick to humour without double entendres. As he takes the cast and crew back (which by the way, includes Sid Mallya) to his alma mater, St. Joseph’s College of Commerce in Bengaluru, we get speaking to the film’s writer, Naman Ramachandran.
“Bengaluru has been a huge inspiration – not the crowded mess that is the city today, but the gentler, calmer Bangalore of the 1980s,” says 44-year-old Naman Ramachandran. Directed by Qaushik Mukherjee aka Q, the film which was shot at St Joseph’s College and at the Purple Haze pub is a comedy with a difference. It revolves around a group of friends who are headed to the National Quiz Championships. That’s okay, but here’s the twist: They aren’t just looking to win the competition, but to lose their virginities too!
A keen quizzer since his younger days, the subject was a natural step forward for Naman. “My earliest memories of quizzing were watching the late Wing Commander Mulky, the founder of the Karnataka Quiz Association conducting a quiz on stage and vowing that my team would be on that stage one day,” he says. Now the cast that includes Shashank Arora, Tanmay Dhanania, Sid Mallya, Chaitanya Varad, Vaishwath Shankar, Sindhu Murthy, Denzil Smith, Anula Navlekar and Anisa Ani sure is!
Even if Naman’s earliest memories of film was watching Satyajit Ray’s Distant Thunder at what he calls a “sleazy porn cinema” in Alleppey, his career inclinations were always towards film. “That’s why I ended up as a film journalist and author of books on films such as Rajinikanth: The Definitive Biography and Lights, Camera, Masala: Making Movies in Mumbai,” says the critic, who believes filmmaking to be his alternate profession. Now as he basks in the limelight at Sundance, Naman hopes that his film will move cinema in India forward to an era of honest discussions. Showing that adult comedies don’t necessarily have to be crassy, he says, “Just stick to the humour straight up and avoid double entendres – even the boldest comedies will end up looking classy!”
More than just bell-bottoms and larger-than-your-face glasses, recreating the 80s of Bengaluru couldn’t have been easy. “We chose the 80s because it was a gentler and more innocent era and we wanted to recreate the slower cadences of that time. The main challenges were finding locations. So in the end, some older parts of Mysuru doubled up for the Bengaluru of the 80s,” he says. The biggest challenge however wasn’t the era as much as keeping the debut of Sid Mallya hush-hush. “He loved the script and signed up for it but we wanted to release this information later as a surprise,” admits Naman. “Sundance saw the film at an early stage and immediately wanted to hold our World Premiere and we were racing against time to finish the film on time. Several festivals across the world have shown keen interest in the film. We have plans to release it in India as well, but it is too early to talk about them,” says Naman, even as Netflix tries to bag the film for, if rumours are to be believed, a seven figure sum.