In the last few years, Crowdfunding has fast emerged as one of the newest and innovative ways to raise money for investing in projects in the creative arts, especially movies.Director Pawan Kumar made a reasonably good debut as a director with the Kannada film Lifeu Ishtene in the year 2011. Interestingly for his second film titled Lucia, Kumar undertakes the route of generating finances through crowdfunding .
Lucia tells the story of Nikki aka Nikhil (Satish Neenasam) a largely aimless guy working as a cinemausher in a decrepit theatre in Bangalore owned by Shankar anna (Achyuth Kumar). Owing to his dreary and his monotonous life, he is also not able to sleep. As a result of this, he starts consuming pills which help him to sleep and dream peacefully. In his illusionary life Nikki is a film star. But soon due to an overdose of these pills, his reality and illusions soon start to intersperse dangerously. In the midst of this are also Swetha (Shruthi Harihran ) who also plays his real life interest and a couple of cops who are hot on the trail of the drug mafia.
Firstly director Pawan Kumar deserves to be applauded for undertaking the means of crowdfunding this film. After a reasonably successful debut as a director with the film Lifeu Ishtene released in 2011, it was indeed gutsy of Kumar to go the crowdfunding way with this film. Anyone else could have been easily tempted to cash in on the success of his previous film and make a regular commercial film with a well known actor. And after watching the film, it is not difficult to understand the reason behind this. Given the unconventional storyline (at least by standards of the Kannada film industry), it was understandable that hardly any leading star of Sandalwood would have agreed to do the film. Because the film’s lead character is mainly a loser of sorts with nothing really worth looking forward to in his life. And it hardly involves any routine fights, dances, songs, punch dialogues etc. Reasonably enough most of the Kannada film stars would not have liked to take the risk of acting in such a film. Lest they displease their fan base and end up with a flop in their kitty. Moreover, the story of the film is such that it might have been quite difficult to narrate and get actors to agree to act in the film.
At the screening which I was present, Director Pawan Kumar also narrated the journey behind the making of Lucia after the show ended. The journey towards making of the film could itself make for an interesting subject for a film. After not being able to find a producer for the film owing to it’s rather abstract theme, Kumar opted for the crowdfunding route. It all began with Pawan Kumar writing about the difficulties he was facing while making the film in his blog. The blog post became quite popular and garnered a lot of attention amongst the people. After much canvassing and use of social media platforms and cyber space, the team behind the film was finally able to generate funds to the tune of Rs. 51lakhs (out of the total spend of 70 lakhs) which helped them in producing the film. Most of the cast and crew working on the film are new and were selected after various auditions, most of them also worked for free. The film also graciously mentions the name of more than all the people who have dozen people who chipped in money for the film and earned credit in various ways as co-producers, associate producers etc.
Despite the unconventional theme, the film however is engaging and entertaining most of the times. Moreover it has a firm grip on the audience pulse, despite an offbeat storyline. Director Pawan Kumar has taken enough care to make sure that the characters are etched in such a way that will make the audience relate with the characters. Besides this, the director has also taken efforts to see to it that all the subplots in the film such as the love story between Nikki and Shwetha and the police team trying to take on the drug mafia are are properly dealt with. These subplots also seamlessly merge with the main plot of the movie with a good twist in the tale. The love story between Nikki and Shwetha especially has it’s nice moments. The film begins with the police doing a crackdown on the mafia . These sequences of events are dedicted in a gripping fashion and set the tone for the film. Amongst the rest of the cast Achyut Kumar as Shankar anna – the theatre owner, the actors playing the cops and the other members of the supporting cast also do well.
Since the film tells the story of a cinema usher, the homage given to films (esp. Kannada films) is well done and is visible throughout the film. Kannada film goers would be more than happy to spot the references which the film makes towards popular actors such as Shivraj Kumar, Sudeep and other popular Kannada actors.
Despite being shot on a modest budget, the film is technically slick and has some amazing visuals. And quite amazingly, the entire film is shot on Canon 5D. Given the fact that the film is shot in 5D, the film has achieved quite commendable results. Cinematographer Siddhartha Nuni surely deserves accolades for his work. The music by Poornachandra Tejaswi is good especially the background score. However a couple of songs could easily have been edited form the film. The film at times drags and becomes a tad confusing.
Lead actor Satish Neensam has quite a tough role on hand but does a rather effective job. He conveys the dreams, aspirations, pathos, dilemmas and the pathos of the characters rather convincingly. Shruthi Hariharan looks pretty and does a good job . Hope we get to see more of all the actors who have starred in the film.
Ultimately director Pawan Kumar and the rest of the crew must be applauded for believing in the project and ultimately putting in their collective efforts to make Lucia a rather memorable venture. Lucia is an engaging and commendable fare despite it’s rather offbeat subject and some drawbacks. Lucia can surely be considered as a successful case study about the success of crowdfunding with regards to cinema. Kannada cinema which of late needs a major revamp with regards to the quality of films being made can surely benefit from films like Lucia. Do give this film a try.
P.S : For those who do not understand Kannada language, the film is being released through Cinepolis chain of cinemas and PVR Director’s Rare with English subtitles