Arts Collaboration

Grant Period: Over six months

Soudhamini has a diploma in film, with a specialisation in direction from FTII, Pune. She has worked on a number of films. Gulmohar Kaal, Banni Bai and Harikatha, and Thalarndhadhu are a few of them. She has also been a member of the International Jury of the Leningrad Documentary Festival. And she is visiting faculty at FTII Pune, NID Ahmedabad, and Asian College of Journalism, Chennai.

Filmmaker Soudhamini collaborated with the members of Adishakti Laboratory for Theatre Art Research (ALTAR) towards translating an existing theatre production into film. The theatre piece, Adishakti's Brhannala, resulted from a grant that IFA made under the arts collaboration programme in 1997.

Working with Soudhamini, Veenapani—the director of ALTAR—thought, would give Adishakti members an opportunity to engage with the needs of performing for a cinematic frame. Indeed, Veenapani believed that this could open up exciting new possibilities for Adishakti. For instance, it required the lead actor Vinay Kumar to radically re-think his performance. And it had significant implications for the Brhannala text, in its cinematic avatar. Soudhamini in turn acknowledged the ‘completeness’ of Brhannala’s theatricality, and suggested that it would be a significant challenge to adapt this existing performance to film.

Adishakti and Soudhamini both recognised that the existing performance text of Brhannala was taut and arresting. They nevertheless explored the possibility of introducing new characters “without diluting the power of the original”.

Since February 2004, through watching the performance of Brhannala, studying the script, and through discussions and interactions, Soudhamini was enabled to evolve a first draft of the film script. She then finalised the script and met with the Adishakti actors for an intensive workshop in May 2005.

This grant enabled the team to complete the first stage of their project. They developed a detailed screenplay, finalised locations, outlined the film production schedule and arrived at a production and post-production budget. The team also made some initial forays to raise funds for the eventual film.

Collaborator: Adishakti, a theatre company established by director Veenapani Chawla in 1983, has been engaged in research and reanimation of traditional knowledge in theatre, dance, music, movement and craft forms with a view to creating a contemporary hybrid aesthetic and performance language.