Exclusive : A limitless opportunity

Y.Sunita Chowdhary

Director Ramesh Raparthi would have ideally wanted a theatrical release of Thank You Brother but there is little he can do, other than hope it is liked by a large segment of the audience now holed up in their homes. This isn’t his debut film, in 2013, he directed Race. When he was in the tenth standard, Ramesh wanted to be a cinematographer and sought admission to a film school in Chennai. In 2007 and 2008, he made many short films and ad films. In Nigeria, where he moved later, he set up a film school and taught cinematography and editing. When out of Nollywood, the 23 year old was all enthu and technically savvy, he realised there was great potential for the subject and many ambitious students devouring every bit of info on cinema. In a chat with Klapboardpost.com, Ramesh reveals, “Cinema is a huge culture, Nigerians grew up watching Bollywood and Indian cinema. I was the first cinematographer from India and began venturing into television shows. I was young, almost their age and I mingled with them easily. I was more of a hands on person, who taught things by trial and error rather than books. Since 2007 onwards, I have been there on and off. Basically, I was there to set up a film department in the American University of Nigeria. For an African, it is difficult to travel to the USA to study film, so they set up a university and I was there compiling and preparing their syllabus. I made good money and used the stint in university for my resume. I made 150 episodes of a television series and got some awards.”

There are regional cinemas too in Nigeria. It is high on culture, folk and women based stories which are rooted to their country. When English films started streaming, the Bollywood effect jumped in. Thank You Brother is an inspiration from a Nigerian film. Ramesh shares, “We (myself and my colleague) made a quick film in a Covid scenario. I like cultural exchange and wanted to make collaborative films i.e I wanted to make content that is world cinema. The kind of stories I wanted to tell might not fit theatre; but it is where I can tell actual stories and not worry about the hero’s market. I found my slot in Nigeria because the films I wanted to make wouldn’t fit regular theatre. I couldn’t cope after 2013, when I made Race, I couldn’t put my brain into it. There wasn’t freedom of expression. There have been so many complications, songs, fights, hero’s market etc. The kind of stories I want to tell here is actually happening now, it is a limitless opportunity. Thank You Brother is 1.40 minutes of nice content. It has no song to escape. It is a dialogue based film, and is gripping and is set in a ten by ten lift/ elevator. We keep going off and on as there is a propensity to feel the claustrophobia. We went off the lift and came back to it. Nigerian films and its people have a thought process that is smart, it has a limited budget. They will tell content in that budget and execute the project quickly. When I returned, I had a lot of films and wanted to make one in limited locations with limited actors and have content that would engage people and not celebrities. This is my time and I have another platform to showcase my art form. After the 2013 film, I diversified and ventured into a lot of things. It actually helped me.”

The director states that the story is about two different people stuck in an elevator. One, is a rich, reckless young guy who thinks he can buy anything with money. A nine month pregnant woman in a bad phase in life. She has no money and her husband is dead. These two characters, one is struggling and the other doesn’t treat women well. When you put these two characters in an elevator in the Covid time, when the elevator gets stuck, it crashes. What happens in this ten by ten lift is the actual story. Towards the end of the film, there is a change in character for both of them.” The director says, “It is a thriller. I always tell people, the visual medium is very powerful. Whatever people see, gets into their brain and is processing it. This generation is very receptive, but the people are using it in the wrong way. Whatever we show, we need to create an impression in a better way. Everything went as planned. Guna Balasubramaniam gave a beautiful background score. I found him online and want to clarify that I always look for new talent, not because of budgets. When my first film happened I looked for Vivek Sagar and he for an example became famous. Guna gave a beautiful tune and it became the soul of Thank You brother. There is a mom character which is vital and is played by a newcomer Archana Ananth. She is a television actress. I wanted someone new, confident and dynamic looking and Ashwin fit the bill as the lead. Anish played step father to Ashwin Viraj and Monica Reddy is the girl of interest. Suresh Raghutu (DoP) is a most dependable guy, so is art director Purushottam and producer Sharath. My next is a small film like this, neatly packed..”

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