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Cinema goes haiku

Cineku is catching attention, writes S. AISHWARYA

PHOTO: R. ASHOK

ELOQUENT Moving in the right direction

Scene one: A fragile old man handicapped by paralytic attack decides to commit suicide. Two: He fastens the rope to a hook and climbs on to a chair. Three: The rope snaps and he falls down forcefully with a thud, only to find the fall has made him normal.

Thus ends the film. A few seconds of silence follow to allow us to grasp the tragic-comedy — depicted in a minute within three shots.

A minute is all that is needed for `cineku' to put across the message. The film, `Suicide,' based on Dorothy Parker's poem `Razor pain you... nooses give... you might as well live,' is a classic example of a genre that is growing in popularity.

Inspirational

The short-film, which drew inspiration from Cinema and Japanese three-lined poems `Haiku,' is a copyright brainchild of Kerala-based cinematographer K. Ramachandra Babu. For those who think three-shot-story-in-a-minute is incredible, Ramachandra has six `cinekus' to testify.

Cineku, his six-month old hobbyhorse, has begun to attract youngsters for its brevity and creativity. His other movies including `Fire,' `Lending Hands,' `Kiss of Lives,' `Doctors' and `Knives,' have a common thread of depicting lives of different generations. `Lending hands,' for example, portrays the mutual dependence across generations: a baby holding its mom's hands, a couple holding each others' hands and an elderly man trying to ascend the steps as his spouse lends a helping hand.

"I take real-life instances to make a strong impact. But it is a challenge to make people comprehend the message within a minute. But that's where the excitement lies," he smiles, exuding enthusiasm.

Crisp

Ramachandra has marshalled his Haiku poems in English and strongly believed that the crispness and photogenic description of the poems would be a potential gist for cineku.

"If you could write a story in three lines, why can't you show it in three shots?" he asks, as he gets into conversation with the members of `Film Paradiso,' a film and documentary club of National Institute of Technology, at the recently held film festival of the college.

But the rules are rigid: three shots, with not more than 40 seconds each, without any optical or computer-generated graphics and all should be wrapped up in a minute.

"The rules aren't so strict. I formulated these only to make creativity come to the fore. Shoot things as they are and edit it short enough narrate a story is what I want people to do," he clarifies.

At the first watch, one is too fascinated by the frames composed and the storyline to notice the absence of any verbal conversation. All his six cinekus are silent movies — the fact that is clouded by the tuneful background score all through his short films.

Silent

"I didn't want to use any language for my films. Silent cinekus will have a universal appeal. Further, you can't convey anything faster than visuals," he says. His half a dozen cinekus were screened at the IV Film Festival in Bolzano, Italy, and Trivandrum International Film Festival this year. Having worked with noted directors including John Abraham, Mani Rathnam, Hariharan and Sasi Kumar, Ramachandra feels his 35 years of experience in cinematography came handy when he made his maiden cineku.

"To make it look more appealing, I worked with professional technicians and artists. But anyone interested can make a simple cineku with a handy-cam," he explains.

This new genre short film carries the brevity of haiku and eloquence of cinema, which he hopes will be hit with Gen X.

Creative contributions

Ramachandra looks forward to creative contributions from younger generation, who "love to shoot pictures but do not follow it up."

"About ninety percent of digital photographs are not viewed second time. Still pictures are uploaded and get buried in a folder forever. Youngsters lack the patience to review their pictures, unlike our generation where we look back at our photographs and try improvising on our future projects," he reminisces.

"The newest form of cinema," as he terms Cineku, will reach more people after Ramchandra signs an MoU with an American software company, which will develop software to shrink the videos' size enough to float them on web and multimedia message services (MMS) in mobile phones.

To cut down the cost in editing the shot frames, Ramachandra will expand the scope of his website - www.cineku.com - by installing an online software for editing and uploading the videos.

"It will be a user friendly process with a touch of minimalism. Cineku makes you the director, cinematographer and editor, all at once. Any budding film-maker can learn the nitty-gritty of film-making with ease."

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