Decoding a scene: Lenin Bharathi on 'Merku Thodarchi Malai'

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'Merku Thodarchi Malai', directed by debutant Lenin Bharathi, fetched rave reviews and was even lauded by Kaala director Pa Ranjith.

Produced by Vijay Sethupathi, 'Merku Thodarchi Malai' is an emotional drama about labourers.

As part of Onmanorama's exclusive 'Decoding a Scene' series, Lenin Bharathi opens up about how he managed to shoot the most robust scene in the movie through a non-decorative style of storytelling.

Capturing the seasonal changes

"The movie has terrain as a protagonist. Hence, we had to use lots of wide frames," he said.

Breaking the conventional idea of using close ups was a challenge for the team, but the depth of the subject and performance of the actors helped them to use wide shots.

Decoding a scene: Lenin Bharathi on 'Merku Thodarchi Malai'

"I spent three years in pre-production research on the Western Ghats. It came in handy during shooting. Five important shots were taken using the drone. Studying the pattern of wind flow helped us to identify the ideal time to shoot these scenes. Likewise, the research helped us capture the seasonal changes on the Ghats perfectly," he said.

The journey to mountains

"I trekked to the hills multiple times along with the directors of photography and art to fix our locations, shots and set. There were no roads. The entire team had to trek carrying all the equipment. It is a reserve forest and we had permission only to shoot from morning to evening. We used to start the climb early and had to start the return journey by 4 pm. This gave us just 3-4 hours to shoot."

During the period he spent on research, Lenin developed a rapport with the villagers.

"We had only three professional artists, all others characters were villagers. At the time of shoot, I would call someone randomly from the crowd and ask them to do some part and they would do it without any hesitation," he recollected.

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