Remya Raj's dream run to IFFI

Remya's short film 'Midnight Run' will be screened on Friday morning at Panaji in Goa

It was just another evening for filmmaker Remya Raj as she casually queried to her husband whether the final list of movies for the 49th International Film Festival of India (IFFK) was out. “Anyway, we won't be making it, but still let's have a look”, recalled Remya who, minutes later attended a phone call which took her on cloud nine.

Her short film 'Midnight Run' was selected as one of the Indian Panorama films at IFFK 2018. Remya's directorial venture will be screened on Friday 9.45 am at Inox 2 screen at Panaji in Goa. The short film, which has actor-director Dileesh Pothan and child artist Chethan Jayalal, revolves around a young boy who happens to travel on a truck. From Panaji, an excited Remya talked to Onmanorama about her the project.

“I thought of making B T Anil's story into a short film and thus wrote the script.” Anil is the screenwriter of upcoming Prithviraj movie 'Kaaliyan'.

“The screenplay demanded one teenage boy and the first person who came to my mind was Chethan. The other character demanded someone who could drive the truck and at the same time act effortlessly. Only an experienced actor could take up the role as the character had grey shades too. We finally zeroed in on Pothan,” said Remya.


Array of great talents

While two-time National Award winning director Pothan and state award-winner Chethan of Guppy-fame were set, behind the scenes were state award winners, including cinematographer Gireesh Gangadharan, sound designer Renganaath Ravee, and editor Kiran Das.


“Fear was the subject with night and a remote area as background. The biggest challenge was delivering the right message within the short time period. While music is used minimally, communication through sound plays a major role,” she said.

The film was shot in Kochi only during nights. It took three nights of shooting from 6 in the evening to 6 in the early morning. “It was just a day before the shoot that Pothan drove a truck. Although he knew driving, it is not easy to drive such a heavy vehicle. He had to concentrate on driving as well as on acting. Only an actor like him could pull it off,” she said.


Remya, meanwhile, credits her team for the support. Being the only female in the crew, Remya never had any qualms. “The whole crew was behind the project and made sure everything went smoothly,” she said.


Chance to rub shoulders with the maestros

When Remya expressed her desire to be a filmmaker, her parents were worried for her career security and personal safety. But she went ahead to pursue visual communication where master director K G George and ace scriptwriter John Paul were her tutors. Later, she assisted and worked as an associate to renowned director Siby Malayil.


“I have seen and worked with someone like Siby sir with whom I have a fatherly relation. When you are on his sets, you need not worry for he takes care of things,” she said.

Remya believes the recent #MeToo movement is a great platform. “I feel lucky that I was blessed with good team and never experienced such a thing in the film industry. But at the same time, it doesn't mean that such things do not exist. With such a movement happening, an awareness is being created and attitudes are changing,” she said.


However, Remya also stated that saying 'no' is need of the hour. “I feel women should be educated in such a way that they should be able to say no wherever it is needed. One needs to realise that women have ample opportunities and they can survive wherever they go. I have many male friends who advocate feminism. In fact, my husband is one of the biggest feminists I have seen in my life. Respect is what a woman needs.”

'Midnight Run' is a short film that has been shown in more than 10 International film festivals. At the Indie Best Film Festival in California, it won the award for the Best Indie short film. The short film was also screened as part of the 11th edition of International Documentary and Short Film Festival of Kerala. Remya's guru Siby Malayil, director Kamal and cinematographer Sunny Joseph were also present during the screening.


“Usually people clap once the screening is over, but when 'Midnight Run' was screened the crowd clapped and appreciated in between. As a filmmaker, what more you need,” was Siby Malayil's reply to her ward after the screening.

Remya said that a feature film is in the pipeline and it will happen in 2019. She also added that once the festival run was over, she had plans to release the short film on YouTube.