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Why ‘Kadaseela Biriyani’ pays a hat tip to both Lijo Jose Pellissery and Thiagarajan Kumararaja

Debutant filmmaker Nishanth Kalidindi discusses the aesthetics of ‘Kadaseela Biriyani’

A murder at the centre accentuates the drama in Nishanth Kalidindi’s Kadaseela Biriyani, releasing in theatres on Friday. It has the masculine energy you would find in Lijo Jose Pellissery’s work; Nishanth, of course, is a fan of the Malayalam filmmaker.

The influence does not end there. Set against a forest backdrop in Kerala, Kadaseela Biriyani is a metaphor for the jungle and the animalistic traits its characters possess, a hat tip to Tamil filmmaker Thiagarajan Kumararaja’s seminal debut, Aaranya Kaandam.

“The post production and editing stage is when we derived some of the stylistic elements from filmmakers like Lijo Jose and Kumararaja’s Aaranya Kaandam. I loved that process,” admits Nishanth, right after a press screening. “Kadaseela Biriyani is an amalgamation of everything I have seen from filmmakers.”

Nishanth and his friends worked to achieve a common purpose: to make a film that has a certain style and treatment. They were bouncing off plot ideas and narrowed on one which eventually became the film. “The writing did not take much time; it was written in a month’s time. But we were concerned more about fitting the style and flavour,” says Nishanth.

The style came from not doing certain things we have come to associate with regular commercial films, he says. “For example, the use of high speed shots in our films. We have used very little artificial light and were clear about how to colour the film.”

Starring actors Vasanth Selvam, Hakkim Shah and Vijay Ram among others, the film has a technical crew in Azeem Mohammed and Hestin Jose Joseph (cinematography), Vinoth Thanigasalam (background score and sound design) and Ignaitious Aswin (editor).

Despite being made on a limited budget, Kadaseela Biriyani boasts a rich visual grammar that you would not normally find in a debutant’s work. That, Nishanth says, comes from his documentary days and being inspired by ‘70 and ‘80s Hollywood films. “I am fascinated by cinema of that era; my all-time favourite is The French Connection. We, in fact, used lenses from the ‘70s… we ensured the camera only observes and doesn’t intrude.”

A student of Rajiv Menon’s Mindscreen Film Institute, Nishanth says he studied cinematography primarily to understand the craft of cinema. He has worked on short films and made documentaries for a special school before making Kadaseela Biriyani. Nishanth had to raise funds from friends and families to make his debut work, now presented by Y NOT Studios. “We are not connected to the film industry. By making Kadaseela Biriyani, I was trying to understand the process of filmmaking and that is what you see on screen.”

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