It all started on Feb 12, 2012 when Pawan Kumar, a young Kannada movie director whose first directorial venture Lifeu Ishtene was a moderate success, wrote this post in dejection and anger. He had a new script ready but did not have any producers willing to invest on the script he had written. When hundreds of Kannada movie-lovers across the globe came forward to give a part of their savings to help him out in this situation, he decided to make the movie by the people, for the people. He devised a way to tap the crowd-sourcing model to make this movie.
The idea is simple. I am selling 2000 tickets for the film Lucia; I will start making the film after all the tickets are sold. Crazy, right! But it’s true. By selling 2000 tickets I intend to raise 100,000 US dollars (50 lakh Indian rupees approximately) and this is the funding that will go into making this film.
Pawan Kumar on his blog
The ingenious crowd-funded film was made on a budget of 75 lakhs approximately out of which 51 lakhs were raised through crowd-funding through social media in 2012. After 18 months, when Lucia hit the screens in India, it had already won the fancied Audience Award at the 4th London Indian Film Festival (LIFF, July 18-25).
There is a reason why a movie like Lucia won many hearts. The Kannada industry has become stale lately. As it stands today, most Kannada movies rely on the 2 Rs – Rowdyism and Remakes, though there are some exceptions. There is a lack of innovation, in that, someone makes one hit (which itself may not be a quality movie) and the next few movies are more or less similar to the trend setting hit. This rule holds good for music as well.
Lucia is a psychological drama about lucid dreaming. The movie begins with shots of the person who is on a life support and people are debating euthanasia, given that his case has become a rage in the media. Then we go back to sequences where the male protagonist of the movie suffers from insomnia. The craving for sleep forces him to consume a pill called “Lucia” suggested by a road-side quack who promises sleep and colourful dreams. In his dreams the protagonist starts living he always yearned for.
He lives in his dreams and the dreams live in his life. His real life and his dreams run as parallel tracks in his movie. In one of the tracks the protagonist is a simpleton who works at a ramshackle theatre as the guy in the dark with a torch who shows people to their seats. In another track he is a super-star of the Kannada movie industry who is bogged down by the pressures of super stardom. There is another track in the movie that deals with an investigation into attempts to murder, with the crime itself being linked to the other two tracks. Who is attempting to murder the protagonist? Why?
It has all elements of an intelligently made movie. Technically the movie is well made. The editing is slick and keeps the movie crisp and moving. The music ranges between passable and very-good across the movie. The best thing about the star-cast is that there are no stars but there are actors who play their roles naturally. There are some cleverly placed twists to keep us interested. There are English sub-titles played in the theatres to help those who do not know Kannada.
The director has layered the story with subtle commentary on the contemporary Kannada film industry and Kannada language dynamics in Bangalore. But the biggest message of the movie is the movie itself – the way it has now made a point that quality movie making is not about big budgets, superstars, foreign locations or item songs but is about a good story, an intelligent screenplay and good acting. More than any other industry at this point of time this message is relevant to the Kannada film industry whose quality of output in recent times has been mediocre at best.
Lucia is certainly a new benchmark for the Kannada film industry. And I hope it heralds an era where the entry barrier for creative minds to make a Kannada movie is very low.