“Avasavyuham was first envisioned as a superhero film” – The New Indian Express
Express press service
The “winner” tag attached to a film often evokes an extremely slow effort, comparable to watching the paint dry by the skeptical viewer. But such generalizations don’t necessarily apply to an “award-winning” film that entertains large audiences, as evidenced by said film’s turnout at the recent IFFK. Filmmaker Krishand RK’s Avasavyuham, which won the Kerala State Award for Best Film, is a supreme example of this.
The rather lengthy English title of the film – The Arbit Documentation of an Amphibian Hunt – may sound pretentious to the average movie buff. But the significance will be obvious to anyone who has seen the film. One could even conclude that the creators could not have found an apter title.
There’s a pretty good reason Avasavyuham has been met with a lot of applause and standing ovations at IFFK venues. What begins with the tone of an avant-garde experimental feature slowly reveals itself to be a darkly humorous satire that maintains a consistent mood once launched. One will be delighted to find in the film tropes of commercial cinema incorporated in a way one would not expect.
Without giving anything away, Avasavyuham paints an amusing and kaleidoscopic portrait of society while following the events triggered by the appearance of a man (Rahul Rajagopal) with “special powers” and no identity except his name, Joy . Through a strongly satirical and factitious approach, he explores various human follies. Except for a few characters, Avasavyuham is full of opportunists and manipulators. In a chat with Cinema Express, cinematographer Vishnu Prabhakar reveals that the team intended to tell a story that was accessible to the general public.
“We designed Avasavyuham like an entertainer, with all the ingredients that make up a mainstream entertainer. I mean, it’s basically a revenge story with a bit of romance and all. We designed it for the Tik Tok generation, people with low attention spans,” says Vishnu, who had worked with Krishand as associate cinematographer on Krishand’s previous independent feature, Vrithakrithiyulla Chathuram, which , he notes, is relatively not as accessible as Avasavyuham. “In the latter, the information is fed quickly without losing subtlety. We went for the faux-documentary style combined with a contemporary background score to give a sense of familiarity. I watched the young crowd at IFFK respond to it like a mass entertainer. It was however different in the Tagore Theater of Thiruvananthapuram. There, the audience watched him intently.
The film’s visual style combines several approaches, primarily a fluid cinema-vera approach to following the characters, outside of a conventional way of framing. He walks a thin line between documentary and fiction. “We did research before shooting to understand how to process the film. We wanted viewers to wonder if it’s fantasy or reality,” explains Vishnu, a graduate engineer before becoming a self-taught cinematographer.
Interestingly, Krishand originally envisioned Avasavyuham as a superhero movie about a human-creature hybrid. Vishnu shares that the film was something that had its genesis as a Facebook note about human-animal parallels, which often feature in Avasavyuham as a scientist’s observations. However, budget constraints got in the way and manufacturers had to come to terms with something more streamlined, the preparations for which took more than a year.
For Vishnu, working on the film was like being part of a fascinating science project. “During this time, we managed to identify all kinds of species,” he laughs while adding that Avasavyuham will most likely be released on an OTT platform after a month.