“More often than not, aspiring directors focus on dialogue delivery but overlook visual tooth combing,” says Ramana PMV, a Mumbai-based visual art director. Recently, he was in Visakhapatnam as guest of honour at an event by the Vizag Film Society.
A still from Living Idol
The film society screened Ramana’s short film Living Idle that has won over 80 national and international awards since 2017. Some of them include Best Drama at Red Wood Film Festival, US; Best Film, Rajasthan International Film Festival; multiple awards at Queen Palm International Film Festival, US; and Asian Cinematography Awards, Philippines. He plans to apply for Limca Books of Records under the category ‘Most awards by a short film’. (Living Idle can be watched on YouTube.)
Living Idle is about a Mumbai-based sculptor who is addicted to alcohol. His passion for sculpting and his alcoholism pushes him to the verge of madness. One night as he forces himself on his wife an idol of Durga falls on him and he is paralysed. The film explores themes of action and consequences and love and faith in the divine.
Ramana, who is an alumni of Department of Fine Arts, Andhra University, is currently working on Rocketry: The Nambi Effect, a biographical drama based on the life of Nambi Narayanan (played by R Madhavan), a former scientist and aerospace engineer at the Indian Space Research Organisation, who was accused of espionage. This is also Madhavan’s directorial debut. As the visual effects arts director, Ramana has ensured that the rocket launch and other scenes look accurate. This film will release later this year. Ramana describes working with Madhavan as a seamless experience.“He is quick to admit mistakes and welcomes suggestions.”
Ramana talks passionately about the project and often pulls up images on his iPad to demonstrate how his inputs impact the screenplay. In 2001, he started his career as an animator. As he gained experience he got bigger roles in production and built up his expertise in visual development. In 2004, he was scouted by Shekhar Kapur, the director of the cult classic Mr India and several other hits. “Back in the day directors knew artists only through word of mouth. Somehow, he heard of me and out of the blue, I got a call from Shekhar asking me to join his team,” he adds. According to Ramana, working with Shekhar on Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Paani and Buddha pushed him to do more.
Over the years, Ramana has worked as an art director in international animated films like Shrek, Madagascar, Puss In Boots. He says, “Indian production houses are contributing to films like Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and Avengers: End Game. India has matched global production levels. It is just an issue of budget.”
If there is one thing he likes above visual effects, it’s working on personal projects. Currently, he is working a project called Mirage. Without revealing too much about it Ramana describes it as “a feature film inspired by Gandhian principles”.