A perplexing scenario haunts Neela as she wades through a rough patch of her life. For the love and affection that she has towards her husband, a seemingly frivolous Neela is worried about her husband finding out her secret deeds. Fraught with uncertainty and a quest for her identity, she faces endless demands from her blackmailer, which keeps the story going.
This is a premise of Kiranmayee Indraganti’s Telugu movie titled Hidden Waters (Rallalo Neeru). Like the meaning hidden in the title, Kiranmayee has come a long way wading through challenges when she first began her career as a documentary filmmaker in 1997. Her recent work Hidden Waters has been selected for The Awareness Film Festival, Los Angeles, this year.
Inspired by a play
“The story is inspired from a European play, A Doll’s House, written by Henrik Ibsen. It was one of the influential plays back then when the society imposed umpteen restrictions on women and stereotyped the gender, stripped off their freedom to take independent decisions. With changing times, the perception has been changed. So, I’ve made changes in Hidden Waters without losing the objective of the original story. It was my dream to make a movie when I first read A Doll’s House during my post-graduation some 20 years ago,” she shares.
Starring newbie Krishna Manjusha in the principal character, the movie also features senior actor Shafi in a role with negative shades. “It has five lead characters played by Bindu Chandramouli, Altaf Hassan and Dr Prasad, who is a stage actor based in Kakinada. Actor Shafi plays the role of the blackmailer. The character shouldn’t be entirely dark. It has imitations as it has to show variations of a blackmailer with subtle expressions. And, Manjusha does well despite having no proper exposure to acting. I was successful in obtaining good output from the entire cast,” adds Kiranmayee who is a sibling of Telugu filmmaker Mohana Krishna Indraganti.
The music was composed by Vivek Sagar and the efforts of senior film editor Marthand K Venkatesh are immeasurable. With a two-thematic soundtrack, the movie has one song, she adds.
Intrinsic universal story
With a runtime of one hour 45 minutes, Hidden Waters is set in the backdrop of semi-urban milieu of coastal Andhra. The entire shoot was held in Kakinada for 28 days in 2019. “It’s not related to a particular region or people. It appeals to diversified socio-culture conditions and regions, intrinsically universal. This was the impact and importance that the original play has,” says Kiranmayee who also teaches filmmaking in Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology in Bengaluru.
Kiranmayee had studied Master of Fine Arts in Canada and later did her PhD in Film Studies in England. Of several 12 documentaries she worked on A Season of Love, a documentary on migratory birds, their routes, links with local communities, became quite popular. Our Health In Our Hands and another documentary titled Ismail, on a popular Telugu poet, have earned awards in various film festivals.
Not a cakewalk
Having worked as a freelancer, as a sub-editor in English daily, later in academic profession, it wasn’t a cake walk making a feature length film for Kiranmayee. “It wasn’t easy though. Having a thorough knowledge in the medium, putting theory into practical implementation – everything matters and it takes time for all of them to come together in filmmaking. Being a woman director has so many challenges in the film industry; people may not listen to you. They may not like to take orders from you. One should have a thorough grip over every aspect like positioning a camera for a shot to visualising the final output, only then one could excel,” she concludes.
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