‘Survival Stories’, conceived and created by Malayalam director Rahul Riji Nair, is an anthology of eight short films.
The shorts fall in different genres and are played by an actor or two within a confined space.
Nair, who received the Kerala State Award for his debut film ‘Ottamuri Velicham’, last made the comedy ‘Dakini.’ His initial plan was to team up with other directors to make the anthology.
“I felt other directors will bring in their ideas, but due to lockdown it did not materialise. So I spoke to actors who were willing to experiment by themselves,” he told Gulf News.
Briefing them on the story and the kind of shots to be captured on their mobile cameras, Nair went ahead. Depending on the availability of people at home, the stories were developed. Family members were roped in to double up as cinematographers.
“The story ‘Uplifting’ about two colleagues inside a lift that stops midway was shot by the lead actor’s 60-year-old mother-in-law,” reveals Nair. “For one who had not even clicked a selfie at home, she put us all thirty year olds to shame.”
Nair directed two films himself, ‘Hook or Crook’, featuring Vinitha Koshy of ‘Ottamuri Velicham’; and ‘In Love We Trust’, where he plays the lead.
For five shorts, he worked remotely, guiding actors over phone and Skype. The short — ‘Toys from Heaven’ — was directed by filmmaker Jeo Baby.
The eight shorts are about individuals trapped in a situation and the helplessness they go through. Not all situations are physical spaces though. In the story ‘Leak on the Wall’ a young man grapples with vision loss while the chapter, ‘For Each Other’ is about an individual’s pain and guilt following his father’s demise during lockdown. The short, ‘Titti the Dog’, pans over a canine’s plight when locked indoors.
“Many told me that they couldn’t watch through the dog story,” shared Nair. “Cameraman Jayakrishnan Vijayan wanted a story pegged around a dog. He brought in his neighbour’s pet. Some stories were adapted to suit the actors.”
“It is an independent collaboration with actors who expected no remuneration,” said Nair. “During this period of uncertainty, I wanted to show stories of hope and survival.”.
‘Survival Stories’ is produced under Nair’s home banner, First Print Studios Production. Siddhartha Pradeep has composed music.
Nair has completed his third feature film, ‘Kallanottam’ that was selected for a couple of film festivals abroad when the lockdown happened.
On the anvil is an animation film and a virtual reality film in Malayalam.
“Both will be of seven to eight minutes duration. Virtual reality cinema has not been done in Malayalam. As a film maker I don’t want to be in my comfort zone,” said Nair, keen on exploring various genres.
‘Survival Stories’ is streaming on YouTube.