To Let, an unreleased Tamil film has been quietly doing festival rounds and collecting awards for Chezhiyan Ra, cinematographer-turned-director.
On a winning spree that began at Kolkata International Film festival last year (Best Indian film), To Let crossed seas to receive global awards including World Human Rights Silver Award in Indonesia, Best Dramatic Feature prize at South Film & Arts Academy Festival in Chile and European Cinematography award in Poland this month. The Indian National Award for Best Tamil Film turned the spotlight on Chezhiyan and his directorial debut.
Chezhiyan who has written the story of To Let says that the film is set in urban Chennai and follows a couple with a son, in search for a rental accommodation.
“In 2007, Chennai experienced a real estate boom due the exponential development of the IT sector. The consequence was a spurt in rental rates,” said Chezhiyan.
To Let is about Illango (Santhosh Sreeram), an assistant film director, his wife Amudha (Suseela) and their 5-year old son Siddharth (Dharun). When their landlady issues a 30-day notice to vacate their rented apartment, their life turns into a race against time.
“The landlady is eager on letting out the place to IT professionals for a higher rent,” said Chezhiyan.
“She is a metaphor for the avarice that neo-liberalism has brought in its wake. The sudden and disproportional rise in rents affected those working in the non-IT sector.”
The film’s simple idea has brought in for praise at all festivals.
Chezhiyan, besides producing the film under his home banner La Cinema, has handled the cinematography too.
Credited with nine films as DOP, including the much feted Paradesi, Chezhiyan has also wrote a series of Tamil books on cinema titled Ulaga Cinema.