In early 2015, Poorvaa Productions came to Wishberry to crowdfund for a project like never before - a documentary about a mystic saint from India called Arunagiri Perumale. The project is unique not only because it takes the viewers through forgotten poems of the saint from over 600 year ago, but also brings artists from the East and West together to create a magical experience. Six months later, they’ve been quite the busy bunch, making all the right noises. Pradeep Kumar, extremely talented musician, CEO of Poorvaa Productions and the brain behind this project gives us an update on what’s been keeping them on their toes. Click HERE to view their campaign page.
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Pradeep Kumar, Director and Producer of Arunagiri Perumale- the documentary[/caption]
What have you been up to since the crowdfunding success? Pradeep: We were shooting for the documentary during the crowdfunding campaign itself. Once the campaign and the shoot ended, I got busy with editing, mixing and making sure the music was in place. Right now I am working on the post production bit for the movie, and I am also in touch with the crew that’s in Boston with regards to the music.
When will the documentary be ready? Pradeep: The documentary is almost ready. Now just the final cut remains. Susha, our artist, is working on all the illustrations for the animated parts of the film. So, we’re also in the process of finalising all these illustrations. If all goes as planned, the documentary should be ready to be rolled out by 1st August.
How did you get the team together for this project? Pradeep: I was a part of the North Eastern University Fusion Arts Exchange in 2008 in Boston- the program brought together around 40 students from across 6 countries. It was here that I met Elias. In 2014, when I discussed the idea of Poorvaa with Elias, he brought in his friends Anthony Shrout (cinematographer) and Ian Headley Battlefield (Recording Engineer) into the team. One of the assistant cinematographers is Vidhya, who’s also my sister. Finally, Sriram Raja (Editor) came into Poorvaa through Sean Roldan. Also, Sean, Susha, my wife Kalyani and I have been working on this since 2012.
What drew you towards a subject so unique? Pradeep: I have been involved in two independent bands- La Pongal and Yodhakaa. Both these bands dipped heavily into Tamil folk songs and Sanskrit verses. These got me interested in Arunagiri Perumale and his works. For me, the involvement was so deep, it felt like I was transported back in time and was working with the saint himself! As time went by, I realized I wanted this documentary to be the crown jewel of all the work I have done so far. The way I see it, it’s not just about storytelling, it’s about creating an experience people all over the world can enjoy and remember. And that is something the subject of the documentary promises to achieve.
How difficult was it to source all the information you needed, considering all of Arunagiri’s works were lost 600 years ago? Pradeep: That’s hard to say! Some aspects were very simple, some challenging. In January 2013, I walked all the way from Chennai to Thiruvannamalai (a little town in Tamil Nadu). Along this journey I met some really random people who actually knew a lot about Arunagiri Perumale. They told me a lot of what I needed to know. I also got great help from my music teacher. I went about seeking knowledge about this subject more from a perspective of creating a memorable experience than from a research perspective. I think one learns so much when you seek experiences instead of just information.
What challenges did you face while making this documentary? Pradeep: It is extremely difficult to interpret music that is 600 years old, most of which is lost. Setting the shoot schedule was yet another daunting task. Also, since we had to shoot in different temples in Thiruvannamalai, there were a lot of legalities and government officials to deal with. This is also my first time as a filmmaker. I have no formal training, no idea how these things work or anything of that sort. But, thankfully, we overcame all of these challenges by taking baby steps in the right direction and tackling problems one by one. I believe in giving my best shot to only what is here with me in the present. So, that helped too.
What are your plans for the movie’s distribution and marketing? Pradeep: I plan to take this film to major film festivals across the world. That will give the documentary a great jumpstart. Plus, I am also in talks with industry folks and indie filmmakers for private screenings, before finally bringing the movie back to the people of Tamil Nadu. Distribution is never an easy path to walk for an indie filmmaker. So, I do plan to focus on my professional network in Tollywood.
What’s next on your plate? Pradeep: After realizing some of my new skills acquired as a filmmaker and a performer over the course of making this documentary, I have formed a new band called Oorka. We recorded our first album earlier this week! FYI: Pradeep has also been nominated for Best Playback Singer (Male) in the 62nd Filmfare Britannia Awards (South)! Curious to know how you can raise funds for your next film like how Pradeep did? Just submit your details below and we will teach you how you can crowdfund successfully!
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