Veteran Tamil actress Lakshmy Ramakrishnan has moved to direction with "Aarohanam", a low budget film about a free-spirited woman that was loved by critics but is yet to reach the big screen. That it was made in just Rs.33.5 lakh actually worked against the film, she says.
"We completed 'Aarohanam' in Rs.33.5 lakh, which was Rs.2.5 lakh less than the actual budget," Lakshmy told IANS in an exclusive interview.
"For promotions, we spent around Rs.8 lakh; that makes it Rs.44 lakh. I sold the film for Rs.40 lakh and received another few lakhs from the overseas market. On the whole it was no loss," she said, adding that the benefit for her was the buzz it created and the experience she gained.
Initially scheduled to release July 27, "Aarohanam" is yet to see the light of day even though critics loved the film in the preview shows. The film is with J. Satish Kumar of JSK Film Corporation and Lakshmy says he will release it as per his convenience.
"I found that revealing the actual budget spoilt the business prospects of the film...Money making was not the objective, so no regrets.
"But revealing the actual budget is not a good idea for the image of a film and the TV channels, distributors and exhibitors made me realise that," said Lakshmy, a commerce graduate with a postgraduate diploma in fashion designing.
She teamed up with Jayaprakash, Viji Chandrasekhar, Kavithalaya Krishnan, Uma Padmanabhan, Rajee Vijayasarathy and Sampath Raj for her debut film.
It's tough to find buyers for indie films and few are interested in a new concept, she says.
"Love and revenge stories are told and retold a number of times and filmmakers are yet to explore areas that are innovative," said Lakshmy, whose directorial debut is based on a series of events that take place on a single day. The film traces a 17-year-old boy and his sister's search for their missing mother.
"My film is about the free spirited women we see in real life, but rarely on-screen. One of the characters in the film is very close to someone I've encountered in my life."
Do you think audience is not open to indie films?
"I feel the culture is slowly creeping in and we can look forward to fresh and innovative concepts, more so with digital filmmaking catching up. I am working on my next script (tentatively titled 'Kural 786'), which I am all excited about," said the actor-filmmaker.
Undeterred by her experience with "Aarohanam", she says she has already found a producer for her next film.
"Once the satellite business opens up to innovative ventures, producers will come forward and small films will make a mark," said Lakshmy who has acted in 30 films, including "Yuddhan Sei", before wielding megaphone for "Aarohanam". She is currently acting in Tamil TV serial "Aval".
As far as the business aspect of her next project is concerned, she said: "Now that I have a good understanding about the release process, I am trying to work backwards. That does not mean I will compromise on my subject. Just trying to figure out how I could strike a deal wherein the essence of the subject is not lost and at the same time the product is saleable. Once the audience is pulled to the theatres, an original, genuine film will always be appreciated."
"Aarohanam" can be described as a family film as her husband Ramakrishnan took charge of the household, while her three daughters contributed greatly to the film.
"My second daughter handled the production and also assisted me in the direction department. My eldest one is a software professional and the CEO of Monkey Creative Labs, which is one of the producers of 'Aarohanam'. My little one has contributed quite a lot to the script," she said.