I tend towards existential nihilism'

Following a dream

I tend towards existential nihilism'

A little away from the ‘muttha’ and ‘gurukul’, a group of young boys, wrapped in white ‘panches’ and sporting neat ‘juttus’, ran barefoot, playing cricket. In the heat of the moment, a stream of profane language escaped their lips and it quickly mixed with the Sanskrit chants and bell chimes that hung in the background.

The ease with which these two opposites merged surprised Kannada film director Suneel Raghavendra and caught him off guard.

“It was fantastic! I visited the ‘muttha’, which also had a ‘gurukul’, for a friend’s wedding when we saw these kids. They were dressed in traditional garb, but were using words that aren’t meant for children. It was a complete environment, and it felt like the kids belonged there. But I wondered what would happen if they were placed in a different environment,” he explains. This is when the seed for his movie ‘Puta Tirugisi Nodi’ was planted. “The idea was to take a character and put them in a place they are uncomfortable with.”

He then watered this seed with existential nihilism, with questions like ‘What is the meaning of life’ and ‘What are we aiming for’, and watched as the character of Mohan grew. “Mohan is a promising cricketer who looks like he might break into the national team, but an injury puts an end to his career. Instead of treating it like a tragedy, the film starts with Mohan saying ‘So what? A person can have many dreams. If one dream goes away, there are others we can follow’.” It paints a picture of Mohan as a man with many dreams and loves.

Looking at the world from a strictly materialistic point of view and the various societal binds, Suneel examines how far a person is willing to go to fulfill a dream.

“I tend towards existential nihilism, and in that sense nothing matters anyway. But from a realistic point of view of an individual’s life, I wanted to see what ‘success’ means to a person. When I was studying engineering, I went through a hard time because I was barely interested in the subject and pressure from family and society added to it. And I knew many people who committed suicide. This is something that upsets me because we don’t take mental health seriously in this country, when compared to being successful.” These were just a few of the things that were running through his head at the time.
 Taking the example of tennis star Roger Federer, Suneel wonders how success is measured.

“I wonder what people like him think — they reach their ‘peak’ when they are just 28 or 29 years old. At that age, I barely had a clue about how to approach the film. This made me think, what does ‘being settled’ mean?”

The other themes the pluralist touches upon include orthodoxy of a community and caste.

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