Dreams and desires; you won’t look at yours in the same way again
The first two few minutes of Lucia consist of fast discussion, quick cameras and police. It feels like ‘another’ gangster film, only a bit more MTV.
Fast-forward five minutes and everything changes. All of a sudden you’re engrossed in the world of a character who suffers from severe insomnia and you realise this isn’t some crazy cop action movie; it’s a story about a very ordinary man, who lives an ordinary life, yet has extraordinary experiences.
Directed by Pawan Kumar, Lucia is a crowd-funded movie in Kannada (I watched it with English subtitles). The opening credits show the names of 650 producers, who had all donated money to make the project happen and I’m pleased to report, not a penny of it was wasted.
With the key ingredients that make a good masala movie, Pawan has left no stone unturned in a bid to take the audience on an emotional rollercoaster. There is love, laughter, action, drama, surrealism and tears. Every character we meet is well-formed, likeable and brilliantly acted. The lead star who has a striking resemblance to Bollywood actor Sohail Khan has just enough charisma to keep you engaged every time he’s on screen, but it’s his softer side that makes him most appealing; you certainly won’t look at children’s character Tigger in the same way after watching the movie.
There are meetings with marriage brokers, glamorous dos, captivating songs including a very sleek item number, children’s parties, near death experiences and plenty of heartache; but at the core the film is rooted in the importance of friendship and family with absolutely no clichés.
By the intermission I was hooked; there were no hints about what lay in store, and best of all, none of the momentum was lost. The second half was as engrossing, intriguing and captivating as the first.
The protagonist is a cinema usher, a job I’ve held myself. It’s a role that is monotonous and mind-numbing and one that you never get any recognition for (when did you last look up and smile or chat to the person who shows you to your seat?) A secondary part of the storyline is about the running of the independent cinema he works at and there was a definite message to the audience to say ‘go out there and respect the indies, don’t just give money to the multiplexes’.
It’s been a very long time since I’ve watched such as ‘complete’ film. I didn’t leave the cinema confused, or with questions; Pawan gave us a story that came full circle; an entire journey of how one man who started off not being able to sleep finally finds his remedy. It’s a tale told with passion and love by a person who really understands the possibilities of film and proves you don’t need backing from the major studios to create a masterpiece.
Lucia is a real ‘milestone’ in South Indian cinema, and a film everyone should watch.
The World Premiere of Lucia took place at this year’s London Indian Film Festival.