Born to scientist parents Suneel Raghavendra is a Bangalore kid inside out. His parents, a Geologist and a Metallurgist were unfortunately deluded into thinking that Suneel would one day take over their business. However this was not to come. Exposed to the arts at an early age, in the form of Classical music, dance, a little bit of literature and a good bit of cinema and theatre by his own parents, Suneel wondered how they presumed he would ever want to run a business.
In fact, his first on-stage performance at the age 4, a monologue as Hanuman was written and directed by his parents and staged by Suneel at his school (Poorna Prajna Education Centre). At the age of 10 Suneel’s father gifted him a small camera that got him onto photography too. Interestingly, for the past 20 years Suneel’s parents have also been running an Organisation called Ananya that supports the Arts, primarily Carnatic Classical Music.
However, like most Bangalore kids Suneel pursued a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering at The BMSCE, Bangalore. He somehow got through it, even more obstinate than ever that he would make films for a livelihood.
Post Engineering Suneel joined the Prague Film School which he claims to be a great experience, and in terms of lived exposure worth far more than the Diploma suggests. He worked in a lot of short films during the course, and collaborated with people from different aesthetic sensibilities, and in various capacities.
Back in Bangalore, it was a bit of a wait to find good people to learn from and work with. Suneel worked with Prakash Raj in a film called ‘Naanu Nanna Kanasu’ and then later with B Suresha, in a film called ‘Puttakkana Highway’ that won a National award. After these, Suneel started his company Talents’ Day Films and made a few short films, a couple that he completed, others that he didn’t! Finally in 2013 Suneel started ‘puTa tirugisi nODi’ his first feature production as the Director. Here is the poster:
”puTa tirugisi nODi” (Please Turn Over) will feature in this year’s Bangalore International Film Festival BIFFES 8. Here is the Director’s Statement:
My generation of Indians were brought up with quite the rigid notions of success and failure. Coinciding with our formative years was the beginning of the Indian economy opening up to globalization and our hearts, to the possibility of conquering the world. So to speak. As we’ve stumbled and sprinted, we have had to revise the value system that was traditionally cherished before such times. Suddenly, if you weren’t ambitious and if you weren’t succeeding in everything,you had reason to worry. In a matter of years ‘special tuitions’ centres mushroomed by the dozens across cities and towns for classes 1 through 12, each with the promise of making your kid top the class. These were so popular in Urban India, at classes 11 and 12, I didn’t have a single classmate who didn’t attend extra classes outside of school/pre-university courses. It didn’t end there. The competition was a right of passage,and if you didn’t run along in the race you received some serious judgement. To this day, “How much did you score in your last exam” is a legitimate, if horrible, way to greet a young relative.
I must state at this point that is largely an urban phenomenon. Most of India has issues that are a lot more serious. The intention of this film is to narrate a story or conflict without making it seem like that is the biggest problem a person could ever face. This film is a small story that happened in a pocket of Urban India.
So we have bustling cities in a rapidly growing developing country who are always on tenterhooks, anxious to become ‘the best’. It has resulted in large parts of the populace who struggle with the mental duress of expectations and the pursuit of achieving them. It is something I became acutely aware of while doing my under-grad studies in Mechanical Engineering. Every other day there is news of yet another 20 year old who has committed suicide. Because he failed an exam and his parents were embarassed. Or because the Multi-national conglomerate of her choice didn’t hire her in on-Campus recruitments. Because she got fired from her job. Tragically a seventeen year old committed suicide a couple of years ago, on the eve of her Class 12 results because she feared she would perform badly. She died, and her results? Scores above 90%, in 90th percentile. Even more sad, this is hardly an isolated case.
All in all, an immense pressure to succeed seems to be ubiquitous. And succeed in the most materialistic, tangible way possible. More marks, More money, more possessions… More pressure. puta tirugisi nodi (please turn over) came about as an examination of these priorities. It is an attempt to question the result-oriented approach of modern (Urban, Indian) society.
Here is a teaser and it looks like a lot of fun.