INTERVIEW WITH Prabhu Selvaraj - FILMMAKER

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Prabhu Selvaraj grew up watching films as a child, watched thousands of them even before his college. While he played the duties of a son of a smalltime grocer, husband and a father of two wonderful children, he kept his passion for films bloom and glow as bright as the sun itself. By profession, he was into software by 2001 in Mumbai, then moved to Germany for couple of years and eventually to USA. In Germany, by 2007, Prabhu decided to pursue film making full-time and make it his life's true goal. During his 9 years of stay in USA, he worked in plenty of features, music videos, shorts, and stage dramas. The height of his career was, working with Microsoft at a senior position, but for his true love and passion for cinema, he had let go off his job in 2015 and move to India to pursue film making full-time.

Tell us about your background and when did you decide to become a filmmaker?


I grew up watching films. My life took me away from my hometown and family for my higher graduation and work took me further away to other countries. Movies were my only resort. I find the characters true and coming alive anytime I watch such great films. I laugh and cry with them and that’s how I lived almost all my life. After a certain point, I started to understand how the film must have been made, while watching the films. Eventually wanted to tell great stories myself and started to work on that. I worked in IT Industry for over 15 years and for around 12 years I prepared in parallel to become a fulltime filmmaker. And now I’m living my dream as a fulltime film maker.


Films that inspired you to become a filmmaker?


I used to head home for lunch breaks when I was in my 4th STD at school and watch films during those breaks. And those films used to be black and white ones during the 1985’s. Films were part of my life that early ON. All great films were a true Inspiration and they all collectively worked inside out to bring the filmmaker in me. Initially, my interest was mostly in the Indian movies, and once I developed interest for movies in general, the great doors of world cinema opened and since

then, it’s been a wonderful journey watching world cinema and be inspired. Be it the Hitchcock’s Psycho or Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai or Spielberg’s Schindler’s List or Bresson’s Pickpocket or Vittorio De Sica’s Bicycle Thieves and thousand more films, they all continue to inspire to be a filmmaker.


Who is your biggest influence?


Akira Kurosawa, Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick, Robert Bresson, Francois Truffat and Andrei Tarkovsky


What were some of the challenges you had to face in making your films?


Everyone listens to an established filmmaker. When not, starting from light man to a dub artist will have opinion on what good films are like and how a scene must be and how it must be done. To have them all dance to your tunes and really bring your vision out is the greatest challenge. When you are steadfast and stubborn on your vision, they eventually give up and listen to you. Guess that nature is the very reason only a few evolve to be a filmmaker and the rest choose other easier roles. Even masters like Kubrick had to fight these commoners to get to the state of a master.


Do you have a favorite genre to work in? Why is it your favorite?


Suspense and Mystery are my favorite genre. My life has been mostly suspenseful and mysterious at most times. I left my hometown when I was 17 and returned when I turned 35. Almost half my life I lived alone outside and travelled to multiple countries being exposed to various situations and people and race. Films helped me understand and categorize people better. I have a natural pull towards suspense and mystery in both life and in cinema.


What’s your all-time favorite movie and why?


Honestly there must be hundreds of them. If I would name just one film, it would be un-just for the other.

Seven Samurai – It depicts the lifestyle of the ancient Japan, captures the beauty of the landscape, showcases the Integrity and courage of the Samurai, the fear and cunningness of the Villagers, the deep rooted sorrow of the Seventh Samurai, the planning, the execution, the sacrifice, and great film making and storytelling as such.

Childrens of Heaven - This film is a work of God himself. The innocent children, their sacrifice, them lifting their share of family’s burden, the city they live in, the poverty, father being both funny and stubborn and the seamless presence of the storyteller.

Bicycle Thieves – This film captures the poor livelihood of the family and what they must do to survive and get more work and earn money, capturing the lifestyle, time of the story in a beautiful way.

I can write an entire book with my favorite films and still will not be able to stop it.

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If you could work with anyone in the world, who would that person be? 


Akira Kurosawa


Tell us something most people don't know about you.


I’m 40 yrs old and I would have watched around 50000 films so far in my life. It’s almost half my lifetime. I’ve cried more for the great characters in films than for myself in real life.


The one person who has truly believed in you throughout your career.


My Wife.


What was the most important lesson you had to learn as filmmaker?


Never fear to kick a cast or crew out of the project if they will not perform or deliver. There’s no room for any favors in filmmaking. If no hard stance is taken during production, it shows in the film!


Is it harder to get started or to keep going? What was the particular thing that you had to conquer to do either?


It’s hard to get started and even more difficult to keep it going. I kept this idea of becoming a filmmaker on for over 12 years and only my wife knew about this. I worked in multiple projects part time and gained experience. And at one point I let go of my paying job and pursued filmmaking fulltime with my hard-earned money. Neither your family, nor the cast/crew really understands your passion for great story telling. Once you overcome that and go complete your first film and get festival recognitions, everyone now wants to ride along! It’s a crazy world! Conquer these point less people and leave them behind chasing your vision, you are sure to create impact in the world of cinema.


What keeps you motivated?


Good Films.

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How has your style evolved?


My understanding on Life and People evolved over the years. And this defines my style. My stories

are deep rooted in human characters and pose them with tough situations and even tougher choices they must make to survive.


On set, the most important thing is:


I believe in a Hitchcockian way of shooting a film. In my debut film Red-Handed, I wrote about 39 drafts and took over a month to do the script breakdown with complete shot lists. The most important thing on set is to keep your cool in check and help guide the talented cast and crew deliver to what is in plan. Keeping cool and sticking to the plan is the most important thing on set!


The project(s) you’re most proud of:


Red-Handed. I never made a short film before and the very first project I ever wrote, directed and produced is Red-Handed and it’s a hour long movie. It would always be a special film throughout my career.


The most challenging project you worked on. And why?


My next one. It captures the life journey of an orphaned little boy; whose life’s only true ambition is to have a family of his own. And to make that happen, he must travel to multiple countries, be separated from his wife and yet unborn child, and stay separated for over 12 years and find them at last with the immigrant laws of the land posing a threat to separate them yet again. I’m exploring on innovative ways of narrative and it’s really challenging.


What are your short term and long term career goals?


In the long term, I would love to be recognized as a global auteur in cinema. I would love to be able to tell great stories from parts of world, that I may not even know of, but the great lives and great stories from those regions must be told and if I can grow up to that level, it would be just awesome. And to really get there, in the short term, I’m working on scripts that would deal with people of different race and religion and stories travelling across continents for my next projects. This should eventually help me get to the global arena.


Your next projects?


I lived and worked in Germany and USA. I’m working on scripts that deal with genuine migrants and how situations turn them from legal to un-documented and eventually to even illegal immigrants under the views of the governments. But still all the lead characters are ever wanting is just a simple normal life. But they face with hurdles and are painted dark and grey by the government and their policies. But still how these characters survive and what happens would be a great story to watch.


Please share with us where people can find you on social media, so our readers could keep track of your career


http://www.angrypoetfilms.in