Ra’s Metanoia, fulfils my 30-year dream - Director Alladi | Sunday Observer

Ra’s Metanoia, fulfils my 30-year dream - Director Alladi

7 February, 2021

We met Ram Alladi, director/screenwriter (New York-based Indian American) to discuss his award winning short film ‘Ra’s Metanoia, that makes you go through many years of Mahatma Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (MKG), the one who led the successful campaign for India’s independence from British rule.

Despite the Covid-19 pandemic that has created an unthinkable situation on the Earth, Ram Alladi’s creation ‘Ra’s Metanoia won several awards and continues to grasp audiences in a powerful way. This interview is to inspire young creators and hopeful people.

Ram Alladi

Q: Before the release of ‘Ra’s Metanoia you spoke about it with much admiration. “The film seamlessly weaves a tapestry of a richly narrated story with Gandhian principles.” That’s how you described ‘Ra’s Metanoia. Now that it has won many awards, do you look at your film differently?

A. Thank you. Like every director’s dream, “Metanoia” is my 30-year dream. Every minute I spent drafting the film was a great moment for me. That’s all because of MKG. I wouldn’t imagine this story without him. I am happy for the viewer recognition so far. But the way I see this film now is just like when I first got the idea. So having MKG in my idea is a big reward for me. Of course there is a little proud moment as the baby is getting rewarded, the entire team is happy about it.

Q: The film won many awards. Can you tell us about them?

A: The awards:

Best Biographical Film Award Winner Oniros Film Awards® New York, USA.

Best Screenplay Film Award Winner Oniros Film Awards® New York, USA.

Honorable Mention Best Actor Award Winner Oniros Film Awards® New York, USA.

Semi Finalist at JellyFest, California, USA.

Best Short Film Award Winner at Cult Critic Movie Awards Kolkata, India.

Best VFX Artist Award Winner at Cult Critic Movie Awards Kolkata, India.

Best Visual Effects Artist Award Winner at Los Angeles Film Awards LA, USA.

Best Narrative Short Award Winner at Festigious Los Angeles LA, USA.

Best Sound Design Gold Award Winner at Virgin Spring Cinefest Kolkata, India.

Best Music Score Silver Award Winner at Virgin Spring Cinefest Kolkata, India.

Best Editing Silver Award Winner at Virgin Spring Cinefest Kolkata, India.

Best Short Film Silver Award Winner at Virgin Spring Cinefest Kolkata, India.

Official Selection at Rome Independent Prisma Awards Italy.

Official Selection at Amsterdam World International Film Festival Amsterdam.

Semi-Finalist at Venice Shorts CA, USA.

Semi-Finalist at European Cinematography Awards (ECA) Amsterdam.

Semi-Finalist at Gold Movie Awards ® London, UK.

Semi-Finalist at New York Cinematography Awards (NYCA) New York, USA.

Q: Ra’s Metanoia is not a typical short film. Did you learn the craft of making such different movies or are you a born magician?

A. According to Shakespehere, every story is built with some magic, such as showing the problem and solving it. Gandhi ji drafted his life events in the book “The story of My Experiments with Truth” very well. After reading the book, I felt a few moments of his last day were missing in it, obviously. For people like us, those moments are history too. As a writer, if I tried to append those minutes to his biography, I felt like the “end” didn’t match. So, that is the problem, the blood stains on his shawl. And that’s when I applied so-called ‘magic’ to the plot.

So, knowing the fact that his story is known to all over the world, I thought, adding magic to the legend’s life is going to be something very interesting to audiences. So, the answer is I am not the real magician here, but his story made me the magician, and I prefer picking up such stories.

Q: Last year was not an easy year for anyone. Yet ‘Ra’s Metanoia was released on Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday in 2020 and was very successful. Do you think this particular time that makes a lot of people being insightful was favourable in judging ‘Ra’s Metanoia at many film festivals?

A. Last year wasn’t really tough for people who could work from home. For those families I would say it is a lifetime vacation. They spent time with family like cooking, playing and watching movies. I know a few families who just watch only their regional language movies, but now language is not a barrier for them. Obviously the audiences learnt the way of understanding and following different types of screenplays. Coming to the point, festivals work in a different way. They receive a good count of different movies for consideration with a variety of screenplays, and the judges had a really tough time to choose the best regardless commercial or not. So, in other words 2020 was a competitive year for films at the festivals.

Q: The sound is something very important in short films. In ‘Ra Metanoia’ there is a way that you use sound absorbing the viewer in a trance. Was it intentional?

A. Yes. A good story narration should be with all possible elements. Ever since sound was introduced in cinema it has more prominence like anything from a visual frame. Periodic movies like Metanoia need to grab attention of the viewer. I took the advantage of this window to play the scene through the sound effects and background score wherever it is needed. Sounds like ingersoll watch ticking, bangles, shawl and papers on bapu table, talk a lot in this movie. And obviously Bapu’s favourite songs are situational. So the sound played a big role in delivering the plot.

Q: There are some Anti-Gandhi Sentiments in India and around the world. There can be many reasons for such criticisms of Gandhi. However, while some of those criticisms may be genuine, but not all. Is your movie ‘Ra’s Metanoia an effort to “remove the blood stains from Gandhi’s showcased shawl?”

A. Well, Metanoia doesn’t talk about such sentiments. I always wanted to narrate the story with positive influences.

While auditioning for talent, one gentleman (NRI) questioned me “Why his story? Why didn’t you pick any famous antagonists?”.

I replied, “Metanoia is not about ‘him’, but it is about ‘you’ or ‘us’, regardless of time!” like the principles of God more than the God. And that’s what I discussed in the scene where Albert West and Mohan’s conversation about the book “Unto This Last”.

This movie is for not a particular region or religion. It is about humanity, social justice or equality, dignity of labour and leadership abilities. It is for every person who is part of this social world.

That’s why I took care not to show the references of any region, religion, weapon or a drop of a blood. Yes, removing the stains is my main motivation.