Interview With Joby Varghese the Director, Producer & Writer of the Film VUJA DE

VUJA DE won Best Short Film - Jury Award in the 10th Season of MP Film Award Joby Varghese Director, Producer & Writer of the Film VUJA DE agree to interview with us.

Joby Varghese

Joby Varghese: Joby Varghese: Born on 4th June 1977 at a place called Vellikulangara in Thrissur District of Kerala- the southernmost state in India. He completed his bachelor degree in Mathematics from Christ College, Irinnjalakuda.

He has shown an interest in Literature and Cinema from his early childhood. He started writing short stories in Malayalam during his school days. He regularly attends film festivals in different part of Kerala since his college days. He is a member of an active number of film societies functioning in Kerala.

He hasn’t studied in any Film Schools. He has not associated with/ assisted any film makers for learning movie making. He learnt film making by watching movies.

His first short film, Back to Beat (2011) was an experimental film with only one actor. It was made as seven minutes long single shot.

His second short film Vuja de, completed in the year 2017, was also of the genre of experimental film. This film has received official selection atabout 150 international film festivals all over the world. It has got about one hundred of awards for ‘best experimental film, screen play, cinematography, sound design, etc. at these festivals.

Unsee, made in 2019, is also an experimental short film. So far, this film, shot with a single actor, has been selected into the competition section of thirty (30) international film festivals and won five awards.


Poster VUJA DE

About The Film: Synopsis: VUJA DE Film Synopsis:

The changes brought by time in human relations. The dissonances in such changes..And journey of a man that transcends place and time, seeking a solution for those dissonances...




Trailer of "VUJA DE"



What was your drive behind making this film?

Joby Varghese: 1. “Do all men kill all the things they do not love” is what Bossanio asks in Merchant of Venice. We all might be familiar with this quote. But there is a line by Oscar Wilde in ‘The Ballad of Reading Gaol’ which goes like ‘Yet each man kills the thing he love…” It was this line that pushed me to the thought that led to the making of Vuja De.



How do you feelwhen you are awarded with the MP FILM AWARD Award.

Joby Varghese: Vuja De has been screened in 143 international film festivals of different parts of the World. It has received 100 awards from these festivals. Most of the awards were for the category of ‘Best experimental short film’ or ‘Best experimental film’. One festival will have different categories like best experimental short film, best thriller short film, best science fiction short film, etc. But the ‘Best Short Film’ award is given to the one film that is best among all these categories. It is that very award I received at MP Film Award. It is one of the best film festivals where quality films from different parts of the world come to compete. I consider receiving the best short film award at MP Film Awardas a great achievement. It is one achievement that I will cherish with delight and display with pride in my journey ahead.



Can you tell us about the greatest moment during shooting this film?

Joby Varghese: There will be always some moments that are beyond the camera to capture. The scene where the husband played by Jijoy kills his wife (played by Athira) is once such moment. Jijoy has performed in A Midsummer Night Dreamdirected by Mr. Tim Supple (U.K). He brilliantly played Oberon and Theseus in that play that had 365 shows in 28 cities in 6 countries in four continents! Athira was almost new to acting at the time of the shoot. But it was very much visible that she was transforming into and growing with the character from the very start. We planned the shoot in the chronological order. It was decided prior to the shoot that a chronological order of shooting will help the actors to start slowly and attain that hysterical state of mind by the end. The scene was that last to shoot (which was also the last scene of the movie). By the time we were shooting this scene the actors had reached the state of mind that scene demanded. Even at the time of writing the screenplay, I wanted this scene to be shot like a performance in a Shakespearian play. Watching their performance live, from such a close distance, was a great experience for me. It is the energy and briskness of that live performance was the best experience of the entire shoot.



How rigorously did you stick to the script while shooting?

Joby Varghese: I normally allow the actors to improvise. I don’t compel the actors to deliver the exact dialogsas written in the screenplay. I like to accept the dialogs that shape up through the pre-shoot rehearsals without losing the original idea. That is the way I follow while making movies. But the space for such type of improvisation was very limited in case of Vuja De. Each word was chosen with at-most care at the time of writing itself. The language used and theidea conveyed by each of those dialogs should be exact. They are not like normal real-life conversations. There are references about Gabriel García Márquez and his novels. Those references should be correct. Other than changing the sentence construction to keep up with the flow of dialog delivery, though very minimum, Vuja De is a movie that was shot fully following the written screenplay and dialogs. The is only because of the fact that the nature of the movie demands such a treatment. I shot the movie after making the actors understand the meaning, purpose and execution of each of those dialogs.



Where there any onset problems During the filming of the film & how did you deal with it?

Joby Varghese: The scene where the character played by Athira is chatting with her threefriends in the school premises is at the beginning of the movie. That was the first scene we shot. It was Hena, who played the 50 year old wife, who brought the three girls for the shoot. We could not finalise the shoot of that scene even by lunch time. So we decided to continue after lunch. It was then one problem cropped up. One of the girls could be there for the shoot only till lunch time. She had to attend some coaching classes after lunch. She came for the shoot with an understanding that she will be free by lunch time as it was only a small scene! I came to know the issue only during lunch break. Hena was really tensed when conveying the matter. I was also perplexed for a moment. But soon after I got a solution to the problem. I told my crew: “We are shooting a dream sequence. There is nothing permanent/ constant in a dream. Everything will keep on changing. The people who are around will be there at times and will be absent at another time. So, we don’t have an issue to shoot the remaining scene without that girl. You can let her leave.” In fact that incident helped to make the film more experimental. We initially planned the dialogs between Jijoy and Athira on the School Veranda. But with this realization we altered the screen play with these conversations happening in different places of the campus. We could creatively use that uncertain situation. That helped the film.



Do you have any advice for young filmmakers out there? Or like yourself?

Joby Varghese: I am not that grown a person to give advices. I feel sharing experiences is the proper thing to do. Shooting location is a creative space. So I ties to maintain it with a a peaceful and tension free atmosphere. I always feel that a stressful situation will not breed imagination. I give creative freedom to my actors and technicians. Democratic interferences are better for getting best performances from the actors. For me, first take is not the best take. I believe that the best performance is the one that is yet to come. A good actor gets renewed himself/ herself with each take. Adaptability is also very important. Some scenes or dialogs might look wonderful when we write them. But they might not be suitable for performance. There will be situations where we have to change the screenplay suitably after realizing the mistake. One has to face such challenging situations creatively and imaginatively.



Do you think it is essential to go to a film institute in order to become a successful filmmaker?

Joby Varghese: I haven’t studied in any Film Schools. I have not worked as an assistant to any other Director. My textbooks were films themselves. I learnt film making by watching movies. I am not against film schools. It will be always helpful if we could spend three years focusing on films, continuously thinking and learning about films. There is also the discipline of a curriculum. Everything is taught systematically, step by step. When we learn on our own, we may not follow this pedagogy. I don’t think that we can learn film only academically. Whether the colour is white or black, it will suffice if the cat catches mouse.



Which film has inspired you the most?

Joby Varghese: I started watching movies from my early childhood. Lot of movies…. Movies of all genres. But the one movie that changed my sensibility was Vittorio De Sica’sBicycle Thieves. Till that, frames of all the films that I was familiar with were just meant for the hero- to enhance his looks and acting capabilities. But in Bicycle Thieves, the hero is just apart of the mass of people in the frame. There is nothing special for him alone. That realistic method has changed my viewing and outlook.

But the one movie that influenced me the most is Rashamon. Its philosophy… the perspective that truth and falseness & reality and fantasy are influenced by viewpoints… the way the story is narrated in that film… It was a film that influenced me in all aspects.



Which particular filmmaker has influenced you the most?

Joby Varghese: Certainly, it is Akira Kurosawa. I love his static shots and framings and everything. His films are very much philosophical. Rashomon, Seven Samurai, Red Beard… I like all his movies.



Which book would you love to make a film out of one day?

Joby Varghese: The novel ‘Lust for Life written by Irwing Stone is about the impressionist painter, Vincent Van Gogh. It is the story of a man’s entire life full of rejections, failures and retreats. There won’t be any other man who was that much defeated by the life. The novel depicted a man who loved life with that much lust and left defeated with the same vehemence.



If you got the opportunity to go back in time & change something in any particular movie of yours, then which movie & what changes will you opt for?

Joby Varghese: I haven’t used background music in any of my three short films. I only used sounds. I felt that the story demands such a treatment in sound design. Both for Vuja De and Unsee, Renganaath Ravee did the sound design. He has been nominated for this year’s Asian Film Awards. When I was doing my first short film, Back to Beat, we hadn’t known each other. It was a film where sound has lot of role. If I could time travel and rectify that, I would have made Renganaath Ravee to do the sound design of Back to Beat.



If you were to shoot the film again, what would you do differently?

Joby Varghese: Vuja De was shot in two days. Then we did not have the budget to extend the shoot any further. So we had to shoot very fast in a hurry. If I had to shoot Vuja De again, I would shoot it taking a few more days without any hurry. At least four days for sure. It will help the actors to prepare more and to evolve as the characters. That will help bring out better performance from them. Technicians also will be able to work without the pressure of undue timelines. That would have brought out a better Vuja De.



What is your greatest achievement till date?

Joby Varghese: I consider reaching this moment, where I am answering these questions, as a great achievement.

When I was shooting my first short film in the year 2011, I was the only new face in the entire crew! The rest of them have worked in movies prior to that also: whether it is the cinematographer - NoushadShereef or the editor – Sujoy Joseph or Jijoy who acted in it. After that film, a team has been formed with all of them. With the second movie, Renganath Ravee also reached in that team. A team with all these passionate artists and technicians could be formed by working in that films- that is what I considered as the greatest achievement. The friendship that developed in the year 2011 is continuing after ten years also. I am sure that that we will continue to work together as a team in our future projects also. It is indeed a great achievement.



How do you pick yourself up after a failed film?

Joby Varghese: The failure of a movie is a failure of that movie alone. That has become history / past now. It is impossible to rectify that. We can only learn from those mistakes and try not to repeat them. But, I make sure that the mental stress from the failure with a previous project is not creating any pressure while I am working with my next project. The failures help us to move forward with care.



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