Freddie’s Piano, the upcoming independent feature film directed by Aakash Prabhakar, will release on Neestream on Thursday. 

The film is produced by Somasekhar Kovvuri, Lisa Kovvuri and Mathivanan Rajendran under the Stray Factory banner in association with Here and Now Production and Silcrun INC. The film’s director, Aakash, has also donned the hat of an actor and a co-writer for the film. It also features actors Mathivanan, Drishya Gautham, Leela Samson, Mekha Rajan and Anirudh, among several others.  

The film follows Aden (played by Aakash) who wants to gift his brother Freddie (played by Pranav) a piano for Christmas. However, Aden finds himself struggling to even pay Freddie’s school bus fee. Freddie, on the other hand, wants his brother to be free, as he was when their father was alive. In the end, both brothers learn that what they really need is each other.

The film was screened at the 2021 New York Indian Film Festival and the 2020 Scottsdale International Film Festival. 

In conversation with Silverscreen India, Aakash who is also a theatre artist says that Freddie’s Piano explores the themes of brotherhood, being there for the family, unfulfilled wishes and emotions like innocence, love and grief. Aakash adds that films like Children of Heaven, Stanley Ka Dabba, Life Is Beautiful and Iranian films that explored the idea of children’s innocence, inspired him to make Freddie’s Piano. “The emotions conveyed in my film are universal and a global audience can connect with it,” he says, calling Freddie’s Piano an English-Tamil film as the characters speak both languages in the film.

Aakash says, for Freddie’s role, he needed a boy who could play the piano. The makers chose Pranav Mylarassu from AR Rahman’s KM Music Conservatory. “We did acting workshops and a few screens tests. We handpicked the other actors, most of them had a background in theatre,” he says. 

For Aakash, the idea for making Freddie’s Piano is very close to his heart as it was inspired by a personal experience.

“When I was around eleven years old, I began learning how to play the piano. After a while, I really enjoyed playing it and asked my mom if she could get me one. At that time, buying a piano was a costly affair. After she learnt how keen I was on playing the instrument, she bought me one. It was only a few years later that she told me how she had to make more effort and save money to buy the instrument. That incident has stayed with me forever. It made me write Freddie’s Piano,” he says. 

Aakash says that he initially wrote Freddie’s Piano as a short story and later developed the idea into a feature film. He notes that a few years ago, while taking part in a film workshop in New York, he met a potential producer who was willing to invest. After he and other crew members came on board, the project took off in 2018. 

“I roped in filmmaker Batul Mukhtiar, who made the National Award-winning film Kaphal, as a co-writer for Freddie’s Piano,” he says. 

The outdoor scenes of the film were shot in Puducherry and the indoor scenes were shot in Chennai. On choosing Puducherry as the primary location for the film, Aakash says that the film’s rhythm is slow and he did not want it to be set in the hustle and bustle of a metropolitan city. While noting that Goa, as a shoot location, is “overdone”, he adds that he opted for Puducherry as it was a beautiful town to explore and since he is familiar with the place and the language spoken there. 

“It took around six months to finish scripting and we began the pre-production in early 2019. The film was shot for around 25 days, not at a stretch but spanning through six months. We did simultaneous edits as well. In the end of 2019, we began the post-production and the final sound mixing was done remotely during the Covid-19 induced lockdown,” he adds.