Janazah, the upcoming Malayalam independent short film starring veteran actor Mamukkoya, will premiere on the Saina Play OTT platform.
The short film is written and directed by Kiran Kambrath.
Speaking to Silverscreen India, Kiran says Janazah is an Arabic word that refers to the funeral prayer which is part of Islamic rituals. “The 20-minute fantasy short film revolves around an octogenarian named Gandharvan Haji (Mamukkoya) whose last wish is to experience his funeral procession while still alive. His children are taken aback when he tells them this. The film follows the efforts taken by Haji’s children to fulfil his dream and how he cherishes his ride to death.”
Kiran notes that the motive behind this short film is to highlight a different perspective on death. “Usually, emotions like fear and grief are associated with death. But Janazah will explore the beauty of death through Haji’s character,” he says, adding that he adapted his friend Fayas Bilalwal’s story for the film.
Since the film revolves around a religious practice, Kiran and his team extensively researched Islamic traditions and rituals. “Haji’s character has shades of Sufism and mysticism. In the trailer, Haji talks about his idea of life and death. He narrates how both humans and gods were in heaven before the former was sent to earth. He also adds that God had given the keys to humans for the doors to heaven,” the filmmaker explains.
Kiran had Mamukkoyya in mind while developing Haji’s character. “Mamukkoya, who is predominantly known for comic roles, has presented a different facet of his acting skill here. Despite his established career in mainstream cinema, he was very supportive of this small project.”
The short film was predominantly shot in Wayanad and Kozhikode districts in December 2020. “We had around eight different locations for 10 scenes. The beautiful landscapes reflect how Haji sees fantasy-filled visuals when his children manage to fulfil his odd wish without the knowledge of the villagers. It was challenging to shoot in multiple locations amid the Covid-19 pandemic,” says Kiran.
Janazah is produced by a group of aspiring filmmakers, including Kiran, cinematographer and editor Ghanashyam, along with Sajin Vennarveetil, Riyas Wayanad and Sijil Raj.
“Despite the difficulties we faced in pooling funds, we have not compromised on the quality. We used the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K that gives feature-film quality output. The audiography has been done by Dawn Vincent, who worked on the Tovino Thomas-starrer Kala. We have also incorporated VFX in a few of the fantasy scenes,” Kiran adds.
Some of the technicians of Janazah previously worked on a short film titled Colours of Dream (2016) that won an award in the short film competition conducted by The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights.
Given the opportunity, Kiran says he would like to develop Janazah into a feature film. “While shooting Janazah, we came up with a lot of interesting ideas and realised that the story has the scope to be made as a feature film. But we had to limit it to the short film format due to budget constraints.”
About how the OTT premiere on Saina Play came about, the filmmaker says the team pitched Janazah to Saina media with the trailer. “They liked it and paid us a one-shot settlement for premiering it on their channel.”
The release date of Janazah is yet to be announced.