An Elephant Safari
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Srinivas Sunderrajan's new film chases a pachyderm through the streets of Mumbai
In 2010, filmmaker Srinivas Sunderrajan created a buzz in the indie cinema circuit with his experimental thriller, The Untitled Karthik Krishnan Project, made on a budget of Rs 40,000. Now, two years and several rave reviews later, Sunderrajan, 28, is ready with his second project, Greater Elephant, the story of a mahout who loses his elephant in Mumbai. Peppered with dark humour, the film follows the mahout who goes on a unique quest to recover his elephant. The film, which will release next month, is doing the rounds of film festivals and has won the Jury Award for Best Film at the South Asian International Film Festival 2011 in New York.
"Once, I saw a mahout with his elephant in a crowded market in Mumbai. At that time, I just thought — what if the mahout were to wake up the next morning and find that his elephant was missing? That's how the seed of this film was sown. It's quite a metaphor in itself. What are the odds of a huge animal like an elephant getting lost in a city?" says Sunderrajan. The mahout is joined by a motley group of people, and the director adds that their quest is deep-rooted in an existential dilemma. In many ways, the search for the elephant turns into a search for something greater, a sort of purpose.
Sunderrajan says that the narrative style in the film has been kept simple as the story is layered with metaphorical meanings. "Since the script takes the story forward, there was no room for visual or camera gimmicks," says Sunderrajan.
Interestingly, he had planned Greater Elephant in his college days, long before The Untitled Karthik Krishnan Project took shape.
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