A group of inexperienced but talented youngsters worked together and made a short film on anti-smoking – Pughai Padam – a film which was both entertaining and delivered a subtle yet strong message to the audience and won hearts at the TASMANZ Film Festival 2018.

Eight different short films made by different groups of young talents showcased their work at TASMANZ 2018 and raved the audience for their creativity and storytelling prowess.

Of the eights short films produced, one film stood out as the winner of the best film and also grabbed seven other awards at TASMANZ (Tamil Short Movie Association of New Zealand) Film Festival 2018. 

Pughai Padam, a short film made under 9:50 PM Studio supported by Auckland Tamil Association was raved for its black comedy, hints of supernatural element, screenplay, dialogues, camera work etc. The name of the film that simply translates to 'A Smoking Movie' took the subject of smoking not only as a health hazard but also cause of many financial troubles in ones' life.

Through its black comedy and dialogues, using the infamous Mukesh's anti-smoking commercial that is shown in every theatre in India, prior to showing a movie, for educating the moviegoers about perils of smoking.

However, in Pughai Padam’s case, what was standout is the fact that the subtle message was conveyed to audience in the form of a fantastic screenplay from some very talented actors, background music and cinematography.

In fact, it would not be an exaggeration to say that the viewer cannot take his eyes off the screen until the film is over and also cannot stop chuckling every next minute of the film.

The Indian Weekender took the opportunity to speak to the team of the winning film to know more about the motivation and efforts behind their award-winning work, their aspirations to bring out films of such international standards making the community proud. 

Pughai Padam team with their trophies at TASMANZ 2018

The director of the film Vishwa Balasubramanian in conversation with The Indian Weekender tells how he used the concept of comedy to reach out to the audience and touch their chords in making them understand the vices of smoking. He shared this concept with the producer of the film Ravindran Vai, President Auckland Tamil Association (ATA) and worked with his friend and lead actor in the film Madan Senthil, writing dialogues for the script.

Vishwa considers himself amateur, as he is into a different profession and making a movie was just something he wanted to try. The film won the best cinematography award, and one of the most iconic shots was the one-minute continuous shot of four friends talking about 'Ouija Mystical Spirit Board' lying on the floor with their heads tagged to one another and the camera doing a 360 circle over their faces. Vishwa considers the scene an inspiration from a 1997 Tamil film Iruvar directed by Mani Ratnam and shot by award-winning cinematographer Santosh Sivan which gave him an idea to shoot the scene in the similar angle and fashion.

Madan Senthil who is the co-dialogue writer and the lead actor regarded his character as any other person who is in his early adulthood, cunning, lazy and spoiled himself taking up vices like smoking and drinking. His work in the film, especially impeccable comic timing won him the best actor award.

Vishwa commends his other team members especially the actors and the post-production team for giving the film a fine tune and polishing the movie to come in par with international standards. 

"After every day of the shoot, I would show the scenes to Vai [Ravindran-producer], and he would ask to explain the shots and give me feedback," Vishwa said during the interview.

The film will soon be sent to different international short film festivals and is positive to get accolades and win awards at such international platforms as well.

Both Vishwa and Madan are excited with their second consecutive win and have already started working on their next project which will be screened at TYO Film competition. 

The film has won eight total awards, such as best short film, dialogue, music (Sasank Sivasubramanian), production design (Anamika Balachander), lead actor (Madan Senthil), cinematography (Santosh Durai), best director and screenplay Vishwa Balasubramanian.