The Dead End: A Slice Of Life Film
Actor and Writer – Director Aditya Om, known in the Telugu regional cinema for his commercial films and having done some Hindi movies as well, opens up about the story of The Dead End with his producer and actor friend Saidah Jules. The film was screened for the first time at Film Bazaar and is a surreal film that’s dark in it’s concept and a story everyone would connect with, they claim. Read on to know more about the film.
Tell us something about the film.
Aditya – This film is about children. There’s a girl who is going to commit suicide and meets a man who’s alive but he thinks he is dead. He suffers from a disease called Cotard Delusion where a living man thinks he’s dead. So the girl’s entire perspective about life is being changed by a dead man. I have also introduced other characters like a monk and a criminal who come in the film and represent their religious points of view towards life. The title itself The Dead End indicates the existential crisis we face every day where most of our questions about life, love and death are unanswered. It is that dead end. We have reached the end of material prosperity but still there are so many questions left unanswered and I’m trying to explore that through a journey.
How did you come up with the idea?
Aditya – For that, you need to be frustrated enough. If you are frustrated and not satisfied with life, only then would such ideas come to you.
And how did you go about the casting?
Aditya – Saidah (Jules) and I were working on a regional film. I am basically based in the Telugu film industry and have done several commercial films. So I met Saidah while we were working on a Telugu film and became friends. I keep doing some off-beat films in Hindi as well. My last film was Dozakh – In Search Of Heaven and I’ve also made films like Shudra: The Rising about the caste system (I was the Associate Producer) and Bandook on the gun culture. So I just narrated this crazy idea to Saidah and she was gullible enough to like it.
Saidah – My obvious main focus was to become a producer. I run my own companies, one in India and the other in Dubai, that produce films. I had been looking to produce a film for quite a long time but I didn’t come across a project that I liked enough to take it forward. Aditya and I spoke and we worked together in another film where I was acting. So it just happened and from an idea it became a movie now and is screening at the Film Bazaar.
Saidah, you’ve been doing a couple of dance and song films down South and this movie is a very grey subject compared to what you’ve done in the past. Is this your first film as a producer?
Yes this is my first film as a producer and in fact, in the future I am more interested in producing films and not acting in them. I love such kind of subjects and whatever films I produce in the future will have to have a topic that catches my attention and connects with the audience. I think that everyone would relate to this film because it’s about people who have lost excitement in life. I think everyone goes through this stage where one questions their reason for living and feels quite depressed. This subject is about death and I expressed all my emotions through the film. Aditya’s script was exactly what I was feeling and thinking at that time.
Aditya, did you get certified or is this the very first screening?
No. This is the first screening. We had planned for the first screening to be in Goa. We are still in the last stages of Post Production. Our idea with this film is to go around the festival circuit and then look at distribution and other things. First we want to see if we’ve made something worthwhile.
So when you are making a film like this, are you looking specifically at the festival market?
Aditya – No. But sometimes those questions do come to mind when you are trying to match sensibilities. When I am making commercial films, I put some of my sensibilities in the refrigerator. (Laughs) I can’t work if I don’t cater to the youth. The so-called Indie-culture is in a bracket where we are only trying to show the underbelly of our culture – the poverty, the malnutrition and superstition. What I’ve tried to portray is that India, which is a beautiful country and has a history of thoughts and philosophy.
Saidah – As a producer, I didn’t want to make a movie with a cause. I wanted to make a film from the heart where you just connect.
Aditya – It’s a very un-film film.
What language is the film in?
Aditya – English.
Saidah – The film was made in India. So although the film is in English, the Director is Indian, most of the crew and cast is Indian and the production was based in India as well.
Aditya – We made it in English because we wanted it to reach the maximum audience possible and the essence of the thought could have been lost if not done in English. If I can describe it in one line it would be: “Sometimes you lose your way and arrive at the right place.” So, if I had put it in any other language the essence would be lost to international audience. It is a very surrealistic film. If it was a film about slums, temple traditions or devdasis, I would have made it in a local language.
How long did you take to complete the movie?
Aditya – We took 30 days to shoot the film but pre-production started in January.
Saidah – We started the project in January and finished it just a few days back and for India that’s very fast because everything gets delayed here. We did it quite fast because it was planned and organized well.
Transcribed by Shivangi Lahoty