IFFI 2017: Pihu director Vinod Kapri on making the world's first film starring only a two-year-old
Vinod Kapri, director of Pihu, which is the opening film at IFFI 2017, talks about the protagonist — a two-year-old — also the sole character in the film.
National Award-winning filmmaker Vinod Kapri's Pihu is the opening film at the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) 2017. Pihu is a special film. Not because its protagonist is a two-year-old child and also not because she is the only character in the film, but maybe because the whole crew and the child's family lived in the same apartment for a while to get her attuned to the film.
Read on as the director reveals more such riveting details about his film, in an exclusive interview with Firstpost:
How did you cast Myra Vishwakarma as Pihu?
I have known her parents. They're both journalists. I saw her at a birthday party and it was kind of, love at first sight. I had the story in my mind for two to four years but I wasn't sure how to execute it. Myra's chirpiness blew me away. The next morning, I approached her parents with the film and they agreed after much deliberation.
How did you get the reactions you wanted to get out of a two-year-old?
Before shooting the film, I knew that you can't get a two-year-old act. You can't make her understand that you're shooting film. She doesn't even understand the concept of a film. The beauty of the film is that the main protagonist is unaware of the fact that she is acting in a film.
Did your script suffer at all, since you wanted to keep her reactions as natural as possible?
I'll answer this in three parts. First, when I first met this girl (Myra), she was a year and nine months old. But when the film started shaping up, I realised that I made mistake by trying to get into the shoes of a 2-year-old girl and writing her thought process, which is not the correct way to write the script.
So I started meeting her every alternate day, spending time with her, observing her. I realised that I must completely change my screenplay, without letting it affect my story.
Second, before beginning production, we rented a flat and all of us shifted there — the crew and the family of the child. I introduced my crew to Myra as we did not want her to feel uneasy.
Thirdly, because we did not want to be super-professional with her, 80 percent of our time was spent in playing with her. The remaining 20 percent was invested in shooting. So, creating the right environment by familiarising ourselves to her was instrumental in the making of the film.
This seems like a time-consuming process.
The first few days were exceptionally tough. We hardly shot 20-30 seconds of footage. Then we realised that it was completely our fault because we cannot expect a kid to repeat action. In a created situation, she would give her natural reaction just once. Therefore, we changed our strategy and rented two more cameras. With three cameras, we were able to capture multiple shots and consequently, expressions in one take.
Since yours is a social thriller, do you think one should make films on issues one does not support wholeheartedly?
Absolutely. Pihu is a story of my life because I have had some bitter marital relationships. I was convinced that at the end of the day it is the child who suffers. I wasn't sure how to communicate this thought to the people. I knew I did not want to give the idea a cliched treatment. So I knew I wanted to tell the story through the kid's point of view.
How did your journalistic sensibilities come into play during the making of Pihu?
Being a journalist, you sometimes come across bizarre stories which you cannot even imagine as a fiction-writer. Therefore, my experience in the journalistic field helps me develop these stories into films. A lot of characters and incidents in my films are often a part of actual stories that I have tackled during my journalistic career.
What do you think of the I&B Ministry's alleged role in dropping two films from the festival?
I have equal respect for all films and know what it takes to make a small budget film. I am aware of the controversy but do not know what conspired as nothing is on record. Therefore, I wouldn't say much about it.
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