AN UNRELATED TRILOGY

Posted: October 14, 2012 in Entertainment, Movies

Some years ago, while I was busy writing INGILI (Finger) which was based on an award winning short story written by a fourteen year old student at the National Short Story Competition 2007, Ravee and I came up with this idea of turning the main concept of this short story into a trilogy. But this trilogy wasn’t going to be related to each other. All three films will have a standalone narrative within the concept of two characters in one location.

INGILI has the same concept but the proceedings takes place between two male characters inside a small hut at the beach on a very rainy night. We bought all the rights of this short story for an undisclosed amount and in no time I came up with a screenplay. At that time, actor Muaa was also a co-producer alongside Ravee and me. But due to few personal problems Muaa backed out from producing. Then cinematographer Hussain Munnavvaru took the reins as the third producer.

Things were fast tracked and soon, the production was green lit and principal photography started in Kaafu Gulhi. We built a set from scratch on the beach of this island. We even devised a pipe system to create rain with full manual control.

However, things went downhill from the very first day the cast and crew sailed off to begin production which was scheduled for five straight days. Even before the cast and crew reached the island of Gulhi, the ferry they were sailing stopped in the middle of the sea with an engine failure. Bad luck kept hitting one after the other throughout the entire production. It looked as if the production of INGILI had bad luck written all over.

The first night of shooting was delayed by hours because the pipe system mysteriously failed. The crew had no time to fix it thereafter. Thus, rain was then created the old-fashioned way by using a water pump and a hosepipe. But then something else slowed down our control on the set. Suddenly, the weather turned all bad. Since the set was made outdoor, production was unable to continue at a long stretch.

So whenever the weather turned favorable, shooting resumed, sometimes for an hour and then waited without shooting for many hours until rain subsided. Bad luck kept prevailing. The water pumps crashed several times. One of the crew even had a bad cut on his hand while fixing a water pump. The pressure was piling on the five days schedule which in the end was extended to fifteen long days. Soon the shoe-string budget smashed the ceiling. We were really botched up big time.

Few days after the production team returned from shooting, we hit the biggest of all snags. We found out that the short story which my screenplay was based on was actually a rip-off of a concept of the fourth segment of FOUR ROOMS. That was the last nail that was driven hard in to our coffin. Post production went to a dead halt. The passion we had in making the mother of all experimental movies soon disappeared. Editing went at snail’s pace. After the rough cut was made, I don’t remember having watched it. Post production of INGILI was buried not just six but several feet under.

Two years later, for reasons unknown, we decided to resurrect INGILI. So we pulled it up from the grave and resumed post-production. But at the time when post-production of INGILI was stalled, Ravee and I began working on the second installment of our trilogy. This time the two characters were a male and a female and the location was inside the apartment they both lived.

During the two years we desisted working on INGILI, a friend of mine I befriended through either MSN or Facebook, which one I’m not sure, thanks to old age creeping in each passing day, asked me if I could comment on a screenplay he wrote for a short film.

He is Ahmed Rasheed from Laamu Fonadhoo and heads a production house there called Mandheyra Production. He mailed his screenplay of 26 pages. It was called MIKOE BAPPA BAEY BAEY (Come My Baby’s Father). After a gripping read, I found it had all the elements needed for the second installment to our trilogy and moreover it had great potential to be made into a feature film. But I didn’t tell Ahmed about this since he asked me to find a producer who might be interested in buying his screenplay and Ravee and I were in no shape to invest on producing another film anytime soon. None of the producers I met with were ready to take a commercial risk. Even Ahmed met in person with a high profile actor-director who was at that time shooting a film in his island. Even to this day, Ahmed has never heard of him ever again.

When neither Ahmed nor I could attach any producers to the screenplay, Ahmed decided to produce it on his own. I met with Ravee immediately and told him about the screenplay. Ravee was thrilled and asked me to negotiate with Ahmed. I called Ahmed the very next day. I asked him if he was willing to sell his screenplay to us so that once we have enough funding we could produce it. He spoke with his collaborators at his production house. Fortunately, they decided to sell all the rights to us as they knew the screenplay was going to be in good hands. Ravee had a read and when he gave me the green light, I sealed the deal with Ahmed within that week. If I remember correctly, the rights were bought on the last week of July 2010.

The outlining of MBBB went pretty neatly but writing was not immediate. I remember having few delays on the latter due to several health issues I faced and a month long fasting season that fell in between. But many months later I finally rewrote the screenplay with a more in-depth screen story including much more layered characters and a very disturbing back-story. Ahmed’s screenplay was completely re-imagined and revamped.

At the time of writing MBBB I couldn’t think of any other actor but Rishmy for the leading role. Ravee met with her and convinced her to accept the role. Even Ahmed had her on his mind and casting her really paid off. She not only played her character with great aplomb, but she gave a much needed grit to her character.

In one simple wide shot that was revealed in the first official trailer of MBBB where Rishmy carries an unconscious Manik on her shoulder and climbs the stairs is a moment to behold. I must give three cheers to Rishmy since she decided to do it herself. And that shot more than described the sheer strength of her character in the film.

For this particular scene, in my screenplay I wrote close up shots of her feet ascending the stairs and a close up shot of Manik thinking that any actress who played that role wouldn’t be able to achieve that feat in a wide shot. Even Ravee wanted to follow the screenplay. But it was Rishmy who insisted on going for the wide shot. She went the distance and made her character all too plausible. In the film, Rishmy plays a determined mother who would do anything to protect her child even by risking her own life. Need I to say more?

After I rewrote the screenplay of MBBB, Ravee and I approached several producers. Sadly they all declined because of the risky concept which the screenplay was based on and they didn’t forsee dollar signs twinkling from their eyes.

Just to give one last shot at MBBB going in front of the camera real soon, we approached producer Mohamed Ali aka Mogre, the honcho of Dark Rain Entertainment (DRE). He green lit the production almost immediately. Ravee and I were really surprised. Soon we both met with Mogre and cinematographer Shifau and fast tracked production in no time. Rishmy accepted the role without any hesitation and Manik was offered the leading male role though we wanted a rookie at first. We realized Manik inhibited the characteristic of that role far stronger than anyone we could think of. Rishmy and Manik was a perfect match.

Principal photography of MBBB started on 17th April 2012. It was made on a shoe-string budget compared to the other films DRE has produced so far. Photography was wrapped up in thirteen or fifteen days. At present, editing has been done including dubbing. All the CGI shots are made except for one which will be completed in two days time. Currently the final cut is ready for music and sound design. Ravee has already started working on a second trailer based on very positive comments we have received. So stay tuned.

Going back to the current status of INGILI, composer Mohamed Ikram has finished music including sound design. Ravee will have the final copy with music come Saturday, which means INGILI will be ready for releasing as well. But we are in a total fix to release INGILI before MBBB. The availability of Olympus Cinema which is undergoing huge renovations even as I speak, the chances are just nil for INGILI. The cinema is scheduled to re-open in mid November. INGILI has a slot only available in late December. However, DRE has a slot already available right after Olympus is re-opened. The studio is hoping to release MBBB in that period, meaning MBBB will be released before INGILI. But Ravee and I don’t mind since both films are from the same unrelated trilogy. We just want any of them released as soon as possible.

To end this post on a happy note, DRE has already verbally agreed to produce the final installment when Ravee and I pitched them our idea. The third and final installment will have two female characters once again at one location. We are still brainstorming. However, one thing I can reveal here is that we have decided on a very cool title which sums up the whole narrative. And I have also come up with a rough outline of the screenplay. Ravee finds it awesome. Hopefully I will start writing the third installment somewhere around January next year. So stay tuned for more updates on all three installments of an unrelated trilogy.

Cheers!

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