There is a scene in the movie Flavors where two software guys on the bench are playing cards to while away their time. One looks at the other and says (and I’m paraphrasing here), “We should do something other than software yaar. Maybe make a movie.” To which the other replies, “Do you think anyone would pay to watch a movie about a couple of software guys on the bench?”
That is pretty much the story of Raj Nidimoru and Krishna DK, two techies from Silicon Valley who got fed up with their careers in the computer industry and decided to make a movie. Flavors was their first full length feature film, a witty movie about a group of connected people in the software industry. (Its sly look at the desi life is so spot on it actually makes for uncomfortable watching at times).
“In the golden days of IT we had so much time, we started thinking and writing a script out of sheer boredom,” explains Raj. The two friends found a camcorder and shot a short film. Being techies, the technical part of movie-making was not hard to pick up. “We did everything,” says Raj, “from writing to editing to sound.” They created a thriller called Just Me, shot on 16 mm, and sent it around to film festivals. The film made waves and opened doors for them.
The film caught the attention of producer Anupam Mittal who suggested they make a full length feature next. The two fledgling film makers pulled in some money from family and friends and made Flavors. The film did excellent business through word of mouth, even though multiplexes were a nascent phenomenon when the movie was released. It was bought by Star TV in India and HBO in Europe. (The economics for movies are such that the big screen take is only a small part of the revenue. Films that succeed on cable and satellite are much better earners for their makers. Raj jokes, “Of course, our viewers in the US saw it on a pirated version! The Indian stores would simple download the movie online and make 10 copies.”)
Now the enterprising team of Raj and Krishna is ready with its second movie, 99 under the banner D2Rfilms. 99, which is intriguingly set in India in the year 1999, is a mainstream Hindi movie starring such well known actors as Boman Irani and Soha Ali Khan.
“Making a movie in India is a totally different experience,” says Raj. “There are a lot of rules you have to work with. You have the unions. Tasks get delegated to professionals. When we were independent film makers we did everything. Now we have to wait for others to finish their part of the job. The dates for the stars have to be managed. It can get overwhelming at times.”
99 is once again being produced by Anupam Mittal, who helped them with flavors. Also starring Kunal Khemu and a bunch of theater actors, the movie is a thriller whose plot Raj is keeping pretty close to his chest. “What we are trying to do is make something fresh and entertaining,” he says. “You can tell from the trailer that there is some talk of betting. There is a reason the film is set in 1999. There are a lots of twists and turns in the movie.” Beyond that he is maddeningly opaque.
Still, the presence of well known actors is reassuring. “Boman and Cyrus( Broacha) liked Flavors a lot,” explains Raj. The main actors of the movie also saw a short film made by D2Rfilms called Shor that was very well received at Cannes and Palm Springs Festivals. “It was easy to convince them to join the project after they had seen our previous work,” adds Raj.
99 releases on May 8th in India, May 15th in UK, US and other locations around the world.