I don’t support child abuse or rape, says Memories of a Machine director Shailaja Padindala
Shailaja Padindala-directed Youtube short film Memories of a Machine has made waves at Seattle South Asian Film Festival (SSAFF), Bangalore Queer Film Festival (BQFF) 2016, and other film festivals. On YouTube itself, it has got over 69,620 views so far in just three days.
The short film, Memories of a Machine, explores the notion of sexuality through human moral and instincts as a woman narrates her first sexual experience as a curious young girl and her quirky struggles in discovering “self” amid the traditionally bound system.
Malayalam actress Kani Kusruti is seen playing the lead role in the short film and the camera is done by Sandeep PS.
Here, director Shailaja Padindala and actress Kani Kusruti talk to Narada News about the movie, their chemistry and the criticism that surrounds the movie.
First, excerpts from conversation with Shailaja Padindala:
What inspired you to make this movie?
Primarily personal experience and others’ accounts. The movie is about how the protagonist enjoyed sexual pleasure for the first time when she was just eight years old. It is immaterial whether it was due to an adult or a peer. What matters is how a girl experienced her first sexual pleasure at such a tender age.
In the movie, the protagonist talks about being ‘touched’ by an adult peon. This has raised criticism that it promotes child abuse and is being soft on rapists. Is that true?
NEVER. I am a woman. I do not support child abuse or rape. I know the pain. If I ever see a child being abused, I would protect him/her with brickbats. Memories of a Machine does not intend to send a message or to romanticise child abuse. It is an attempt to portray a child’s natural thought towards sexual pleasure. Of what a child might feel before it is confronted with societal norms and morals.
In a Q&A session, you said that Memories of a Machine is just a trailer and you want to make it into a movie. Is there any development?
No, I have grown out of it. I had written it a long time ago and now am into a different aspect of film-making. I am making a totally different type of movie.
Despite being a Kannadiga, you chose to direct the movie in Malayalam as “Kani was the only actress I could imagine doing the role in my movie”, as you said in an interview. Why so?
I met Kani three years ago. I told her about the script. She had a lot of disagreement about the script and could not relate to certain aspects. However, we connected otherwise and had a good chemistry. I thought only she could do justice to this role and since she is uncomfortable in Kannada, we did in her mother tongue Malayalam.
Here, I would like to stress that Kani is just an actress and she just played a role in the movie. Her acting is so natural that some people have mistaken that she is sharing her own experience in ‘Memories of a Machine’.
Have you found any difference in audience response abroad when compared to that in India?
It is high time people realise that India is not just about Bollywood or wax-chested heroes. It is more than that, it is about realistic filmmaking, dialogues that actually deliver and touch the soul.
Actress-model Kani Kusruti, too, talked about her foray into acting, on how she took such a bold role and her inspiration.
What prompted you to take such a bold role?
I don’t know what ‘being bold’ means. I just do what the director tells me to. I am open to commercial movies also. If my chemistry with the director is good, I can do any role that the director asks me to. Even though I may have disagreements, I try to get into the skin of the character.
You started off with theatre and have now forayed into films and serials. Is it an attempt to expand the horizon or pure money matter?
I never intended to be an actor. It just happened. I started doing theatre at the age of 15 years. Luckily I have very progressive parents who encouraged me to follow my will. I like science and am curious by nature. My foray into films, serials and modeling is a part of it. And yes, money of course.
Do you follow any particular style of acting?
After being in theatre for six-seven years, I felt the need to fine-tune my acting skills. I even went to France in my pursuit. More than acting, I am interested in contemporary dance. Hence, I practice physical acting which helps me to use my body to express the protagonist’s emotions. I am also a part of Abhinaya theatre in Thiruvananthapuram, which has exposed me to different styles of acting.
Any inspiration, in acting?
There are many, at different moments different actors have inspired me. Right now, the first name that comes to my mind is Manju Warrier (Malayalam film actress). I enjoy watching her movies and her style of acting.
How do you select your script?
As I said, I am a director’s actor. If it clicks well with the director, the script does not matter much. And if the shooting involves visits to exotic locales, I am all for it.
To watch Memories of a Machine, click here.