Siblings Satish and Santosh Babusenan want audiences to confront their hidden feelings with their feature Ottayaal Paatha (The Narrow Path).
Satish and Santosh Babusenan are brothers who started their career as cinematographers. They have shot and produced several music videos, corporate videos and short films in Mumbai. Their foray into feature filmmaking started in 2015 with Chaayam Poosiya Veedu (The Painted House). The CBFC refused to grant it a certificate because of scenes in which the female lead was naked. The relentless brothers then took the matter to court and the film was certified with no cuts. Now they’re back with their second feature film Ottayaal Paatha (The Narrow Path). Both films have been jointly written, shot and directed by them.
Excerpts from a quick chat:
Their cinematic journey
Satish: I was in high school. I watched Hollywood films and I loved them. Our uncle was an art-house filmmaker. He took us to watch Ingmar Bergman’s Cries and Whispers. For a week after that, I was more or less off my rocker. I didn’t know what was happening around me. It was pretty much the same for Santosh. (laughs)
Though I did my engineering, I wanted to make films. The first film we had planned fell apart because of budget constraints. Santosh and I moved to Mumbai and did a lot of music videos and shows for Channel V and MTV. But we felt that deeper questions in life had to be answered. So we left.
The story behind Ottayaal Paatha (The Narrow Path)
Satish: Sometimes you have things deep inside you that you want to share understood. As human beings, we usually hide a lot of things like particular incidents or emotions because we have an image of ourselves. We present this image to others and unfortunately, even to ourselves. That keeps us bound to the suffering and frustrations of life.
The basic premise of the film is that you have to bring it up, see it and understand it to be able to be free. It’s okay for us to be that horrid thing that we never thought we were. But we are what we are. We paint ourselves in bright colours and believe that that’s what we are and therefore we are miserable. This film explores a very difficult relationship between a father and a son.
Why the film holds universal appeal
Satish: These are questions which we seldom ask ourselves. We always get caught up. We all know we’re miserable but we never ask ourselves why. This film could be a call to introspection. It could be cathartic.
Filmmakers they are envious of
Satish: I’ve freed myself thankfully. The idols I used to carry around in my head are no longer there. But if I had to name a few, they would be Sergei Parajanov, Andrei Tarkovsky, Ingmar Bergman.
Santosh: I’m always trying to be myself. If there are influences, they’re unconscious. I admire Parajanov, Tarkovsky, Bergman, Fellini.
Freshman tip for aspiring filmmakers
Satish: There are two traits to filmmaking as in all kinds of art. With arthouse movies, you can do what you want without looking at the market. Mainstream movies are guided by the market. Even your casting has to go by the market or you’ll land in deep shit. If you choose the path of art, you have to be authentic and say only what you want to say. And only if you have to. And if you’ve decided that you’re going to, just say it. Don’t worry about whether it gets picked up or goes to festivals. Do it for the sheer joy of doing it. That’s the only way to create art.
Santosh: Discover it yourself. Do your own stuff. Make the films you like making. Do whatever you feel like doing.