Karthick Naren On The 5 Films That Taught Him Direction

From Alfred Hitchcock's 1960 film Psycho to Christopher Nolan's thriller, The Prestige (2006) - here are the director's cinematic influences
Karthick Naren On The 5 Films That Taught Him Direction

Short-film director Karthick Naren made his transition to the big screen when he helmed Dhuruvangal Pathinaaru in 2016, at the age of 21. His next is the fantasy-thriller Naragasooran, slated for release this year. In an interview, he said he watched many films to glean information about directorial techniques. The self-proclaimed Christopher Nolan fan listed five films he learnt a lot from, saying the "distinctive features" of each made for a "unique learning" at every point.

The Prestige (2006)

This is my all-time favourite film. From the starting frame to the final shot, it's all about storytelling. The irony is that the film is about magic and magicians, but the magic trick is played on the audience. I learnt how to use the three acts to hold the audience's attention. The first shot and the last shot of the movie are like identical twins.

Kannathil Muthamittal (2002)

Mani Ratnam's film taught me about the aftertaste of films. That is the one factor we have to be very conscious about. Nolan said in an interview that the ending of a film is important, because after a film is over, our mind will take five minutes to process what we just saw. That's why we have to get to the ending first before we get to the beginning, he said. In Kannathil Muthamittal, that aftertaste was really strong when Nandita Das walks away after the confrontation and there's a freeze frame where the three of them are under an umbrella and the song Vellai Pookal starts. The way in which emotions were conveyed in that film was top-notch.

The Secret In Their Eyes (2009)

This is a Spanish film, it's an emotional crime thriller. At the end of the movie, the hero arrives to convey his love and the way in which the film ends is something else.

Psycho (1960)

When it comes to this film, it's all about filmmaking, editing, and how to make a film suggestive. If you ask me, the best form of violence is suggestive violence. When you show the audience what has happened exactly, there is no room for their imagination. According to me, storytelling is 50% of what the narrator wants to say and 50% of what the audience want to take (away). It's not just the shower scene, but everything in the movie, like the narration in the end where he looks into the camera. I think looking into the camera is a very powerful tool. It's like saying, 'Okay, we are aware that you are also a part of our journey. Tell us what happened.' In Psycho, Hitchcock has beautifully explained the power of editing and how it can change a character in a matter of seconds.

Memories Of Murder (2003)

In Memories Of Murder, I learnt about the sense of an open ending. I personally believe after the film ends, you should leave something to the audience. Instead of me telling the audience that this is where the film ends, I say that this is where the movie might have ended, but you complete the story. In Memories Of Murder, I think that the final scene where he comes back to that spot is one of the most haunting shots ever. The girl says, 'You know, it is funny, there was one more guy here who told me the same answer.' As soon as she says this, he looks directly into the camera and that is one of the most haunting shots because it's like saying, 'Okay, I'm aware that you were travelling with me for so long. Now tell me, do you know who that is?' – it feels like the character is asking us that. That film has a subjective narration – as the detective discovers everything, the audience discovers it with him. So there is a personal connect with the audience.

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