For director Karthik Subbaraj, making the silent film Mercury has been a big learning. “Normally, dialogues will help a lot and you can use it as a cheat also. In a silent film, what you shoot with ten shots and a montage can normally be delivered using a single dialogue in a normal movie. For example, suppose my father is a gambler and he as gambled away our wealth, this can easily be conveyed through dialogue. But without dialogue I have to show many things,” he says, while noting that this makes it an interesting challenge.
Subbaraj was confident the film could be done without dialogue from the time the plot came to him. However he did have a small fear which prompted him to write. “I did not simply go to a producer and get committed to do this movie or anything. I had started this parallel to another project and thought I would write. When I first wrote the one-liner and wrote for 6-7 pages from beginning to end, I got the confidence that it could be done,” he says.
However, the process did not end with screenwriting. For Subbaraj, it continues till the end of the film. “A scene has to convey a story and an emotion. It has to come across in their performance, and the visual. And then in post, it has to come in the sound and music. It lies in the entire process. If a scene comes out really well, normally you will know about it in the shoot itself. But in this case, we will not know until the end.”
“In the end it will be a problem if the audience says that it was good in bits and places but they did not understand what the entire story was. But because of that, the story cannot be forced also. It had to be abstract in certain places,” he says. However, he thinks the film has turned out very well. “So far everyone who has seen it has liked it and they are discussing the story of the movie. Nobody was discussing the lack of dialogues.”