Doesn’t it Feel Numb?

Cast: Kokilan Maheswaran, Rubinthan Raveendarajah, Sinthu Muruku, Dharshika Pathmanathan, Kandeepan Ranganathan, Dalmaine Cole, Pawan Uppal, Divaun Mills, Jamie Sodhi

Anticipated Release: Winter 2012 (Jan/Feb)

Take a deep breath. As you exhale, empty your mind of all the thoughts running through it. For a moment feel the weight of your body, the memories stored there, the life you’ve lived.

Immerse yourself in all the emotions this brings to you, and let go of any hope. Allow the darkness of moments past to come to you, knowing that you cannot change them. “Doesn’t it feel numb?”

The first feature length film produced by Basement Office Pictures, The Numb takes us through a visceral journey in the character of an addict, as he forces himself to confront things that many of us shy away from—love, loss, and violence.

Starring Kokilan Maheswaran and directed by Priyanthan Sathasivam, the film was conceived about two years ago and very recently moved into postproduction. The duo behind Basement Office Pictures first met in early 2010 around the time that Kokilan’s first film $9.50 was released.

Priyanthan started pitching stories to Kokilan, and within the year they were casting for the film, rehearsing, and testing out equipment.

Once auditions were complete, in order to prep for the roles they would be taking on, the cast was asked to listen to and watch a carefully chosen collection of music and films. In spite of it being his directorial debut, Priyanthan was already proving to be very particular about executing his vision.

“I think he nailed it in perfection. Whatever he wanted, we got. There’s no point in shooting if we’re like ‘we can’t do this’ or ‘let’s change it to this’. He would always say ‘I want this, so we’re gonna do this.’ If you were a lazy director you could cut things, but he made sure he got everything.”—Kokilan

Priyanthan describes the inspiration for the film as being his interest in family and relationship dynamics, and upending what’s taken at face value. Because of this he insists that there is no one message in the film. According to Priyanthan  there is “Absolutely no positive, negative, or neutral message.” Instead he says  “…it really looks into the human condition.”

Shooting started in May of this year, and took place around Toronto, though this won’t be obvious to the audience.

“I wanted to give it an every day, every city feel.”—Priyanthan

What was anticipated to be filmed in two months ended up spanning seven. Kokilan was required to undergo two physical transformations—one involving losing 15 pounds—,mother nature  threw a couple curve balls, equipment wasn’t always available, jobs were lost,  and conflicting demands had to be dealt with.

Performing under pressure became a norm, as the cast members pushed their limits trying to get the film done.

“There was one scene—I couldn’t do it at all, I tried 35-40 times, and we did 20 takes, I was sweating, my voice was gone. I never felt like that.”—Kokilan

The film will be screened at least once in Toronto in early 2012,  but the focus of Basement Office Pictures is to get the film into festivals, locally and internationally. They stress that they are not targeting a Tamil audience in particular, but want to share a story that people have not seen, in a way that they have not experienced before.

“I want people to question what they see and what they have been through. In a lot of movies, you know what’s going to happen, you know why the character does things. There’s reasons. I made this movie so that you decide what the character does. Your decision making process affects how you view the film. You are literally deciding for the character at the end of the film.”—Priyanthan

Nive Thambithurai, Editor (Entertainment, Spotlight)

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Nivethika Thambithurai

Nivethika Thambithurai

Born in Montreal and raised in Toronto, Nive is a dreamer and writer who loves exploring how Tamil culture varies around the world in fashion, food, films and music.

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