On my Quora post, over and over again, the Kannada commenters listed Lucia by Pawan Kumar as a recommended film. I watched the trailer here and the film is a total mind f*ck kind of trip. Watch the trailer, and you’ll get a taste of what I mean!
First, the way the film got made is totally interesting on its own It was crowdfunded! One of the production thingies at the beginning is “Audience” films, and then they show a grid of like 100 youtube videos of people holding signs. 110 people contributed to make the film, for like $70,000. It won the audience award at the London Indian film festival, where it premiered, and was short listed for the Oscars film from India.
YES, it’s that good!!
It’s a micro-budget film, but one of those indie feeling films where they were super creative and did a LOT with very little. It would totally fit in at Sundance.
So, what’s it about? Lucia is the name of the Lucid dream drug. The movie starts with policemen investigating why a certain patient is in a coma — and news TV debates whether euthanasia should be allowed.
The movie is very non-linear. We flash from color scenes of Nikki, a “torch-shiner” or usher in a tiny little theater in Bangalore, who lives in a shack with 4 other guys. He’s an insomniac, and a local drug-peddler gives him a sleeping pill, Lucia, that will give him dreams so real, he’ll feel that he lived them. But if he stops taking the pills, the dreams become nightmares.
The dreams are in black and white, and suddenly Nikki is Nikhil, a movie star! It’s like Wizard of Oz in reverse, as all the people in his humble life are in the movie star life, which is black and white. His uncle the little theater owner, is now his trusted manager. The pizza parlor waitress girl he’s crushing on as Nikki, is his item number girl in the movie he’s filming.
Lots of meta commentary on the value of the little tiny one screen theaters. And life as a movie star in India, etc.
The main actor, Sathish Ninasam, who plays Nikki/Nikhil is amazing. He is this humble sweet poor schlub Nikki, who doesn’t even think he deserves a cute pizza parlor girl and then he has this amazing confident movie star air as Nikhil. The main actress who plays the pizza parlor girl and the item number girl, the love interest in both worlds, is pretty good. I especially love her as the spunky pizza parlor girl. She tries to get Nikki to learn English and get a job at a multiplex, which leads to some very humorous scenes.
The film has sweetness, and a very filmi romance while also being a near Matrix level psychological — which-world-is-real kind of sci-fi plot. This is an Indian film where the script is truly king. It is quite the story — certainly not like anything else in Indian film, and yet, with the dual role, so very filmi at the same time!
I now feel like I have to go back and thank each of those people who recommended this on the Quora post. So good and so interesting! I really enjoyed the roller coaster ride. The director’s next film, U-Turn, is evidently about to come out. Lucia got rave tweets from Irrfan Khan and Anurag Kashyap tweeted “My birthday gift to myself would be lucia…”
Highly recommend this quirky strange wonderful Kannada film. 4 1/2 stars out of 5.