A vintage bottle of Johnnie Walker, the ghost of a long-dead grandfather, and three friends looking for booze — Bottle Lockdown, a short film directed by actor Divyadarsan is a caper or as he calls it, the “perfect antidote for lockdown-induced gloom.” Slightly longer than most shorts made during the lockdown, the 26-odd minutes-long film was uploaded on YouTube on July 11, and has been viewed more than 33,000 times.
“A lot of creative work made during the lockdown tends to be serious, which can’t be helped since the situation is what it is. I wanted to make something light-hearted. Quite frankly, I didn’t intend to release it. But when we, the team behind it, liked the end product, we released it,” says the actor/producer and now, director. The action revolves around three friends, the lengths they go for a bottle of alcohol and what happens to one of them as a result.
The lockdown led Divyadarsan to explore the filmmaker in him. The story was inspired by a portrait of an old man his wife Ashwathy, drew. That picture also appears in the film as that of the deceased grandfather, whose ghost ‘possesses’ one of the trio. “The idea germinated there, I wrote the story and got my mother [Sandhya Rajendran], after much pestering, to write the screenplay and dialogues,” he says.
The film was shot entirely in Thrissur, in the vicinity of his house, over two days. The actors — Sreejith Ravi, Rayjan, Jaise Jose and others — were also in the city at the time. Divyadarsan also acts in the film, as one of the three friends, who steals a bottle of whisky. The 32-year-old has acted in Malayalam films Lord Livingston 7000 Kandi, Karnavar and Kootathil Oraal.
The casting coup however is him getting his maternal grandmother, veteran actor Vijayakumari Madhavan, to act as his character’s grandmother. “Since she is based in Kollam, I could go there only after the restrictions were somewhat eased, to record her part. She was game for it — she transforms when she is in front of the camera. She forgets everything else,” he says. Not only his grandmother, mother and wife, his father (actor EA Rajendran) and maternal uncle (actor Mukesh) too were involved in the project. While Rajendran does the opening narration, the closing monologue is by Mukesh.
Does he see himself directing a feature film once the lockdown is lifted? “Not yet, possibly some time in the future. I need so much more experience and being a director is not easy. It is so much work from the word ‘go’ till the release of the film. I am not ready for it yet!”