Published: 05th January 2021
Thirty-year-old National Award-winning director Ramana Dumpala is all about making your voice heard and scripting stories with depth
Ramana Dumpala's National Award-winning film Glow Worm in a Jungle is about Hema Sane, a retired Botany professor, and her life sans electricity. The upcoming director tells us what he is doing next
When Ramana Dumpala became the first Telugu filmmaker to win a National Award in the Non-Fiction category for his film Glow Worm in a Jungle, much praise came his way. It wouldn't be wrong to assume that a few, if not many, producers came knocking at his door too. But the reality was far from it. "I used to speak to a few producers in the Telugu film industry and even they stopped talking to me. They needed us to get money, not festivals or awards," says the 30-year-old. And that, my folks, is the sorry state of affairs in many film industries. But you see, Ramana is a director with his own voice and he wants to make that voice heard. On his own terms. But where did this confidence come from? From his own convictions mostly, which were validated when he travelled with his award-winning film to various countries. "I understood that films had to have a universal language. Now, when I work on a film, I think if a Siberian or a Ukrainian would relate to it," he reveals.
Receiving the National Award | (Pic: Ramana Dumpala)
Ramana's script was marinating at Poitiers, a script development lab in France, which by the way, was the only script from India, and came back in May 2020. It's a low-budget movie, needs about `2 crore and Ramana is in talks with a few producers and is considering going down the crowdfunding route as well. The FTII alumni says, "Even before joining FTII, the Telugu films I was watching were doing nothing for me, I wasn't able to connect. There was a superficial quality about them. It was like we were living in a dreamland, no one was narrating personal stories. There were 100 filmmakers doing the same thing, I did not want to be 101."
Ramana has travelled to Russia, Hong Kong, Italy and other countries to showcase his film
The Srikakulam-born doesn't have a problem with escapism, but how ethically are they trying to portray the character is the issue. "For example, the LGBTQIA+ character is almost always the comedy track of the film. That is not escapism, that is degradation," he says vehemently. He also points out the 'no is yes' female trope that has come under fire several times yet it manifests in real-life situations in dangerous forms. OTT platforms were a thing of hope four to five years back, but even they have reached their saturation level now, he feels. "Hopefully, with the new year, we will have new and better films to relish," he says.
Working still | (Pic: Ramana Dumpala)
Currently, helping a friend with a movie in Nalgonda, Ramana's next is about one night on a local train, depicting a lot of our train culture as well. And he wants to tell the story without any compromises. "People have been waiting for eight to ten years to make just one film. They lasted because they believe in their project. Take, for example, the Iranian film director who has been placed on house arrest and yet, he continues to make films. Nothing will stop you if you want to make films," he says.
Films that have Ramana's heart:
- The Mourning Forest (2007): A Japanese film in which a nurse, who has lost his child, and her patient venture into a forest and lose their way
- Wild Pear Tree (2018): A Turkish drama about a budding writer and his relationship with his father
- Talking About Trees (2019): Four older Sudanese filmmakers attempt to revive an old cinema
- Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019): What ensues when a painter is obliged to paint a wedding portrait of a bride-to-be
For more on him, check out facebook.com/ramana.dumpala