Malayalam filmmaker Lijo Jose Pellissery is one of the most original and exciting filmmaker working in India right now. In the recent years, Lijo has succeeded in raising his game by leaps and bounds to produce some of the best films seen in Indian cinema over the last decade. The dream run started with Angamaly Diaries, his 2017 Malayalam-language crime drama film, which proved to be a major critical and commercial success. The story follows Vincent Pepe who wants to be a powerful leader of a righteous gang that would rule the town of Angamaly. The film features a breathtaking 11-minute-long single take in the climax that features around 1,000 artists.
Ee.Ma.Yau, his 2018 Malayalamlanguage satire, revolves around the death and funeral of an older man from the Roman Catholic community in a coastal village. The film won the Best Director and Best Actor awards at the 49th International Film Festival of India. Jallikattu, his 2019 Malayalam-language action film, is set in a remote village where a buffalo escapes slaughter and triggers an orgy of violence involving the beast and the villagers. Lijo Jose Pellissery received the IFFI Silver Peacock Award for Best Director at the 50th International Film Festival of India.
Lijo’s upcoming film Churuli, a sci-fi thriller set in a tiny, nondescript village nested in a lush, impenetrable forest, was all set to premiere at film festivals but the ongoing pandemic thwarted his plans. “A film like Churuli, just like Christopher Nolan’s Tenet, can only be complete as an experience in the cinemas. In the context of the pandemic, I thought of many options like online release, prop up film tents and modular cinemas seating limited to 20 people. As social distancing is a need of the time, the social movie going experience was no more an option along with mounting legal barriers, and an online release would not do justice to the art,” reveals Lijo.
This pushed him to think of some innovative solution. “This is when an idea of a simple device struck me, which I thought, can be a solution to this problem of providing a cinema hall experience. The irony in the situation is that we have all the infrastructure ready right before us, yet we never put them together. The idea is to bridge the gap between the creator and viewer by introducing matchbox cinema headset into the equation. This is basically a VR headset which can deliver a whole new movie going experience at par or even sometimes better than that of going to a theatre. The Match Box headset is essentially a VR monitor to your phone,” explains Lijo.
Lijo proposes a unique approach to create accessibility of VR gears to all. “While cheaper ones bought more problems, the ones with quality weren’t affordable for all. This prompted the need for a distribution system, much like our old movie libraries. How do we implement this? Imagine an additional device on the library rack, a VR Headset. Synonymous to a book library providing the reader with the reading experience, VR facilitates cinema hall experience to viewers. You can implement this immediately because it is an enhancement of a personal experience, just like buying a brand new headphones. I am deeply concerned with the release of films on online platforms when a simple idea may revolutionise the industry,” adds Lijo who is ready with the complete implementation model and is close to the implementation of his film in a VR platform by partnering with companies like HTC, Sony and Oculus.
Though his innovative solution, which he has devised after brainstorming with some of the best creative minds in the country such as A.R. Rahman and Anurag Kashyap, Lijo hopes to start a conversation with fellow artists that can help pave the way for the future.