8 min read

Interview With Director Kalyan Mantri

Anubhav Chakraborty

June 10, 2022 8 min read

Movie : The Resilient Larsons 

Director : Kalyan Mantri


Sir, what according to you make stories one of the most significant components of social life? Why do you think they are important and why must they be told? 

Stories must be told. There is no alternative to this. In this connected world and fast moving information, I believe it is important for every person’s story to be told because they hold something that is important and informative which could help the world to heal and become more resilient and inspired. We all as human beings tend to read or watch successful stories. But, I believe we are being blindsided to many more in this process.

Do you think cinema plays the role of a profound healer? A movie like The Resilient Larsons would heal the soul of a lost person, it would induce in him a certain amount of hope.

Stories like The Resilient Larsons give hope and strength to the audience who are lost. Cinema has always had a deep impact on the audience. It is one of those mediums which has a direct contact with human emotions. I strongly believe no single person would leave the auditorium without getting inspired after watching a movie. It could be good or bad. When we know this fact, every filmmaker should make sure that their movie does not have a negative impact. Resilient Larsons is a story that talks about the importance of self confidence, navigating through troubles and finding hope. These are very common for any person. Hence I strongly believe everyone would find themselves in the characters.


We would like you to say something about the commendable performances delivered by the leads. What were the challenges that they had to overcome? 

Yes, I was very confident in my mind from the beginning that Eddie (David), Dani (Laura) would give their best. There are many challenges we faced as a team. It is an all new experience for me. They both are very cooperative and make sure that we are doing everything the right way. Remember, I am a person who can hear, see, talk, I write a story in my way. Both Eddie and Dani made sure I understood deaf culture and not made any mistakes. On location, communication was never a problem. I learned some sign language to communicate a little bit on my own. But, yes, we had great interpreters, Brooke Cordova and Zack all the time during filming. In the monologue scene which was almost 7 minutes in length I was awestruck with their performance. That was the only scene where I was very nervous. It has many lines for both David and Laura. But, they proved me wrong. When I was filming that particular scene I was very emotional. At that moment I knew this was going to be something special.


What would be your favourite movie and book of all time? At any point of time were you inspired by a certain author or a director? 

I always like the works of Roland Emmerich and Ron Howard. Their way of perfect blend of emotion and action is topnotch. I have no idea how many times I watched “The Independence Day” and “Apollo 13”. I personally don’t have a favourite book. I usually read any book that interests me.


Can you comment and give us your personal take on the presence of a number of themes in your movie like a bright and defiant spirit in individuals to never give up or lose hope , the resilience shown by them against a world of impediments , the courage and perseverance projected by them around dire circumstances?

When I started writing this story all I had was an idea. A very small thought. The story reflects my views towards how we, as a society, become blindsided to an entire community? As a society we evolved so much in the past century. But, I feel we have much more to do. First we should all stop showing sympathy towards any special needs individual. They don’t expect that from anybody. We should all treat them as normal and yet be helpful to them. Helping them, that is because we are living in a society which was made for, by, and to the people with eyesight, hearing, and speech.

The Resilient Larsons talks about this. How David and Laura navigate through life facing all the challenges? If you observe, in the movie everyone tries to communicate with them by using basic signs except two important services. The Law enforcement officer and the doctor. These are two major services in the society and yet they don’t put any effort to make learning basic sign language a must. How hard is that? Therefore, I had to blendin many themes in this movie inorder to convey my message. Never lose hope, your life keeps throwing challenges at you. That’s its nature. Face them. Stay on top of your goals, you’ll succeed one day. All these characteristics you will see in the characters in this movie.


How much do you think a movie like The Resilient Larsons should motivate an individual in desperate need of some cheering up ? 

If I could impact one viewer of mine, I consider I was successful in my efforts. I believe in one step at a time. We all watch action movies, high visual effects movies like Avatar. But, what do you remember when you are leaving the auditorium? Emotion. Because we all cry the same, we all laugh the same way, we all show empathy the same way. Despite different cultures, demographics, regions, and religions, emotions are the same for any living being. Movies like The Resilient Larsons give that much needed hope in life. It motivates people to never lose hope at what you are doing.

What is your general opinion on empathy and its profuse lack of it today, in a world of indifference and cynicism? 

Empathy in humans still exists. Let’s put it this way. But, the circumstances we show empathy changed. We started showing empathy on a selective basis. As humans we stopped seeing ourselves in someone else’s situation because we are so busy thinking of our own problems. A person driving an economy car worries about how to buy a luxury car. A person who has food on the table wants more varieties. We stopped differentiating between a need and a want. The definition of life has changed. Thinking about our private issues when we are in public and messing up our lives. This I called as, Selective empathy. The moment we all understand that socitical borders are man made and soon or later they will disappear, this world will be the happiest place.

How satisfied were you with the technical aspects of the movie? 

I must say I’m very much satisfied. I made sure we had a script consultant to make sure that I’m politically correct. We had an ASL Consultant on the location to oversee the sign language aspects. Since I’m the cinematographer, editor, and colorist, I knew what I needed (laughs). My composer is my biggest plus. She is very patient with me and gave everything I asked for. I can confidently say that I irritated her to the core. We shot this movie entirely in a studio in Los Angeles. We had a limited time of three days to wrap up the filming part. We shot this entire project in three days. So you can understand how we must be running around. Overall, I’m more than happy and satisfied.


Do you think certain components of a film like the colours on the screen, the background score, play the role of an invisible character? Would it be true for all the movies made across the globe? 

Music plays a vital role in a movie. I strongly believe when a writer starts writing a story they must write with music. I made sure I don’t have music in the monologue scene and total silence because I want the audience to feel the pain and the agony in Laura and David’s movements. Having some background score in scenes like that may make the audience focus more on the music, I want everyone to feel the pain of the characters. Color of the movie sets the mood of the movie. Human brains can relate to the mood based on the colors. I strongly say music and color are two characters which drives the story towards the desired outcome.


Where do you see cinema going after the humongous acclaim enjoyed by the movie Coda? Have people finally realised that a certain kind of story must be told as well?  

CODA gave hope to many actors. As I said earlier, we are blindsided towards an entire community. There are many stories to be told in deaf community. I believe, audience is willing to learn and educate themselves. As filmmakers we must take the step. I see cinema is evolving so much these days and aspiring filmmakers like myself are willing to take the risk to tell the stories which are awaiting their turn.

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