It’s almost 8:00 pm on a busy weekday when I call up Visvak Ponnavolu, an under-graduate student from Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communication. He’s also the founder of Viman Talkies.
Viman Talkies is all about independent film screenings at Rs. 50 for a ticket. All proceeds go to the filmmaker and in turn, you are introduced you to some good cinema. Very simple and very interesting!
Juggling between work and running errands all over town, it clearly hasn’t been a good day for me. The enthusiasm in his “Hello” comes across as a breath of fresh air. I learn that he too has had a very busy day at college, and I immediately feel bad for feeling so grumpy. An energetic young boy, Visvak immediately changes the mood, and I let down my guard and talk to him like I’ve known him for a long time.
We begin on a formal, friendly note. And of course we get to the point straight away. “Viman Talkies is an initiative that supports Indie Cinema. The idea came to me a few months ago on my semester break when I was watching Aniket Dasgupta & Swathi Sethumadhavan’s documentary titled The Other Way. This was about an independent filmmaker, Sandeep Mohan, traveling all over India, screening his movie Hola Venky to whoever wanted to watch it. I realized we had some really nice indie movies and filmmakers in the country, but it’s the distribution angle that was weak. There was no way for these film makers to recover their costs because the movies weren’t reaching the audience. Being passionate about films, I thought I should do my bit. And that’s how Viman Talkies was born” I’m writing all this down, trying not to get too intimidated by a 22 year old student who seems to have a firm head on his shoulders.
Quizzing him on his team and its strengths he quips, “Honestly, till about last week we were 6 of us. We realized the workload was a lot, and decided to conduct a recruitment drive. Now there are too many of us to count. And that’s a good thing, because now everything is sorted out into different departments- logistics, social media, AV, the works.” Did they face any tough situations till now? “Oh not yet, it’s been fairly simple. It’s a win-win situation for everybody here. No one’s complaining!”
And how do they plan to promote Viman Talkies? “Right now, we’re going heavy on social media and putting up posters around college. That’s enough for now.” I get a little inquisitive and ask him of his future plans as far as Viman Talkies is concerned. “We’ll take it as it comes. This isn’t a business venture; I don’t want money out of it. We are here to support indie cinema. Let’s see where it goes from here. We plan to hand it over to the juniors. Seeing their response, we are pretty confident Viman Talkies will become a legend of it’s own. We are here to watch good movies and help people watch good movies they’d otherwise miss in the multiplexes for the simple reason that either they are never screened, or are screened at odd times without adequate promotion.”
If there’s one thing that stands out about Visvak, it’s his humble nature. He didn’t refer to Viman Talkies as his project, there was always a “we”. At one point he also told me it’s okay if I didn’t mention his name, as long as Viman Talkies and his team were covered.
I ask him if he’d like to say anything in particular to everyone who’s reading this. “Never be too sure of anything. There is nothing in the world that cannot be questioned” This coming from one who is all of 22!
I am positively motivated by this point. If you’re a film enthusiast who’s looking out for some good movies, I suggest you head over Viman Talkies’ Facebook page for regular updates!