The three cinematic expressions of 405 March 16 2020
Since 405 came out a few years back, readers have been telling us how much this short silent comic has moved them. A fellow comic maker has told us how his elderly mother was moved by it; we’ve seen people who have never read comics in their adult life rediscover that a heartbreaking story can be told through just visuals; numerous art & design students have told us how 405 has inspired them to make their own comics, like Dony Jose's Friends with Rain.
If you have read 405, then you already know that Murali and Krithika had initially conceived of this story as a short film. The logistics and demands of an extensive outdoor shoot across multiple locations in Bangalore made it an impossible proposition (primarily from a budget standpoint)… but instead of giving up, they took the kernel of the idea that became 405 and crafted a completely new story out of it… the protagonist became an elderly woman who returns to her home after a long period of absence… and like her mirror-self in the book, she is also on a search, albeit of a different heartbreaking kind.
Shot over two days in a large old house in Malleswaram (Bangalore), with a two-member cast and crew of close friends (Tina & I were part of this motley gang), this film became the first (of three) cinematic expressions of 405, and was called THE VISITOR.
A few years later, in 2018, we received a mail from Riya, then a Communicative Studies student at Mount Carmel College in Bangalore. She and her classmates discovered 405, and loved it so much that they adapted it into a short film called AYAAL - which translates from Malayalam to “He” or “That man”.
Set in Kerala, their short film took the core idea of the book, added a backstory for the titular character (the protagonist from the book) and cheekily changed the numerical identity to 404.
Soon after we discovered Ayaal, Shanawaz Nellikunnil (a friend of our friends) wrote to us to acquire the rights to adapt 405 into a short film. Shanawaz planned to direct the adaptation and it would be shot by our friend Aslam (a cinematographer based in Bombay) who had also shot The Visitor – so none of us had any second thoughts about this official adaptation of the comic.
Shanawaz, his lead actor Danaanjay Talwade and Aslam took 405 and made it their own… their short film was true to the original comic and yet, it also stood apart as a different interpretation… and it was a little uncanny to see the story that we were so familiar with unfold through a different pair of eyes.
Shanawaz decided to retain the original title, and we absolutely love the animated interpretation of the 405 title in the film.
To our surprise and immense delight, the film was selected to the prestigious Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival (it was one of the 80 films selected from 9193 submissions from across the world).
While it didn’t garner any awards at the festival, it was heartening to hear stories of people in the audience asking well-thought-of, insightful questions about the film in the post-screening Q&A… and even days later, when they encountered the team on the streets or in coffee shops and restaurants in the small French town, after which the festival takes it’s name.
It’s been 7 years since Murali first told us the story of 405 and it remains one of our favourite stories ever.