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The Blueberry Hunt

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Some fans are raving about it while the critics are ranting, but there’s no ignoring The Blueberry Hunt. Directed by Anup Kurian and starring Naseeruddin Shah, the film is a story of a recluse—living, managing and protecting a marijuana plantation in the foothills of Kerala. Although the character possesses inherent depth, a lot is left to the imagination as no significant information is revealed about the dreadlocked Colonel’s past. Produced with a low budget, the film released after five years of its making. Meanwhile, it extended to a dark graphic novel on social media to keep the fans engaged. Kurian shares more about his own journey and that of the film.

What made you switch from designing software to directing movies?
I never did a switch. Some interviewer found out I write software and made me a software engineer. And it stays. I have taken up other jobs too. For example, cake seller. It so happens software programming pays lot more than selling cakes. So I do that more often. To create stories which can be made into unique films you need life experiences. I am guessing the non-cinema world existence provides me with such experiences. 

How have you evolved as a filmmaker from Manasarovar (2004) to The Blueberry Hunt?
If you were asking this question a few years back, I would not be able to objectively analyse. I realise I have five or six stories only I can tell. These are explorations into certain themes which are fascinating. When they become cinema, they are unique, though they can be good or bad. In narrative style, Manasarovar had a disjointed structure. The Blueberry Hunt is linear. Both stories take place in five days. There are shots and scenes occurring at the same place in both the films. 

While shooting Manasarovar, all we had was a camera, five or six people, actors, a goat, a parrot and one elephant. In The Blueberry Hunt, it's a slightly better camera, few more actors, two elephants, one cow, and a big handsome dog. We had two rabbits too. But they could not be included. I am sure somebody ate them after the shoot. When I wrote the screenplay, I had no idea how to end the films. So it was for the Director to find an ending. In Manasarovar, it was an experience in Dharamsala which became the ending. In The Blueberry Hunt we have a Nagaland-based group, Cultural Vibrants, playing an important part there. 

Completed in 2011, the film is set to release this year. What was the reason for a five-year gap?
Liquidity crisis a.k.a broke. I needed a basic minimum amount of money to plan a campaign and a theatrical release. It took four years to make that money. 
 
Did the film create a sense of nostalgia for you, as it was shot in Vagamon?
The film was shot in the property belonging to my parents. They bought this 25 acre estate for peanuts in the mid-80s. So the whole family spent a lot of time there. I always wanted to make a film where I can show the hero hiding stuff in the cave, the hero running into the stream, jumping on assassins from the top of a rock etc. The story happened to be The Blueberry Hunt. The hero happens to be the one and only Naseeruddin Shah. 

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