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Mike Muthu on adapting ‘The Burglar’s Christmas’

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Theatre director Mike Muthu on adapting the quick story for a movie format, and why he feels digital performs defeat the aim of theatre

For the previous 20 years, veteran theatreperson Michael (Mike) Muthu has been directing performs to lift funds for Mellow Circle’s Prathyasha, a house for HIV optimistic youngsters.

If not for the pandemic, this may have been Mike’s 21st play for them. His plan was to adapt Willa Cather’s quick story, The Burglar’s Christmas, and he toyed with the thought of constructing it right into a film on a price range of a daily theatre manufacturing. It appeared logical and the challenge was greenlit, leading to a 90-minute film whose manufacturing started final month and was wrapped in beneath 11 days (“We were always in guerrilla mode.”)

Mike was drawn to Cather’s story due to its premise, notably the ending. While adapting it for the display screen, nonetheless, he weaved in a backstory. “I worked on what leads up to the situation the characters find themselves in,” says Mike over telephone, including that the film is minimize between two timelines and is informed in a sequence of flashbacks.

The Burglar’s Christmas is Mike’s fourth movie as a director. The catch to adapting a brief story or a play for a movie format is to concentrate on the language the medium instructions, he says. “Theatre is dialogue-heavy and has long scenes. There are probably five to 12 scenes at the most for a play. But in a movie, there are a lot more scenes. The writing and thinking process are completely different for these two,” he provides.

What is misplaced in translation for the massive display screen is gained from the language of cinema. “In movies, I have the luxury of close-ups and taking the viewers to actual locations. But theatre is live experience and is in the moment. That is something you could never get. That is why I feel theatre is still a powerful medium, for drama at least,” says Mike.

Mike shouldn’t be a lot a fan of digital performs. In reality, he dismisses it calling them “rubbish” — “It defeats both purposes; of doing something live and there is no language to it. Virtual readings are fine, but plays…I’ve found them to be an utter failure.”

Mike Muthu on adapting ‘The Burglar’s Christmas’

He says changing a play right into a film is an choice for theatre practitioners to discover sooner or later. He has shot one other movie referred to as Bina Rai, based mostly on the play An Inspector Calls. “It’s a period film set in post-Independent India. If the pandemic continues and if we are forced to not perform, I think this is the best way to go forward,” he says.

Although Mike Muthu has been in theatre for over 25 years, cinema has all the time fascinated him. Many theatrepersons have transitioned into cinema recently, and Mike feels the proportion will solely enhance additional.

“Theatre has its own charm, yes. But if I direct a play, it would be seen by what 1,000 people? On the other hand, if I make a movie and put it on YouTube, you hit a million views or at least hope you hit that number,” he says, including, “Filmmaking has become much easier now and is not as expensive as it used to be. It’s a medium that attracts a swarm of people.”

So, what’s stopping him from making a mainstream movie? “The budget,” he says with fun, “I have seven finished scripts, but my budgets are on the heavier side. I just stepped into the film world so I’m finding my way through it. The best way is to experiment with small budget films, which is what I’m doing.”

The Burglar’s Christmas might be screened at The Magic Lantern preview theatre on December 20. For tickets, name: 9944224848.


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