Nicholson have changed their name to Lands, and you can follow them on Facebook here.
Our favourite indie artist of the year, the Nicholson boys (Sohrab Nicholson and Rohan Ramanna) have over the last few months, released a truly evocative series of three videos that have been drenched in gorgeous cinematography and scored by their own haunting music. Following the themes of love and loss, intimacy and separation, darkness and light, and personal turmoil, each video was conceptualized and crafted at the hands of one-man production powerhouse Sachin S. Pillai, along with Angshuman Ghosh.
While the first grooved to an ambient beat, the second brought in the slight hue of hip-hop, and the latest release separates itself with a distinct post-rock sound. Still, the three tie together beautifully and seamlessly, weaving a common thread of emotion through the trilogy, while each track still maintains an individual identity. As the artist Nicholson shares about his three musical creations, “They were written around the same time, so they’re very much thematically linked. They’re all sort of about the same feeling and the same mood.”
Titled Cold Water, the final piece completing the jigsaw that is this musical trilogy, features Karan Pandit, who was at the Drama Centre London for a year, post which he started work in Bombay, working in productions like ‘Baghdad Wedding’, ‘Djinns of Eidgah’ and ‘The Interview’, for which he was awarded a META (Best Actor). He’s also done a couple of radio shows for the BBC, was a part of a Dharma Productions titled ‘Strangers in The Night’ and was a part of Sandunes’ video Slybounce. As we spoke to the man behind the protagonist in Cold Water, we asked about his experience filming this video, “I had a blast working on the project,” he said genially.
“I guess it’s just a much more constructive way to hang out. Shooting was a lot of fun really, no real challenges, just opportunities. At the risk of sounding idealistic, that’s really how we approached the shoot. Emotionally, it’s intense, but we enjoyed basking in that. The only real challenge I faced would probably be the part where I tie myself with a huge jute rope (filthy) to a chair in the water (since our entire video is shot on a beach) and there were bits where the sea was pulling me away and I couldn’t really stay put since I was tied up. Sohrab and Sachin helped me, thankfully (laughs).”
As Pillai talks about his experience, we learn, “The shooting is always the favourite part. To be able to conceptualise and create with people who are friends first and colleagues later, and make something beautiful.” Collaborating with Angshuman Ghosh, Pillai relates how important Ghosh was to this project, “I would say though, having Angshuman Ghosh come in as collaborator was a big help, as we were at a loss for ideas after our footage fiasco (where chunks of their film got accidentally corrupted). He was key in conceptualising and executing the scenes in completing the film.”
The talented lead expresses a deep and intense conflict within himself, that plagues his mind and soul to a point of desperation. With make up done by the talented Zahabia Lacewalla, the direction of this film comes from Pillai and his interpretation of Nicholson’s rhythm. A sense of darkness and even slight morbidity seeps through this video, as Nicholson attests, “Sachin likes to dabble in a little bit of darkness when it comes to experimental cinema.”
While the tone and voice of the videos mirror one another, subtle physical touches tie them together as well. For instance, the small brick house that Karan Pandit sits in, flooding it with his turmoil, also features in the first part of the trilogy. While the first part addresses ‘her’ solitude (where ‘her’ could be anyone, everyone), and the second part talks about a couple’s togetherness and separation, Cold Water addresses ‘his’ turmoil. Nicholson tells us that when he listened back to his third track, he knew it wasn’t a happy song. And as Sachin and him explored the darkness and inner conflict that many people experience, they portray that internal struggle with a sense of reality. Nicholson elaborates, “There’s a lot of violence thrown into films in general, whether its gun violence or graphic imagery. The subject matter we explore is one where people feel self-violent. No one truly understands the turmoil that a person feels and goes through that pushes them to that point, and there’s even a stigma around why people do that to themselves. Even as outsiders to this emotion, we tried to slip into that train of thought to unveil the true emotions lying beneath. We wanted to talk about something that isn’t usually shown or talked about, even though so many people experience emotions like that.”
In conversation with director Sachin S. Pillai, we gain some insight into the theme intended for this film, and how it forms a part of this trilogy. He tells us, “The video can be looked at as a mirror reflection of the first of the Nicholson films with Saba Azad. It explores the whole concept of a dark and morbid sense of loneliness, and the memories of a fleeting mind. In this way, wherever he is, we seem him alone and walking listlessly--eventually growing weaker or so to speak, moving towards his death where all he can remember is loneliness. In all his memories or dark fantasies, he eventually dies, although the method of death is different every time. The chair is a more romantic, self inflicted state of mind--where he waits at the edge of the ocean as the tide rushes in scalding his back which is juxtaposed with him swimming into a violent sea to his own death. The chair in the abandoned house, thus, takes on a role of a place with decayed and painful memories, the rope is pretty straight up so to speak. The location where I let him live is the forest, where he eventually approaches the forest--fleetingly seen--where one could say he is now out of the jungle, or perceives light or a sense of clarity, which is how one can think of the moment of death and all the supposed relief that may come with it.”
Nicholson will be performing at Pune’s NH7 on December 6, so make sure you catch his amazing soundscapes there.