August 6th, 2015
Siddharth Menon is the talented lead actor of Time Machine. He brings with him a face bursting with freshness and energy and still manages to convey deep emotions. We caught up with him to talk about Time Machine, his Cannes journey and acting on a theater stage versus acting in a film.
Hi Siddharth! Can you tell us about your journey as actor.
Well my first film was a film called PEDDLERS (Screened at 2012 International Critics Week at Cannes Film Festival) ,directed by Vasan Bala and produced by Guneet Monga and Anurag Kashyap. I was the lead in the film and it went to the Cannes film festival and Toronto in 2012. We also did have an international release, but unfortunately the film hasn't yet released in India. The experience at Cannes was something which was like a dream..the film and my performance were received very well and it was really overwhelming. It felt like the start of something new.
I also have my own theatre company which I started with my college mates in Pune called Natak Company. I have done 6 marathi films. I also have an independent English language film titled LOEV which is in post production.
How did Time Machine happen?
Well Arati called me one fine day. At that time, she was directing this music video for the band Indian Ocean and told me that she was hearing about me and my work in Peddlers and hoped to collaborate. A few months later she called me for TIME MACHINE. She told me the story, we met in a cafe and I jumped and I said yes. It was really as simple as that.
You play a shy school boy who happens to be a mad scientist at home. He has a body language and personality that is very different from yours. How did you prepare for the film?
Me and Arati worked on the character a lot. I would keep reading the script and she kept telling me more and more about Chetan. We would have extensive discussions on what his past was, what he feels about things in general, how he sees things. We also improvised a lot of scenes which were not a part of the film..like scenes from his daily life. I slowly started carrying chetan with me everywhere, and wherever I went and whatever I did, I always asked my self: "How would chetan feel? What would he do?" As far as the body language was concerned, I always feel that the body language and tone of a character defines him or her and since he's aloof from the world and sort of has this insecurity that nobody will accept him he would be kind of closed. And I just developed that.
There is a lot of stop-motion, and weird animation in the film. That must have been fun?
Oh yes that was really good fun. Animation is something that I have always wanted to do. I have watched a lot of animated film since when i was a child and I think its safe to say that whatever little I know about acting has come from those Disney films. Also Zenish and Arati had such a raw but beautiful vision for this film where animation was concerned. I was excited like a little kid..and they it turned out 100 times better than what they described. It was my first time working on a green screen too. Which was amazing because of the amazing things I had to do- travel in space etc. Stop motion was really good fun too. Its a slow process..but i think I knew how it would turn out when i was shooting it. Some things are simple to do. Time consuming yes..but simple and I think those are the things that are the most amazing!!
Chetan’s Time Machine meant very different things for many people in his life. For him it was a part of his childhood he was leaving behind, for Mishti, it meant perfect innocence, and for the older Chetan, it was the past he left behind. What did the Time Machine mean for you?
I think for me the Time Machine means acceptance. If you really honestly accept what you are at that given point in your life only then can we move ahead to do greater and bigger things and improve ourselves and we can leave the past mistakes behind. Thats very important. We cant delete our past, we have to accept it. And in order to do that we have to accept our present selves..
Yes it does change as per medium however for me it has become very subconscious. The technicalities change and your mind and body automatically change and adapt to fit the requirement of the medium. Actually, stepping back, I think the thing you need to be really conscious about is the genre of the story and the character. That's because regardless of the medium, every story requires you to mould your character in a different way. And I pay attention to that more than the medium itself. For example if TIME MACHINE was a play, I would approach the character in the same way, only while performing my volume would be higher than in film. But as I said that happens automatically on stage, similarly I have done plays which required me to be really subtle, more subtle than how I have acted in some of my films.
What did you take away from this film? And what did you leave behind in the film?
I think a lot and invest in every project, I give a lot of energy to it. I am spiritual and I believe in energy, I do whatever I can, to fuel the film with good positive energy. The film takes it in, processes it and just shoots it back at you with double the positivity regardless of how big or small the film becomes. Giving that energy to the film drained me out mentally and physically and helped me regenerate as a more effective contributor. The film healed me, it made me stronger and more positive.
TIME MACHINE is online at ShortFilmWindow.com and can be viewed here.