When AR Rahman directs a movie, you know it will be a unique experience. Le Musk, his first directorial venture, is just that. A virtual reality film, Le Musk uses smell for an enhanced immersive experience. But why an olfactory experience when one would obviously expect a musical from Rahman’s debut venture as a director? “It all began with an informal chat I was having with my wife, who is very fond of perfumes. She suggested that I should make a movie on smell, and somehow the idea took tangible shape.”
But why VR? “I have ADD (attention deficit disorder),” reveals Rahman, adding that a short format like VR was just apt for him. Le Musk will be a 10-minute film, with a prelude of three minutes that was showcased at the ‘NAB’, Las Vegas, as part of the Intel-Keynote on April 24. In India, it has been launched in collaboration with PVR Cinemas, which has a newly-opened VR lounge in Noida. The film will also be made available on Samsung smartphones.
Rahman says he got a wonderful team full of international artistes and technicians for the film. The olfactory element will be provided by Feelies, a company run by Grace Boyle. Her London-based company has developed technology that will intermittently disperse scent during the film. Incidentally, Grace is the daughter of Hollywood director Danny Boyle, who has worked with Rahman on two films, Slumdog Millionaire and 127 Hours. Rahman won two Oscars for his score in Slumdog Millionaire and the song Jai Ho from the film.
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However, for Le Musk, Rahman is the writer, director and producer. The story of the film revolves around an heiress for whom the smell of musk is a trail that runs from her childhood to adulthood. How she reacts after coming face to face with the ghosts of her past is the storyline. Shot in Rome, the film stars Nora Arnezeder, Guy Burnet, Munirih Jahanpour and Mariam Zohrabyan in lead roles.
So is this a gateway for more endeavours as a director for Rahman? He tells us he is already working on an audio-visual presentation that will have an Indian theme. Considering his ‘ADD’, that, too, will be in VR format. Perhaps for the same reason he dismisses the idea of a full-length feature film, saying that’s too tedious for him.
Rahman has not thought of exploiting the film commercially, but says his team is working out the financials with the partners the film will be made available to. For him, it has entirely been a creative experience.