Synopsis

An American family, Jon, Clara, and their son Kris, live with Parvathi, Nagarajan and their daughter Valli, inside a Music and Dance School in Tamilnadu, India. Jon is a Musician, deeply inspired by Indian Classical Music. Kris and Valli are inseparable, learning everything from nature and from their parents. When Clara begins to be jealous of Parvathi’s influence over Jon and Kris, she begins to distance herself, eventually parting from Jon and leaving with Kris. Jon is heart broken, finding solace only in his music.

Twelve years later, Kris returns as a young dancer, with a burning need to reconnect with his father, and to heal himself of a deep trauma. Valli, his childhood companion, is now a beautiful and gifted dancer. Though resentful of Parvathi and Nagarajan, for what he perceives as their role in his parents separation, Kris discovers in Valli’s company, a truth that brings him consolation, as well as a sense of tremendous betrayal. The scene of Parvathi’s dance in the moonlight becomes a sensual masterpiece, as the camera, prepared for surprise, films her dancing with the greatest spontaneity.

His Father’s Voice Trailer

MAIN CAST

Supporting Cast

PRODUCER’S STATEMENT

I am delighted to co-produce this beautiful film, His Father’s Voice! This film is the fulfilment of a promise, from a father to his son, of a bond beyond boundaries, and of a love that triumphs. It is rare to see such attention to detail, with outstanding screenplay, a tailor made cast, deeply engaging music and dance, a gorgeous palette of colors, engaging cinematography, and more. I see it as a compelling investment with broad appeal, pulling the heart strings across cultures and time zones. It gives me faith, that all that we endure in our lives, must lead eventually to a greater wellbeing, for ourselves and for the world.
- Shankar Kiru

CREW

MUSICIANS

DIRECTOR’S STATEMENT

In the simplest of lives events and in all the troubles and problems we face, is the opportunity to grow, and to find healing. Circumstances that life brings, of forced separation from our loved ones, fuel our own growth, and brings us gifts, that only we can give ourselves. The breaking of the cocoon is essential for the strength of a butterfly’s wings. This journey back can be hard, with plenty of inner demons to overcome. And yet, it is worthwhile, because upon it, we learn to forgive, and to discover what it is, to truly love. In the renewed embrace of new beginnings, we recognize that where there is love, there is no such thing as separation. In all this time, and despite the distances, we have always been together.

The Director Speaks

It doesn’t matter how long you wait before you make that film. A point in time comes when the screenplay that you have been working on, finds its own energy, to move forwards, in its quest to becoming a film. I’ve waited until that moment arrived, and am glad for it. And then, it was not about others - whether they found my script exciting, or, interesting enough. Quite often, they didn’t. But the story was begging to be told. It was a live flame burning inside me. Or, let’s say it had the flow of an irresistible river, where every emotion, of every character, was present. And something in you is aware, of the least pebble on that river bed. It is a kind of oneness with what one has written. The screenplay on my set, became merely a point of reference, for my crew. I didn’t need it.

Today, when we have just finished the film, I feel the joy of fulfilment, of having made a film that we can be proud of. A film that we never grow tired of watching, again and again. It is a joy that we are looking forward to share, with the rest of the world.

I worked with people who had the skill set of the characters they portrayed. It was more a call to be who they were already, than to act, and to become something else. Even the children are very close to the characters they embody, at home in nature, and in their element, climbing trees, or, playing in the mud pond. And then, what are the chances of finding a real American singer who, in more ways than one, is utterly like the character I am looking to cast, in my own neighbourhood?

We have put together an extraordinary family - an International community, all in itself!

Jeremy Roske, who plays Jon, is American. Spiritually and musically inspired by India, he was the very man I was looking for.

Julia Koch, who plays Clara, is Swiss-German. But because of her love for India, she exudes a palpable Indianness, together with an emotional range, that makes her performance so memorable.

Tzur Yardeni and Yam Yardeni, who play the seven year old and the twelve year old Kris respectively, are both from Israel. They are brothers, encouraged by their parents, to be all they can be, remarkably strong, independent and free.

Asha Bhola, who plays the girl Valli is from Gujarat. She is a gifted dancer, with the ability to become the character she plays. Always focused on set, despite the sometimes late hours, and always responsive, she was an inspiration for everyone else!

Sadana Sadassivam, who plays the child Valli, is Tamil. All she needs to do is smile, for you not to look elsewhere! She lives in Auroville and is a joy to be with, for her constant banter!

Srimoyi Rosegger, who plays Clara’s mother Emily, is Bengali. She is a gifted Odissi dancer, naturally gentle and generous, and yet gifted, to play roles that require her to be otherwise.

Alois Otto, who plays Clara’s father Joshua, is Austrian. He is a most remarkable stage actor, with an extraordinary sense of timing! A deeply spiritual man, he is Srimoyi’s partner, in real life as well.

Christopher Gurusamy, who plays Kris, is half British, half Tamil, and Australian! It is an especially energising experience to watch him dance. He is a perfectionist, seeking an in-depth understanding of his character, and as a result, helping in the evolution of the screenplay itself.

Sudharma Vaithiyanathan, who plays Valli, draws her ancestry from both Kerala and Tamilnadu. She is a gifted Bharatanatyam dancer, and a sheer delight to watch, both on stage, and on screen! A natural, restrained, and nuanced performer, she is a real find!

P T Narendran who plays Valli’s father Nagarajan, hails from Anamangad, in Kerala. He has spent his life in dance, teaching at Kalakshetra, after graduating from there, and since then, becoming one of the most sought after Gurus, with students all over the world. A most natural actor, with a wonderful voice and screen presence.

Ashwini Pratap Pawar, who plays Parvathi, is from Maharashtra. It is she who inspired the role of Parvathi, because of who she is, in real life. A free spirited Dancer and Artist, she entrances you, with the lyrical quality of her dance, the Artistry of her paintings, and the detailing of her personal adornment. She reveals herself, to be a deeply engaging and committed actor, as well.

Supporting Cast


Bragha Bessell and C K Balagopalan are Gurus, legends in their own right, well known to the students of Bharatanatyam. Both embody the pathos of separation from Sita, whom they love deeply, as Kausalya and as Janaka, respectively.

I’ve always enjoyed listening to CB Ramkumar, because of his voice! He is an old friend and classmate who went into business and created the very first eco resort in India. Sabapathy, the character he plays, must keep an eye out for business, and make sure that our Artists stay popular, despite their sometimes unorthodox views.

Parvathy Menon, Ramaa Venugopalan and Sreeganga are real life Goddesses! No kidding! They appeared quite as miraculously, to be part of the song that celebrates the pregnant Sita. Parvathy and Ramaa are both Teachers and Performers of Bharatanatyam. Sreeganga is a classical singer.

We couldn’t have asked for a better Vishwa than Anand Satheendran, an Actor and Dancer, living right in our neighbourhood. We needed someone of his calibre, to work with Sudharma and with Christopher.

I needed our editor Shaurya Pratap Singh to show me the way to the shorter version of my film, without losing any of its poetic essence. The longer version is a little over 142 minutes, and it has every scene that is in my screenplay. It is to Shaurya’s credit that we now have a version that is just short of 105 minutes - a version that is still fulfilling, for the experience I want, for my audience.

Editor Keerthana Murali, with her calm and enduring presence, was present on set, during the filming, and was therefore tuned in, to the rhythm of the narrative. In the months that followed the filming, she proved to be an able and efficient collaborator, in putting together the film.

Few people can listen better than my partner in Cinematography, J. Ganeson, not counting my location Sound Engineer, that is! With a keen sense of people and the flow of different energies, he could efficiently channel the creativity, and the energy of our young Associates, Vishal Bawa, and Priyank Sharma.

Of Elangovan Ranga, my Sound Designer, I have already spoken, when I referred to the difficulty of working with live sound. To him, and to our Boom Operator, S. Kalaichelvan, we owe a great deal, for the diligent recording, of not just the dialogues, but also of the ambience and of the effects. It made our work in Post Production so much easier.

Associate Cinematographer Vishal Bawa is an asset, for his ability to find solutions to technical problems, under the stress of an ongoing shoot. Together with Associate Cinematographer Priyank Sharma, they were the mainstay of the Production, for their understanding of light, and their ability to operate the Ronin, and the portable crane.

Divya Goswami is a practising Costume designer, and someone who has worked on a major production like Ang Lee’s ‘Life of Pi’. She was responsible for both Art and Costume, and worked closely with Ashwini, to create the palette of colours that we see on film. Very methodical, and with an ability to foresee and arrange for even those things that got left out of the Art and Accessories list, she created a wonderful ambience, for the telling of our story.

Finally, my Assistants, Pranesh Balagopalan and Subbiah. They worked harder than everyone else, and yet, not everyone understood what it was that they actually did. On a set, that was understaffed for Production, they shouldered a lot of what would have been the responsibility, of a Production Manager and his team. They were the last to go to sleep on any given day, and the first people to wake up, to ensure that we were off to a timely start. In many ways, both seen and unseen, they silently facilitated the work on the film.

I am grateful to all of them, for making this journey so special and worthwhile.
In India, given the general level of noise there is, at any moment, and from all possible sources, it is like swimming against the currents. You either die trying, or, you survive. We survived thanks to the faith and the tenacity of our crew, with Elangovan, our Sound Designer, making sure that there was no compromise, in the quality of the sound being recorded.
When you have a film that is rich in music and dance, it makes perfect sense that Sinoy Joseph, the Sound Engineer doing the Final Sound Mix, be a dancer himself! Of course, I didn’t know that, at the time he came on board. It was a pleasure to work with someone who had this kind of sensitivity, to the subject of the film.
Vedanth Bharadwaj, was not as much a choice, as destiny. The intensely spiritual quality of the music he creates, is something I have loved, ever since I first listened to him, several years ago. The voice of Parvathi in the film, is Bindhumalini. It is a voice that reminds me of another great singer, M. S. Subbulakshmi. Powerful and sublime!

THE MUSIC COMPOSER SPEAKS



It is as though I share with Kaarthikeyan Kirubhakaran, a relationship across several lifetimes. It is so special. We have so much in common, that inspires, and fuels what we create. He dons several hats in the making of this film - Producer, Writer, Director, and, Lyricist! As a Director of the film, he is someone, with immense clarity and vision. The music of ‘His Father’s Voice’ was born, from the collective energies of one very special, and inspired morning, in the encounter of Kaarthikeyan’s lyrics, and the words of his screenplay, with our own sensibilities. It was magical!

It was wonderful to work with P T Narendran for composing the music for the dance in the film. It is the first time I have composed for a classical dance recital. Narendran, a gifted dancer, singer, and Teacher, helped me lay out the tunes for this 8th century Sanskrit drama, entitled, ‘Uttararamacharita’, by the playwright, Bhavabhuti. Again, as with Kaarthikeyan’s lyrics, the songs for the Drama, happened most spontaneously, at one go, as we all sat together, in Kaavadi.

Working with Ashwini Pratap Pawar, is like working with myself, because we are both persistent in our commitment to perfection. I still remember a moment in my studio, when Ashwini conducted my recording for a line in Sanskrit, which is of Rama, longing for Sita. We must have recorded this single line, at least twenty times or more, to bring out the right emotion. And finally, when we got it, it was utterly moving, as though we had given a voice, to Rama’s grief!

Bindhu Malini Narayanaswamy is the Artist with whom I collaborate the most often. She is the voice of Parvathi in the film. A voice soaked in honey, and drenched in sunshine! It is a voice that travels through time, and lingers in your being, long after you have seen the film. She contributes a whole lot more than her exquisite voice, as an Artist, as a Co-Creator, and, as a fellow Composer, brimming with ideas.

Jeremy Roske, the protagonist’s voice. One morning, at Kaarthikeyan’s house, all of us sat together. Kaarthikeyan was especially inspired, writing the lyrics in one uninterrupted flow. Jeremy and I were jamming, and we composed five songs straight, in about three or four hours. It was unbelievable. And that’s how the songs actually came about. When Jeremy came back to the Studio, to record for the songs, he had a deeply personal connection to them, as though they were his own. The character ‘Jon’ came to life, with Jeremy’s singing.

Anil Srinivasan, the Pianist, is certainly the best Musician I have ever come across. He is like my mentor, my teacher, and an elder brother, all rolled into one. It is a blessing that he is a part of the music of the film. We understand each other perfectly, without needing to use too many words. He has a deep understanding of emotions, and, since this film revolves so much around Indian classical music and the arts, it is a space which is home to him.

Napier Peter Naveenkumar is the best bass guitarist in our country, and one of the best guitarists in the world. Navin is one of those talented musicians who spoil you with their sheer talent. With him, like with almost every other musician on this film, it is a work of co-creation.

Navin Chandar is definitely the best flautist in the Indian Film Industry, and one of the best flautists in the world. He is also a Composer, who has composed for several films. Working with him is to co-create. I rarely have to tell him what to play. After listening to the song, he plays something that is exactly how I would have liked it! It is telepathic communication, in its most effective form.

Bhavani Prasad, I have known for almost 20 years. We have a great sense of ease and comfort, in working with each other. I have been a fan of his style of playing the Veena, from the very beginning. He is one of the most sought after Vainikas in the country, with a very original style. He combines multiple genres into his playing, defying the definition of a Carnatic Veena Player. His music has a global quality to it. And for all that, he is an extremely humble human being.

I have known M T Aditya Srinivasan, since he was a mere boy. I have been collaborating with him for over ten years now. He brings a global quality to his percussion, all the while being anchored to the Indian Classical and the folk traditions. Our space of work is one of co-creation. It is while working with Aditya, that our Thillana became the Santana Thillana!

Akshay Anantapadmanabhan composed the jathi for the dance interaction between Valli and Kris, enacting Chandraketu and Lava, playing both the Mridangam and the Khanjira for it. He also played the Khanjira for the theme song, ‘Fire and Ice’, helping create a music that incorporates many different genres, while staying true to its Carnatic roots.

I have seen Keshava Kaarthikeyan over several years now, ever since he was a small child and truly a musical prodigy, playing the Tabla. Every time I was at Kaavadi, for a music discussion, I saw Keshava practicing his tabla, sitting in a corner all by himself. His music was the background to our discussion. One piece that he played gave me a strong visual cue. It was exactly that, which I needed for the film. His being there, at this moment in time, to record for the film, I count as a great blessing.

Prashanth Techno and I have been collaborating for several years now. So, there is a perfect understanding between us, of the kind of music that I enjoy creating. He is a wonderful human being who understands several genres of music, and where they come from. One of the most sought after, Music Producers in the Film Industry, and in the Independent Music Industry, it is always a pleasure to work with him.

The sound mix is as important as the music itself. Navneeth Balachanderan, with his touch, carried the music of the film, to greater heights, and brilliance, with his extraordinary sensitivity.

Our film was shot entirely with LED lights, powered by batteries, connected to an array of solar panels. And because of this, we used a fraction of the power that we would have normally required, to light up the set. Also, the locations for the film were all situated close to each other. There was a lot of saving, in terms of travel time, transport and fuel. We did all that we could, to make this project, environment friendly.
Again, what are the chances of your colorist being a Painter, when you are doing a film that has a lot of Art in it? Such a thing happens, only if you are very lucky. G Rajarajan, our Colorist, is a Painter and a Sculptor as well, having drawn early inspiration from his artist father. Ashwini who plays Parvathi in the film, is an Artist in real life, just like her on screen character. I had her work with Rajarajan, in fine tuning the palette of the film. Together, they have brought a great deal of sensitivity to the image on screen.
The film’s location is near the International Community known as Auroville, in Tamilnadu, situated close to Pondicherry. It is home to a wealth of talent, both for cast and for crew. Besides, it is a place with a heightened consciousness about the impact of our lives upon the environment. The film was powered in full, with the solar technology provided by the company, Sunlit Future, in Auroville.
There are a few people I have thanked on the credits of the film. I would like to say a few words about each one of them.

Sylvain Pieplu is someone who has been my companion on the path of writing, who worked with me since my student days in Paris, and after that. We wrote together. I would write scenes in English. Sylvain would write in French. We were essentially working on ideas, bouncing off each other, and co- creating. His interpretation of the world and mine, are very close in many ways. We have both benefited immensely, from our collaboration.

Rustom Bharucha suggested that I read the play RAMA’S LAST ACT, translated by Sheldon Pollock, from the original  ‘Uttararamacharita’, written by the 8th century playwright, Bhava-Bhuti. I was still working on my screenplay and I did not know then, that this play would have such an impact on me. It resulted in the creation of a parallel universe, inhabited by the characters of the Ramayana, within the narrative of the film.

Marco Feira, my Tai-Chi teacher, lives in Auroville and is one of the main people responsible for organising the Auroville Film Festival. He helped me find Jeremy and Julia, who play the roles of Jon and Clara - characters, central to my story.

Pravin, Kumaravel, and Krishna Devanandan, have been my companions on the path of writing. They have known me to write innumerable versions of screenplays, over the years. They have been a source of encouragement, helping me keep my faith in myself.

Chella Vaithiyanathan loaned us an additional camera for the film. Something that made it possible for us to accomplish a lot more, within the filming schedule.

Yorit Rozin and her husband Aviram are the founders of the Sadhana Forest Community in Auroville. The idea for how the children in the film would be raised, came from listening to their philosophy of un-schooling, for their own children.

Franck Apprederis is a veteran Director and Producer from France, with an impressive filmography. He worked with all my actors, in a workshop mode, during the pre-production. I believe that his inputs contributed significantly to the quality of acting in my film.

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INTERVIEW

‘His Father’s Voice’: A Film Tapping into the Power of Culture, Relationships, Healing

“What is love, without understanding?” Indian director Kaarthikeyan Kirubhakaran asks this question in his directorial debut, “His Father’s Voice,” as he explores love, bonds, relationships and hope which form an integral part of human existence.
Read more

Reena Rathore
India-West Staff Reporter
His Father’s Voice: Interview with actor and producer Ashwini Pratap Pawar

"His Father’s Voice" is a new movie based in India about a young dancer returning to his divorced father and reconnecting with his first love. The movie is from India but it now gaining fans in America due to its inclusion in several film festivals.
Read more

Meagan J. Meehan
Kaarthikeyan Kirubhakaran on His Film ‘His Father’s Voice’

The cultural allure of India is on display in the new film His Father’s Voice, directed and written by Kaarthikeyan Kirubhakaran. The plot centers on Kris (Christopher Gurusamy), a talented young dancer, who returns to India 12 years after being separated from his father during his parents’ divorce.
Read more

Paul Hansen
ScreenPicks

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