March 16 - March 19 , 2023

Interview | The Resilient Larsons – Kalyan Mantri

fdiff June 01, 2022 8 min read

The Resilient Larsons



Tell us something about the title of your movie. How would you describe resilience and why has it become a significantly important tool for survival? 


The title “The Resilient Larsons” reflects what we all at one point experience in our lives. The ability to recover from difficulties and stand strong is very important to succeed. What inspired me to name the movie The Resilient Larsons, I would say, I don’t want to name anything related to disabilities and create sympathy around the characters. I honestly don’t understand why many films are named after a disability. When we are telling a story the title should resemble the plot. In this story both Laura and David stand strong despite all the difficulties life throws at them. 


Tell us about the origin of your story. How did you come up with it? What inspired you to write a story like this? 


No miracles around the origin of this story. I happened to be browsing on the internet  and I saw a beautiful picture of a couple lying on the floor and she’s pregnant in that picture. I felt like, wow beautiful moment. But, is it the same everyone feels? We all know society as we all know today is made for people who can talk, who can see, who can walk with the exception of some arrangements for people with disabilities. But, still we are failing to educate everyone that people with disabilities don’t look around for sympathy. They want us to make them feel they are also included. As a person who can speak, walk, and see, I almost always took the simplest things for granted. For example, becoming parents. We all know this is a precious moment in anyone’s life. But, to someone who has to deal with a world which is not made for them, and navigate everyday tasks with extreme care, this is a mixed emotions moment. That inspired me to write this story. As I developed this story, all I want is people to appreciate the things around them and respect everyone. 



How would you describe your relationship with cinema? Is it a bittersweet one, or one that has always given you a reason to smile, a perfect escape route?


Growing up in India I have a very strong relationship with cinema. My perspective towards movies changed when I started developing passion towards filmmaking. I find myself connected to emotions regardless of what movie I was watching. It could be a superhero movie or a drama. Very soon I realized that emotions are what people will remember after leaving the theater. Now I strongly believe movies cannot be just about entertainment. As a filmmaker, when you have the ability to have a huge impact on some random person who purchased a ticket, try to put a smile on the person’s face or make them think. 


Who were the directors that you absolutely admire? What would be the movie to watch for you, at any point of time? Something you are never tired of watching. 


I admire the works of Ron Howard and Roland Emmerich. Anytime I want some inspiration, I watch their Independence Day (first one) and Apollo 13. I have no idea how many times I watched these. Countless! The way these two movies portray drama in such a very sci-fi situation is unmatchable. I also like James Cameron’s work. One scene of his work stays with me forever. In Avatar first part when Jake in his Avatar stands for the first time out of his wheelchair he feels the ground. Such a simple shot yet very powerful. 


The story of David and Laura, their resilient struggle against an agonizing ordeal reminded me of a conversation between Martin Hart (Woody Harrelson) and Rust Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) in the first season of True Detective about the tussle between light and darkness. Do you truly believe that the balance between light and darkness be proportionate? Or do you believe a little light has the power to diminish a lot of darkness around us? 


Everyone at sometime in their life sees total darkness. If we prefer to stay in that darkness we could never see the light. I believe when you don’t see a path around, create one for yourself. No one cares for you, no one has that time in this world to come for your rescue. Only you have that strength. Lay a path that you feel can lead you to the light. Sometimes a small hope can lead to bigger success. 



How would you describe the role played by the technical aspects in a movie that offers a preponderant emotive experience? How do you think the colors and the sounds influence the narrative?


This movie is very tricky when it comes to sound. Sometimes I have to leave an entire sequence in total silence and let the emotions take the front seat. When a deaf person signs their body language speaks too. Not just sign alone cannot emote the intention. For example, you can take a simple sentence “How are you?” in many ways. It all depends on how you say it. It could be sarcastic, funny, threatening. You will convey this through voice modulation. When it comes to sign language, we will understand this with body language, movement and sounds. So, I have to sometimes go for long shots where I can show both hands (remember signing requires both hands), silence. Also, to make the viewer involved I must use music which should not overshadow the emotion. It was a tough task. But, I must thank my composer for this. She understood the importance of this. 


Do you think the struggles depicted through silence create a more visceral impact ? The space where the audience is not directly being told about the evident agony yet a potent sense of despair can be felt. 


When you are constantly feeding your viewers with information you are not leaving enough room for them to explore. You are not challenging them. At some point it becomes very predictable. As a filmmaker/storyteller you must challenge your audience and give them the ability to imagine. Sometimes a moment of silence will be more effective than writing a thousand words. Abstract art, take this as an example, what was the intention behind the art no one can explain other than its creator. But, everyone will have their own perspective. But, one common thing that matches is emotion. Emotion is the same in any culture, language or region. 


How mesmerized were you by the performances in the movie? What impressed you about the performances of Eddie Buck and Dani Duran?


Where to start 🙂 When I narrated this story to them I had several questions in my head. How am I going to do this? How should I communicate with them? Eddie and Dani are two committed actors who respect their craft so much that they will do anything and everything to make a scene look as good as possible. Very quick learners too. They are the reason I was able to tell this story. They appreciate each other’s work, their commitment helped me to finish this project’s filming part in 3 days. 



Do you think the domain of difference serves as a potent cause of prejudices in the world today? The belief that if someone is not like me, there must be something wrong with the other person.


I don’t say prejudice is the problem here. Tolerance levels in the society as a whole has drastically declined. When you start to think of yourself in someone else’s situation I believe there won’t be any differences of opinion. But, this process requires time. And no one has that time these days. Hence we are less tolerant towards others’ situations and simply jumping to conclusions. Success or failure is not a choice, they are a struggle. 


How beautiful the world would be if we looked past our prejudices and threw away the superficial lens of ideology? What are the things you think we miss if we spend more time criticizing and less appreciating something that is beautiful irrespective? 


The beauty of this world lies in our eyes. Human mentality is to appreciate things that are beautiful to see and avoid those which are not pleasing to watch. But, when we start to find peace and happiness in what we have, everyday every moment is a joy and happiness. It takes a moment to criticize, but it takes an effort and whole heart to appreciate things around you. In one scenario we use our brain and in the other scenario we use our heart. Choose wisely!


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