Big dream in a small budget: How T’vpm based Sodabottle Team completed their film Operation Olipporu
Sodabottle Team, the group behind some viral movie spoofs on social media, is all set to enter the big league with their Operation Olipporu, a film about two friends who decide to rob a finance firm to overcome their money crunch. Under the banner of Continuum Cinemas, the 58-minute independent film will be released on Sodabottle Entertainment’s YouTube channel on January 23. The ‘Hollywood style’ action film, which was shot in Thiruvananthapuram, is packed with comedy and adventure. Yet, the team has completed the project on a tight budget of Rs 4 lakh.
“We believe that we have tried to push the envelope of what can be done in short films in this project. We wanted to create a big-screen experience while being on a small budget. We tried to make this film as cinematic as it can be — riveting gunfights, gripping car chases, — all within budget, which was a difficult task for a home production film,” says Akshay Ajayakumar, the film’s director, who is on cloud nine as his debut movie’s poster releases today. “We believe that our project will inspire small filmmakers to portray stories on a bigger canvas. Anything can be faked to make it seem bigger than it is,” he adds.
Passing on the credit to his team, a confident Akshay says that the success of the movie lies in having a great team that shared his vision. Akhil S, Arjun RS, Ananthan GT, Ajoy Joseph Tharakan, Sharook Naushad, and Ajith Kumar are the main cast in the film. While Akhil Balan and Christy Aby Varghese rendered the music for the action-comedy, Manu Mohan P — who works in an advertising agency — is the editor-cum-cinematographer for the project. Apart from them, Abhay, Akshay’s cousin who played major roles in his some viral movie spoofs, is also a part of the team.
Software engineers Akshay and Sony Mathew, who were friends from a very young age, always dreamt of making movies, starting it all with movie spoofs. According to Sony, the writer-cum-associate director of the film, they hope to bring “the big screen experience to a small budget movie”. Talking about the conception of their movie, Akshay, chuckling, says, “We were always into comedy. We wanted to tell a story that would be funny at heart but big in scale and depth. The idea started with a short film, but the story began demanding more depth and more screen time. Hence we ended up in the middle — where it is too long to be a short film and too short to be a feature film.”
The movie features familiar locations within the city, as Thiruvananthapuram Corporation Office and Technopark Phase-I served as the major locations for Operation Olipporu. The team also used the closed bypass in Vizhinjam-Kovalam to shoot their thrilling chase sequences.
Apart from their latest venture, the team has been very active in the vlogosphere with their video projects that have gone viral. Akshay says that everything happened unexpectedly. “Videos were something that we did for fun. We didn’t expect them to go viral. However, we have always wanted to tell a story on a bigger canvas since we were in school,” the passionate filmmaker said, adding that they got tired of waiting around. “One day we had a random idea — two robberies taking place at the same time — we jumped into it and began developing it. Everything we knew about cinema came from watching movies. Therefore, we had to do a lot of research regarding every aspect of filmmaking. The project was started the moment we found the right people to work with,” Akshay says.
According to Manu, making a film for the first time was a challenge. “Till now we have been doing only spoofs of movies — something we did for fun and did not expect to go viral.” The team recalled how they had to postpone work for their film right from the beginning. “We had to reschedule the shoot of our film during the flood in 2018. Also, just as we were about to release the film, Covid-19 and its subsequent lockdown happened,” added Manu, who says that the movie will be released soon on OTT platforms after the YouTube release.
Earlier this week, the team had organised a screening of the film, adhering to Covid-19 protocol. Stars who had attended the event were full of praise for their hard work. . The teaser of the movie will be released today 6 pm on their YouTube channel.