With His Short Film ‘Rajasaur” Filmmaker Sreejith Nair Introduces Indian Dinosaurs to American Audience
- The film is a fantasy version of prehistoric India where humans and dinosaurs coexist, and a father and daughter must embark on a dangerous mission to return the lost egg of India's most dangerous dinosaur.
Indian American actor and filmmaker Sreejith Nair is currently promoting his short film “Rajasaur,” which takes the audience into the unknown and vast world of the Indian dinosaur. The film is a fantasy version of prehistoric India where humans and dinosaurs coexist (a la “One Million Years B.C.”), where a father and daughter must embark on a dangerous mission to return the lost egg of a Rajasaurus, India’s most dangerous dinosaur. Nair, who also stars in the film, collaborated with author Vaishali Shroff for the screenplay.
Speaking about the genesis of the film with American Kahani, Nair recalled how Disney’s “Dinosaur,” the first movie he ever saw, had a huge impact on his life. “My childhood was literally all dinosaur films — “Jurassic Park, King Kong, The Land Before Time, etc..” Since then, Nair has been researching dinosaurs his entire life. “When he entered the film industry, I was super eager to make my own dinosaur film, but I just never knew how I wanted to do it.”
It was only after reading Shroff’s book “The Adventures of Padma and a Blue Dinosaur,” that Nair’s “whole world changed.” He was introduced to a world of Indian dinosaurs that was just beyond his imagination. He reached out to Shroff for collaboration, and thus “Rajasaur” was born. “I knew we were on the edge of making something really special and unique. Indian Dinosaurs were not widely known to audiences here in America, and we really wanted to change that, and expand on dinosaur representation.”
Nair managed to get an entire Malayalam cast for the film. “Being from Kerala myself, that was very special to all of us,” he says. “I had a bigger spark of excitement when Los Angeles-based Bollywood dance teacher Sharon James, and his daughter Sayanora, agreed to do this film.”
Sayanora Sharon plays the daughter, “ a brave little kid who always tries to protect what is beautiful about nature,” while Nair essays the role of the father, “a grizzled and brutal caveman who will protect his daughter at all costs.” Sharon James plays the Blue Viper-Man, an evil monster who eats dinosaur eggs. “The Blue-Viper Man was very exciting to work on, because he was my homage to my love of classic monster mythology,” says Nair. “It was a huge collaboration between myself, Sharon James, and costume designer Andrew Blake.”
Speaking about the making of the film, Nair says: “We took our favorite aspects of different serpent creatures from all world mythologies and combined them into something new and unique. Creating the mythology behind a new and original monster is something I’m most proud of.”
Nair shot the film at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. “I was afraid that much of it would not get done due to the pandemic, but the entire cast and crew were so passionate and so eager to make this film, knowing that it was going to be something very special.” Nair is “proud and grateful” for how the film turned out. “This truly was a dream come true for me and I am extremely grateful to everyone who worked on it.”
The Rajasaurus model was designed, modeled, and rigged by Akash Singh of Akash Productions in Kolkata, and the final VFX animation was done by Connor Thomas of the Los Angeles-based Dead Cow Studios. Shroff consulted on the design of the Rajasaurus, making sure it was as accurate as possible to how paleontologists interpreted the creature. “I felt a huge responsibility to make sure we got the dinosaur as accurate as possible, as this was the first time we were presenting an Indian dinosaur to the world on film,” says Nair.