The Eight Column Affair

You also believe that National Film School products are incapable to survive in any mainstream industry, don’t you? As if students who get admitted there are given the wardrobe of either anarchists or old school intellectuals, who don’t want to do narrative movies, right?

Ever thought of masters who broke this pattern?

Sriram Raghavan is one such pearl, who broke all conventions. He is a FTIIian, who is a part of the Indian popular cinema industry for last 3 decades. And yes, his movies don’t follow the mainstream equations to sell false hope.

For a moment, let me take you back to late 1980s. Ever watched, The Eight Column Affair (1987), which marked the entry of Sriram Raghavan ?
I take that as a no. Well, then you must watch this short fantasy.
I was not even born when they made it, so don’t jump into conclusions that the I have some tie-ups with the project. I don’t think I will be able to please you in one sentence, but go through the following 7 reasons and decide for yourself :

  • The Eight Colum Affair’, short (29 mts) fantasy fiction, was chosen as the ‘Best Short Fiction Film’ in 35th National Film Awards (of India). That is right, the Rajat Kamal (Silver Lotus) award. Believe it or not, it was the Diploma Film which Sriram Raghavan made while he was the final year student at Film and Television Institute (Pune).


  • Sriram Raghavan later did a 70 minutes long docu-fiction on the infamous serial killer Raman Raghav with Raghubir Yadav and Ram Gopal Varma loved it. He signed him up for Ek Hasina Thi (2004), which marked his debut in Bollywood.


  • ‘The Eight Column Affair’ was edited by Sriram’s batchmate Rajkumar Hirani. He started the career as an editor and later shifted the gear to writer-director roles. Yes, his Munnabhai MBBS (2003), Lage Raho Munnabhai (2006), 3 Idiots (2009) and one of its kind lesson to all, PK (2014). Lately, he is making a biopic of Sanjay Dutt named ‘Dutt’.


  • Their batchmate Hari Nair shot this. He is yet another unique cinematographer who has filmed unique films like Swaham (1994), Dahan (1998), Shool (1999) till Unfreedom (2014) and many Malayalam movies like Theevram(2012), Shutter(2012), Balyakalasakhi (2014) and Appothecary (2014).


  • Sivkumar Subramaniam played lead character, the Marathon runner’s role. He acted in many Bollywood movies and Hindi TV serials. He is also well known for penning the screenplays for movies like Parinda (1989), 1942 – A Love story (1994), Chameli (2003) and Teen Patti (2010). He recently portrayed Ananya’s father’s role in 2 states (2014).
  • Did you recognize the actor who played the role of the actor in the short film? It is the one and only Nana Patekar, who later conquered 3 National Film Awards (one in Best Actor and 2 in Best supporting Actor categories). He has also directed a movie, named Prahaar : The Final Attack (1991).


  • From ‘The Eight Colum Affair’ how much did Sriram Raghavan evolve?
  1. Ek Hasina Thi (2004) is a neo-noir, loosely based on Sidney Sheldon’s ‘If Tomorrow Comes’, produced by Ram Gopal Varma.
  2. Johnny Gaddar (2007) is another sleeper hit neo-noir which stands close to classic foreign neo-noirs. It got remade into Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam.
  3. Agent Vinod (2012) is the most underrated Indian espionage movie which breaks all the conventions of spy thriller equations of Bond movies or such franchises.
  4. Badlapur (2015) is my favourite and his best till date. I believe it was named so to hide the abbreviation for “Pura Badlav”, the complete change. The movie portrays the humane protagonist’s transformation into a beast and a beast like antagonist’s transformation into a human. Must watch stuff.
  5. Shoot the Piano Player (tentative title) is still on production stage. Mark my words, this will be the turning point in Ayushmann Khuranna’s career as he hasn’t done anything unconventional yet.

PS : When I read the title Shoot the Piano Player and saw the first look poster, the first thing that popped up in my mind was the famous French short film L’Accordeur (The Piano Tuner,2010). If that is where Raghavan found his inspiration, then Shoot the Piano Player will lead the Box Office for sure.

Now may I ask you the question from which I started this article again?

PPS: Guys, before criticizing ‘The Eight Column Affair’, don’t forget the fact that a group of students shot this on black and white film stock back in 1987, with very less resources.

Thanks for understanding.
With Love,

Another clueless Film student