Multi-Palanca award winner Njel de Mesa talks about his immersion in ‘Respeto’

TREB MONTERAS’ Respeto is the looming underdog among the nine entries in the full-length feature category in this year’s edition of Cinemalaya.

Except for  rapper Abra as its main attraction , it features lesser name stars but surprisingly comes off as the best picture favorite among cinephiles.

But what sets Respeto a cut above the rest is its inspired direction and masterful storytelling.

According to reviews, the movie is worth more than the respect of its audience.

It is not a typical story of triumph usually expected from a sports formula or musical competition movie yet ends up much more daring and innovative than one can expect.

For this, credit must go to its screenwriter Njel de Mesa who painstakingly took his time out to immerse himself in the slums for a week during the writing process.

“I wrote the entire film script of Respeto sequestered all alone in Tagayatay. I had to write eleven revisions to the script. Actually, I self-financed the entire writing process and production in the very beginning since Cinemalaya required us to submit a full script before being considered,” he said.

In order to guarantee the effectiveness and the dramatic life of the script, Njel financed three script readings and the early auditions—to preserve the authenticity of the language and dynamics of the characters before the CCP auditions and principal photography.

Even, the characters of Respeto were all the brainchild of Njel.

“The main title characters  Hendrix, Doc, Breezy G, Mando, Connie and others were all names and characters I created,” he told PSR.

“In writing the script, I got inspiration from the works of National Artists: Virgilio Almario, Bienvenido Lumbera, Frank G. Rivera and some of the rappers that I’ve worked with since I also dabble into rap music,” he added.

Njel is happy for the word of mouth and rave reviews his movie is currently getting from social media and among festival habitués.

De Mesa is a multi-Palanca award winning writer and is the playwright of the cult-classic, SubText. He is also a singer-songwriter under Universal Records with new radio singles; “Puso ang Sandata” and Magkaisa” which is available from iTunes, Spotify, Amazon Music, Deezer and Spinnr.

Respeto is a story of an amateur rapper and a seasoned poet who find a connection through music and poems.

It stars Abra, Loonie, Sinio, Dido dela Paz, Chai Fonacier, Kate Alejandrino, Silvister Bagadiong, Brian Arda, Thea Yrastorza, Nor Domingo and a lot more.

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