Independent filmmaker Hemant Gaba on his maiden project "Shuttlecock Boys" and the challenges of making low-budget films

After wooing audiences in festivals in New York, Chicago and Seattle, indie filmmaker Hemant Gaba is hoping to get his maiden project “Shuttlecock Boys” out in the theatres.

Backed with fresh young actors and a touching script, his spirited film about entrepreneurship plays out like an independent “Rocket Singh”. It's a film made with a lot of heart. Hemant shares his journey to the waiting room, the place where many brave independent filmmakers fight it out to get the film released.

“The story of the film originated from my growing-up years in addition to my desire to become an entrepreneur. The friendship between the four lead characters and their playing badminton comes from my life,” says Hemant.

Then came the challenge of raising funds for his passion project. “The funds mainly came from our personal savings... Pankaj Johar and mine. Pankaj has produced it with me,” he adds. Friends and family soon chipped in as well. “When our parents and a close group of friends saw that we were really keen on making the film they also pooled in some resources with which we completed it.”

“Shuttlecock Boys” is an intensely personal coming-of-age film that in many ways is similar to the story of Hemant's life. “It took me some five years to figure out my calling which was to make films. This is what I enjoy doing. This is what makes me forget the sense of day, night, month and year. This is what I look forward to. This is what keeps me going. Life is pretty much empty and meaningless barring the desire to make films. The experience of filmmaking has taught me self-expression, shown me some really interesting perspectives of life, different ways of being and also the futility of anxiety.”

He is confident that the film will strike a chord among the youth around the country because of its relevance to the Indian context.

“I grew up in a typical middle-class environment where security and stability is given more priority than free thinking and experimentation. An environment where I saw more hypocrisy than acceptance. A culture where I saw sex still behind locked doors and something not to be talked about. This is what I will focus on in my forthcoming films. But my attempt will always be to narrate these real stories in an unusual, entertaining and engaging way with a pinch of humour.”

How easy has the journey been?

“I don't think independent films get sold these days in India. I wonder if they were ever sold. Of course, barring the films when there is a star... or very few ones where the producer or director is a brand or has a existing relationship with studios and production houses. Distributors that I managed to meet after repeated follow ups don't want to consider a Rs.35 lakh film because it's too small game for them. And probably it won't make much business sense for them to spend a crore on publicity to release the film. Unfortunately, there is also no direct TV or video on demand or DVD release model in India. TV channels ask for a theatrical release and then they look at the box office collection or at the hype during the film release.”

And he continues to fight.


Sudhish KamathMay 11, 2012