Pawan K. Shrivastava on his crowd-funded film “Naya Pata”, and the process of making it.
When Pawan K. Shrivastava scripted his film and showed it to friends and directors, the feedback he received wasn’t positive. They pointed out that the script was bare and lacked incidents and events. No one would ever finance such content, they told him. But the young director soldiered on.
His “Naya Pata” was made possible with the help of not one but over 150 producers. Pawan is the latest in a fast growing list of independent filmmakers to tap the potential of crowd-funding, to overcome the barriers and whims of the film industry.
The film, screened recently at the India Habitat Centre in New Delhi, tells the story of the emotional turmoil inflicted by migration. It borrows from the director’s own experiences of having lived and grown up in Marhowrah, in Saran district of Bihar. “When I was in school there, between 1985 and ’90, the sugar industries started closing. When they shut, in the school that I studied in, the standard of the notebooks, the quality of their lunch, they all declined. Slowly people started migrating. This is the backdrop of the story,” Pawan says.
The film’s protagonist, Ram Swarath Dubey, migrates to New Delhi from Bihar in the aftermath of a sugar mill closing down. He gets a new job, and a new address, but not necessarily a new home. In Delhi, he is constantly haunted by the memories of his former home, but on his return home he is unable to find peace there.
“I have shown a life, how a man lives, how he eats, how he walks…I don’t have a plot in my film. It’s not necessary to have incidents in a film. Our life from last night to this morning need not have incidents, but it is still a story,” he says.
After graduation from Delhi, Shrivastava took up a job in Mumbai, but quit after two years to do theatre and assist in filmmaking. “I went back to Bihar eventually and made a few documentaries and several street plays for NGOs, on social issues. That boosted my confidence, and I went back to Mumbai,” he says.
“The background we came from made it difficult for us to even dream that we could be filmmakers. We were just an audience,” he adds. But an awareness of director Onir’s successful experiment, and a huge network that was bequeathed to him by his activism, led him to give crowd-funding a shot. He shot off emails to the 500 contacts on his email, and from there it reached 2000-2500 people. “Slowly I started getting money. I didn’t have the dates for the shoot, but I hired the lights anyway. This way I trapped myself into making this film, and as the money came I went on shooting...I didn’t have the attitude of the director; I thought first let’s get the film made, the attitude can come later.”
With the film being made, the battle is only half won. Indie films struggle with distribution, but Shrivastava is optimistic that he’ll be able to secure theatrical release and TV rights for his film. “I am very hopeful, but I have been able to make this film because I was hopeful,” he says.