Prakash Bare's childhood obsession with film takes shape as his film is set to be screened at the International Film Festival of Kerala
When Prakash Bare was a little boy growing up in the coastal city of Kannur in northern Kerala, one of his favourite passtimes was to collect film strips that would be sliced between various 35 mm reels in his father's cinema. Over a two or three week period, apart from dedicatedly watching the Malayalam and Tamil films that were screened, Bare would try to stitch together his own little film from the strips that were sliced away. “I think I was like that kid in the film ‘Cinema Paradiso',” says the soft-spoken Bare, with a nostalgic smile that can only accompany a childhood memory.
Bare's reference is to the 1988 Italian film in which the protagonist's (named Salvatore) tryst with the magic of films starts at a young age in the projectionist's room at a local movie theatre. The similarity between Bare and Salvatore does not end there. Both end up making films — of course in Bare's case there was a longish break before he realised his dream but the wait has been worth it as his first film has been selected in the ‘Competition' section of the prestigious International Film Festival of Kerala that will be held next month.
“Sufi Paranja Katha” (What the Sufi Said), a Malayalam film, is his debut venture (he has produced and starred in it). The film explores the syncretic heritage of the Malabar region in Kerala by telling the tale of a shrine and how it came to be. A period film, set more than a 100 years ago, the “Sufi…” is an immersive experience where the viewer will sink into a historical Kerala and be taken on a nuanced journey into the troubled realms of faith, love and sensuality. The film has been directed by Priyanandanan, whose last film “Pulijanmam” (2007) won the 54th National Award for Best Feature Film.
It is not surprising that Bare has chosen to base his first film on acclaimed Malayalam novelist K.P. Ramanunni's novel of the same name as he grew up in the Kannur of a different time and a more harmonious communal ethos. Kannur is now often in the news for its violent communal clashes, but as Bare says, “Things started changing in the region after the demolition of the Babri mosque in 1992. That was the time I left Kerala and when I returned after several years, it was a very different city.”
Bare's extended stay outside Kerala took this engineering graduate to the Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpur for his post-graduation and then onwards to the Mecca of software entrepreneurs, Silicon Valley in California. But Bare had always wanted to return and reconnect with film and theatre back home.
Devotee of theatre
Like many other actors Bare is a devotee of theatre. “Between the two (film and theatre) I think my first love has always been theatre. Even in my college days I was very active in theatre and have acted in the plays of Beckett and Brecht.”
But when he returned to India eventually after spending 14 years in Silicon Valley he found theatre in India to be a weakened medium and chose to spend his energy on cinema.
While “Sufi…” is his first film and is expected to be commercially released early next year, he has finished shooting his second film “Janaki” where he plays a villain.
Bare feels that there is incredible talent in Indian cinema but what is lacking is a professional approach in post-production. For most producers, films are a ‘side business' and he wants to correct this approach to cinema. “I was successful in launching an intellectual property company and marketed that well. Similarly, if a film is made with a talented director, good story and it is marketed internationally, it should be successful.”
His strong belief in not conforming to ‘formulaic film making' is hopeful and his approach is refreshing, especially considering that he wants to direct his own films soon.
In a rare combination of someone who has an understanding of cinema and has a pragmatic approach to selling a film, this father of two, who has adopted Bangalore as his home, is keeping his fingers crossed for the commercial release of “Sufi…” early next year.