Documentary “Out of Thin Air” tells the story of the budding Ladakhi film industry

Cinema is the strongest medium of communication. The adage comes true in Ladakh where common people are showing their fascination towards Hindi cinema by making their own films in Ladakhi. A documentary on the nascent Ladakhi film industry was screened at IIC in the Capital recently. “Out of Thin Air” is made by debutant director duo Samreen Farooqui and Shabani Hassanwalia.

Unknown aspects

The post graduates in Mass Communication from Jamia Millia Islamia University, say the idea germinated when they came to know about this small film industry in Ladakh while assisting a filmmaker there. Samreen says, “Their fascinating film industry prompted us to make a film on them. We want to show unknown aspects of Ladakhi people through our film. The people indulging in the art are common people like general store owners, monks, taxi drivers, housewives and cops, etc. Filmmaking requires some sort of training or film-making course. But these people are self-taught filmmakers. These people work as directors, producers, actors, editors, cinematographers and writers, etc.”

Shabani Hassanwalia adds, “Filmmaking requires some technical skills and these people have mastered technical aspects like editing and sound recording by reading manuals on the software.”

Romance rules

They usually make romantic and emotional family dramas. It is apparently the sure shot hit formula. The inspiration from Hindi films is very much apparent. The actors have nick names like Munna Bhai, Sanju Baba. They use digital cameras to shoot their films. The most famous film production group is Ladakh Vision Group. They want to make technically sound films, but the budget becomes a hurdle. Usually they invest between five to fifteen lakhs rupees. A focused conversational narrative keeps the interest going in the film. One of the members of this production group says, “We require fifty lakhs to make a very good film like they make in Bombay.” Then there is an interesting story of a monk, who writes songs and stories and wants to direct a film.

The Ladakhi film industry is only six-year-old but the enthusiasm and positive attitude of these people are really unparalleled.