Bengaluru International Film Festival

With a strong spirit of filmmaking

Bengaluru Karnataka 06/02/2017 Bobby Sarma Barual Director of the Movie Sonar Baran Pakhi during the interaction session with Media at the Bengaluru international Film Festival in Bengaluru on Monday.
Photo: Sampath Kumar G P

Bengaluru Karnataka 06/02/2017 Bobby Sarma Barual Director of the Movie Sonar Baran Pakhi during the interaction session with Media at the Bengaluru international Film Festival in Bengaluru on Monday. Photo: Sampath Kumar G P   | Photo Credit: G_P_Sampath Kumar

Young and passionate filmmakers from the north eastern states of India are keeping their stories and languages alive through their cinema. With sometimes just two theatres in an entire State, they take them from village to village for shows

Pradip Kurbah, Meghalaya

Film: Onaatah

Language: Khasi

Pradip is a self taught filmmaker, who has made music albums and videos of his own, and for others.

"In 1997 me and my family shot a film on 16 mm film, called Ka Mon Bajwat - A Strong will. We made it on a budget of 22 lakhs, got technicians from Mumbai, faced lots of ups and downs. We wanted to record songs in Mumbai, but Shillong singers dumped us. So we made Bollywood singers Sonu Nigam and Mahalaxmi Iyer sing Khasi songs! We were criticised for taking Mumbai singers, but when the film released it, was a massive hit and we made money," he says.

Bengaluru Karnataka 06/02/2017 Pradip Kurabh Director of the movie " Daughter of the Earth " during the interaction session with Media at the Bengaluru international Film Festival in Bengaluru on Monday.
Photo: Sampath Kumar G P

Bengaluru Karnataka 06/02/2017 Pradip Kurabh Director of the movie " Daughter of the Earth " during the interaction session with Media at the Bengaluru international Film Festival in Bengaluru on Monday. Photo: Sampath Kumar G P   | Photo Credit: G_P_Sampath Kumar

 

"In Shillong we have three theatres. Hindi films give us big competition. I try to release my films during IPL season because Bollywood doesn't have big releases at that time!" When his my national-award winning film Ri Hit theatres, he was given four weeks because after that Salman Khan's Kick was releasing.

"There was a period of lull... but when the digital revolution started, people started making films again and started releasing them on DVD."

With a strong spirit of filmmaking
 

His latest film Onaatah is the story of a rape victim and how she picks up the pieces of her life after the verdict. "With this film, again a national award winner, I have travelled from village to village with a mobile theatre - a projection system, sound system...everything. But this time demonetisation hit us bad. Because all transactions in the villages are in cash. But people in villages are willing to pay and watch films. It's in the open air and begins after 5 in the evening and multiple shows can go on up to 2 a.m. To reach some villages I have to walk two to three hours to get there. We are passionate enough to overcome the problems," he says.

His film is largely crowd funded - moreover, the music director and cameraman waive off their fee...in that sense it's a cooperative effort.

The film was shot in 18 days at a cost of 28 lakhs. A Mumbai company has taken up world distribution rights. "They pay us the cost up front so it works for us."

He says there are four or five Khasi films releasing in a year. "We are a rather westernised place so people prefer Hollywood to Bollywood movies. But then again, people do prefer their mother tongue also. "

The biggest drawback in the north east is that we don't exchange films among each other between our states, he stresses." I hope other directors too think beyond Meghalaya. "

Nilanjan Datta, Assam

Film: The Head Hunter

Language: Wancho / Arunachali

Nilanjan Datta, a graduate from the Film and Television Institute of India in Pune, studied 11th and 12th in Arunachal Pradesh. He now teaches at FTII.

"I'm from Assam but while studying in Arunachal, we students would see this tribal man at the weekend markets. I was curious about him...people would shoo him away because he wouldn't dress properly and didn't have proper etiquette," recalls Datta.

With a strong spirit of filmmaking

He was from a tribe of head hunters - a practise banned by the state government in 1991. The more enemy heads that were hunted the more powerful the man was in his tribe, explains Datta. His film tells the story of how this forgotten tribe has resisted development in the forest through a fictional story of a tribesman.

"I just felt I had to make a film on him. I didn't even know the language.

The Wancho Society helped me make the film. An NID student from the community translated my script. People were there on set to make sure the language and accent were right."

With a strong spirit of filmmaking
 

About four lakh people in the state speak this language in the LongDing district, he says. "This particular tribesman who acted in my film thankfully spoke English, Hindi, Bengali and Assamese because he had worked with the Missionaries."

In the state of Arunachal there are no theatres at all, says Datta. Only video halls that seat about 30 to 40 people. "I'm hoping to release it in such halls. But that's only in the larger cities. In the districts even that is not there." His producers were friends from Mumbai and Delhi who put in money because they liked the story.

Prashant Rasaily, Sikkim

Film: Kathaa

Language: Gorkhali

Curator of the festival's films from the NE, Shantanu says Prashant is one of the most elusive filmmakers, who had to be chased to part with his movie. He lives in a region where email is the only hope. Even cell phone networks are rare.

Prashant himself admits he's not the kind to worry about marketing his film. "I make a film and get lost. My friends do my marketing!" Prashant was the first runner up on the reality show Gateway to Hollywood and has assisted Anurag Basu on the Bollywood film Kites. "I'm the second filmmaker in the state to emerge 15 years after Danny Denzongpa's nephew Ugen Chopel started making films. It's been quite some time since he made a movie too."

Bengaluru Karnataka 06/02/2017 Prashant Rosaily Director of the movie Katha during the interaction session with Media at the Bengaluru international Film Festival in Bengaluru on Monday.
Photo: Sampath Kumar G P

Bengaluru Karnataka 06/02/2017 Prashant Rosaily Director of the movie Katha during the interaction session with Media at the Bengaluru international Film Festival in Bengaluru on Monday. Photo: Sampath Kumar G P   | Photo Credit: G_P_Sampath Kumar

 

His Gorkhali film Kathaa happened quite casually in 2012. "I was at home one day doing nothing and friends came home and we wanted to make a film using some music. I started with a track from The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Then my brother started playing a track from Cinema Paradiso. We were shooting a horror film but because the music changed, I made a love story. We made the film over 14 days."

Prashant says he used to watch a lot of films when he was younger, but now he's largely in a world of his own imagination. "I'm completely lost. I make films, but I don't know why I make films...it just comes out. I've completed three films without a script. I don't believe in scripts. When you go to a place and start shooting, you'll find more than what you are looking for," he says very confidently.

With a strong spirit of filmmaking
 

There are two theatres in the whole of Sikkim. "The language advantage for me is Gorkhali or Nepalese is spoken all over Sikkim, but there's the whole of Nepal also as audience. Plus the Nepalese have spread all over the world so I have a market wherever they are..."

Young people in Sikkim watch movies on the internet, on Tv and sometimes in theatres, he says. "They seem to like commercial Tamil cinema because of all the action sequences. Sikkimese people seem to be fine watching movies. They don't seem to want to tell their stories. They are lost in their gadgets and social networking," he sadly concludes.

Bobby Sarma Baruah, Assam

Film: Sonar Baran Pakhi

Language: Rajbanshi

This is Bobby's second film, and is based on the life of the famous folk singer Pratima Barua Pandey who has dedicated her life to Goalparia folk song tradition.

With a strong spirit of filmmaking
 

"My intent with making this film is to preserve the language, which is spoken by very few people in Bengal. This is not my mother tongue. I researched the subject for two years before making the film," says Bobby.

The north east has so many subject and resources it's sad that people within India don't know much about us, she laments. "I'm currently doing my PhD in film studies on folk culture in cinema. As a woman filmmaker it's a struggle for me to market my films. There is no guidance on that front...I always wonder 'Where should I go so that people from outside India also get to know about regional Indian cinema," she says in great frustration. Her film has been to seven international film festivals so far. " for serious films like mine, unfortunately the only audience are at film festivals," she declares.

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Printable version | Apr 4, 2020 4:26:47 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/With-a-strong-spirit-of-filmmaking/article17282659.ece

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