Filmmaker Pawan Kumar on setting up a website to support the Kannada film industry’s daily-wagers

The 'Lucia' director also has an autobiographical podcast series, and most recently, a YouTube workshop on film production

Pawan Kumar has tweeted more in the last two months than he did in the last two years. During this period, he set up an online platform to support Kannada film industry’s daily-wage workers, an autobiographical podcast series, and, most recently, a YouTube workshop on film production.

“I feel like I am working more now than I did pre-lockdown,” says Pawan, “On some days, I am up at five in the morning and my brain is super-active and ready to go.”

The COVID-19 situation, like for most people in the world, is unprecedented for Pawan. But the resultant isolation is not unusual for him. “I have been trained to live like this,” he laughs. Over a decade ago, for several months after quitting Engineering, he sat at home and merely watched the bustle of others’ lives. Sometimes, he writes scripts in seclusion. “Throughout my career, I have experienced lockdown.”

Pawan reckons he has “a problem of wanting to fix things”. He would sometimes seek friends in difficulty just so he could help them. With the pandemic, he now had the whole world to fix.

“When the lockdown was announced, I reinstalled the social media apps on my phone. I just wanted to show how a lot can be done by sitting at home.”

A fixation for fixing

He started with a fundraiser (of ₹14 lakh) for the daily-wage earners in the Kannada film industry. “There were a few hassles in transferring the money to many people at once. And, people wanted to know if their donations reached the workers.” So, he came up with a new platform, which displays the worker’s name, age, work experience, union, and the UPI ID.

He also found a slightly distant problem to address. “A lot of the audience don’t have an idea of how the [Kannada film] industry works. Most of them think that everyone associated with films makes a lot of money. That’s probably why they don’t consider piracy a serious issue. So, I wanted to talk about film production in Kannada cinema.” The seven-video series on YouTube, which he made in 10 days, are also lessons for aspiring filmmakers.

Pawan also has a podcast series called ‘Lockdown Tapes’, wherein he shares several interesting episodes from his life. He shares one of them: “In 2004, I was called for an interview at IBM. I’d done theatre for a while and it didn’t work out. So, I thought of quitting it and taking up an IT job. But on the morning of the interview, a person, who’d read a newspaper article about me, called to say ‘Reading about your life reminded me of my younger days. Now I am stuck in a job that I don’t like.’ I don’t know who he was but that call meant a lot to me.”

Despite devoting most of his time to the afore-mentioned online projects, he also came up with ideas for two short films. “It can be shot at home, with me, my wife and my daughter. But we needed another person to handle the camera. And, my DOP couldn’t travel because of the lockdown. Maybe we’ll execute these ideas in future.”

More than conceiving new scripts, Pawan’s contemplating the nature of films after lockdown. “A lot of the average film-goers have started watching international standard content on OTT platforms. So, the quality of storytelling in our films should improve when everything is back on track.”

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Printable version | May 27, 2020 3:25:50 AM |

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