Sharing my first short film “The Cemetery”

The_Cemetery-poster1

Making a short film amid a host of odds and still enjoying every moment of the journey is probably the most enriching memory that I have for my first short film. With some due accolades from the international film festivals and a prime time telecast in one of the major national channels in India, “The Cemetery” has come a long way.

 

I am sharing this for those who have missed it and for those who would like to watch something different from the regular films they are subjected to. So, here you go… Do share your feedback and leave your comments.

 

Please RATE my film on IMDb simply by clicking on the button below:
The Cemetery (2014) on IMDb

5 Reasons why should you watch this film:

  1. Captured in the backdrop of the oldest colonial cemetery of South East Asia, The Cemetery is a short film depicting a timepiece of human behavior in solitude and distress. It is an example of my understanding of an attempted relationship that culminates with a subtle understanding of human feelings.
  2. The film was showcased by NDTV Prime which narrates a surreal story about a woman and an old man and their chance encounter in one of the colonial cemeteries in Calcutta.
  3. The film is devoid of dialogues; however a soothing music accompanied by a solemn narration takes the story ahead.
  4. Watch out Barun Chanda in a very different character as he plays a visitor and a story seeker in The Cemetery. He along with Tanusree Chakraborty who plays Carol pulls out amazing performances to justify this otherwise alternative attempt to capture unsaid or indescribable human emotions.
  5. The Cemetery was selected as an official entry in the prestigious Worcestershire Film Festival and was applauded for being one of the most poetic and musically enriching films in the festival.

 

The poignant evolution of short film making in India

Empty-red-cinema-seats

Short films or ‘shorts’ can be quite disruptive in terms of what is qualified as a movie in the recent times. All of you who form the casual yet informed independent film audience and are somewhat aware of a few successful titles may have a different opinion. However, the definitions with which short films are surfacing the social media pages in the recent times actually devalue one of the world’s premier artistic mediums. Albeit there is no law that can dictate a film’s length and the fact that the idea of feature films emerged just to meet a commercial need is hardly acknowledged. So, do you think, I am complaining?

 

Unfortunately, short films are treated like demos and EPs in the world of music. Just as the cost of recording a 10 or 12 songs for an album may be too high for an up-and-coming band to pay for them, the cost of creating a feature-length film can be far too much for an up-and-coming director and crew. Therefore, self-obsessed artists (some self-motivated as well) resolve to shorter forms of story-telling to prove a point to the studios, producers or individual donors (a link of perennial importance for the indie scene). But, how far can they take the financially crippled indie film scene?

 

I see no hypocrisy in it, but I beg to differ in my approach. Storytelling is at a premium when it comes to shorts. So, why tell a story the way they are told in feature-length films? With a formula that keeps ringing and making us cautious of what is not comfortable for a story – shorts will soon lose fall prey to further commercialization. The hypocrisy lies in the fact that, shorts are not encouraged as an independent form of art where stories can be presented without caring about the comfort zone of the regular cine-goers. Although the recent excitement among the so-called enthusiasts might give you different idea, it is imperative to understand the ground reality…

short-films-featured-image

You might imagine that with the advent of digital film making, the entry barriers to film-making have collapsed. Anyone can shoot full-spec HD video on a phone, upload it to a waiting website, and build an instant audience through social media. Consequently, you might have also thought all this would inevitably have brought the short film roaring back, to tower over the entertainment landscape. But it hasn’t. Will you blame the medium or the scope that the medium is still seeking?

 

The counter arguments can be examples like Sujoy Ghosh’s “Ahalya” or Anurag Kashyap’s “A day after everyday” along with a few others. It’s not true that shorts are not around, but the concern is the liberty of expression of those short film makers who would like to take an alternate corridor. Audience can embrace or reject a film only after the film gets a fair chance or visibility. The way, it is done out here in our country is quite a regressive one to say the least. Film enthusiasts rely on a comforting explanation to help their grey matter respond to the metaphorical implications portrayed in the film. How selfishly comfortable! And thus the quality of work is yet to evolve even after so much of noise on the development of film making.

 

Well, to assume that this blog vents out frustration might be an easier option, however, let me just underline the purpose or agenda behind putting these words together in the form of a blog. I am well-aware of the limited resources and perceptive ability of our audience.

 

In the age of digital transparency where every average individual is aware of YouTube, Vimeo, iTunes and many other video streaming sites, watching a short film should not be a problem. To claim that can make you sound stupid! However, why don’t more people watch short films? Short films were instrumental in launching the careers of directors like Ken Russel and Ridley Scott. Then why? If you ask a regular multiplex audience why they don’t watch short films, you tend to get similar replies: they are not worth watching!

Empty-red-cinema-seats

So, the answer lies within you – the audience. The audience who would criticize a sub-standard film over technical and aesthetic grounds and at the same time rejects a short film for being uncomfortably unusual. Where is the space of experimenting? Where is the urge to create a demand for stories that have the guts to walk down the not-so-comfortable paths?

 

To close this very personal concern about the evolution of short films, let us put this entire genus for students to learn and ambitious film makers to experiment. The rest of us can carry on ignoring the existence of short films and its immense potential as a medium of audio-visual expression.

 

I’m sure there will be many of you who would like to state a different opinion, why don’t we keep the argument alive?

Uncovering the allegory behind B-Minor

B-Minor_cover

There is something amazing about making short films – you nearly tend to depend on accidents for good things to happen! My second short film B-Minor is no exception!

While we are meticulously working on the post production, I thought of uncovering the allegory behind B-Minor…

B-Minor-still

If you ask me about the story: A young, blind guitarist, Theo, comes to a city to find his fortune. Albeit, he is praised for his genius, there is something more that he does than just playing with the six strings. His only mate, Ana, whom he kind-of trust meets him at a restaurant where they both exchange uneasy confessions long-awaited. On that very night, before Theo plans to leave the city, he visits an old acquaintance to pick up his guitar and bid him a last adieu.

An unexpected and ruthless melodic twist awaits his final visit…

Film Name: B-Minor

Genre: Thriller/Drama

Run time: Less than 15 mins

Like the Facebook page of B-Minor Facebook page to know more…

How the Academy saved APU from oblivion!

SR (23)

The Academy recently shared a video showing how they restored the legendary Apu-trilogy by Oscar recipient Satyajit Ray. The Academy Film Archive started the preservation project post the 64th Academy Awards in 1992, when Ray received the Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to world cinema. So, it took more than 20 years for the team at work… Incredible! Isn’t it?

The process was rigorous and the endeavor is worth a standing ovation!

Subir Banerjee plays the young Apu

Subir Banerjee plays the young Apu

The three films Pather Panchali (Song of the Little Road), Aparajito (The Unvanquished), and Apur Sansar (The World of Apu) — based on two books by Bibhutibhusan Banerjee changed the paradigm of Indian cinema to say the least. Albeit all the challenges such as mangled film reels to missing and beaten-up clip sections, the restoration team reinstated something that marked the uprising of Indian cinema in true sense.

 

This humble post is a signature of gratitude to all those people who put in their efforts to preserve one of the classics of international cinema. All said and done, you must watch this short video which they called, ‘An act of faith – saving the Apu trilogy’ and I am sure you will second my thoughts that will follow…

 

Ray received an academy award and he is lucky that his works are reciprocated with the same honor received by his western counterparts. However, are we equally concerned about the preservation of classics from other film makers from India who equally contributed to the developing finesse Indian film art?

 

Although there are efforts from Shivendra Singh Dungarpur who formed the Film Heritage Foundation, there is still a lot to achieve and the efforts from the Academy Film Archive and The Criterion Collection, and L’Immagine Ritrovata speaks volumes about that.

 

Signing off from the desk of mymotionpicture with the hope that the classics from veterans like Bimal Roy, Ritwik Ghatak, Mrinal Sen and the likes receives the same treatment in the near future!

Faces from Vietnam and some tiny tales…

boatman_and_she

One of the greatest casualties of the war in Vietnam is the Great Society… shot down on the battlefield of Vietnam.
-Martin Luther King, Jr.

I see the eyes that still have the courage to dream, I see the tired smile that still hopes for a better tomorrow….

kid_red

‘She’, Cai Be Island, Mekong

Tiny tales from Vietnam #1: While the World was busy making gun powder, she was trying to make rice wafers for the widows of martyrs who will consume the bullets!

Rice_wafers

Cai Be Island, Mekong

The object of my relationship with Vietnam has been to heal the wounds that exist, particularly among our veterans, and to move forward with a positive relationship,… Apparently some in the Vietnamese government don’t want to do that and that’s their decision.
-Ho Chi Minh

on_the_way_2_Mekon

On the way to Tian Giang

Tiny tales from Vietnam #2: When hunger begged mercy, friends promised fruits for foes…

fruit_seller

Mobile fruit seller, Cai Be Island, Mekong

I was proud of the youths who opposed the war in Vietnam because they were my babies.
– Benjamin Spock

boatman_and_she

Gondolas, Ho Chi Minh City canal

Tiny tales from Vietnam #3:  He will rather buy a guitar and not a gun for his son…

Father_Son

Father and son, Cai Be Island, Mekong

Now we have a problem in making our power credible, and Vietnam is the place.
– John F. Kennedy, 1961

Musicians

6 Strings and 1 string, Cai Be Island, Mekong

Tiny tales from Vietnam #4: When they decided to sit and smile with love, peace threatened war! At the Walking street of Ho Chi Minh City.

couple

Late night lovers, Ho Chi Minh City

I see light at the end of the tunnel.
– Walt W. Rostow, National Security Adviser, Dec. 1967

Tien_Giang_beauties

The boss and her staff – Tian Giang

Tiny tales from Vietnam #5: A fruit seller of the floating market on the Mekong River; coconut water is free if you buy a dozen of bananas from her!

floating_coconut_seller

Floating market, Mekong River

We believe that peace is at hand.
– Henry Kissinger, Oct. 1972

post-card_sellers

Postcards please. $1 – Cai Be Island, Mekong

Tiny tales from Vietnam #6: She knew the value of education, she comes to teach the kids in the Cai Be Island (Mekong Delta) all the way from Ho Chi Minh City; everyday…

teacher

The Teacher, Cai Be Island, Mekong

I think Operation Smile is in more than 22 countries, mostly Third World. It just happened that my schedule opened up at the time they were heading to Vietnam.
– Roma Downey

coconut_roof

Coconut Roof makers of Cai Be Island, Mekong

Tiny tales from Vietnam #7: She played to the audience, she didn’t listen to their remarks, she played to music lovers – just now she opens her eyes…

her_flute

A musician in Ho Chi Minh City

Television brought the brutality of war into the comfort of the living room. Vietnam was lost in the living rooms of America–not on the battlefields of Vietnam.
– Marshall McLuhan, 1975

Guide

Frank, the Guide in Cai Be Island, Mekong

Tiny tales from Vietnam #8: They want to touch the sky as well; like your son and daughters do. They demand a better living!

3-kids

Siblings from the Cai Be Island, Mekong

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!
– IF, Rudyard Kipling

perspective

Two sisters, Ho Chi Minh City

Tiny tales from Vietnam #9: His wife asked him to paint for food, he asked his wife to be the model for love!

Painter

A street painter at Ho Chi Minh City…

Vietnam was what we had instead of happy childhoods.
– Michael Herr, 1977

my_darling

Poppy rice and honey tea joint, Cai Be Island, Mekong

Tiny tales from Vietnam #10: When the world slept, she would pack chocolates for living and read Tintin comics; the only thing that makes her laugh in solitude!

The_shopkeeper

Chocolate seller, Cai Be Island, Mekong

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.

– The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost

rice_poppers

A local house in Cai Be Island, Mekong

Tiny tales from Vietnam #11: He said, “Red means so much more than blood and communism…”

jewellery_man

Cai Be Island, Mekong

A humble attempt to capture some of the faces from Vietnam while I spent a week in Ho Chi Minh City and travelled to the Tian Giang and the Cai Be Island of the Mekong Delta! There are stories behind all those faces and the stories gave me a simultaneous rush of hope and depression… Sharing a few with fellow bloggers and readers!

Signing off from the desk of mymotionpicture, bidding a fond adieu to this mystic land of ‘endless charm’…

Asha Jaoar Majhe inspires the ‘Labour of Love’ for good cinema

ASHA-JAOAR-MAJHE-5

Labour of Love – If that is the English title of the film Asha Jaoar Majhe, it is equally justified. I have lived almost another 24 hours since I saw her walking past those mystic by-lanes of Calcutta, the film was getting over, but my longing to see them meet for another cup of tea is very intense still now!  I can’t imagine anyone ignore the deep-rooted melancholy hidden behind those stoic faces longing for a moment of sublime togetherness. No wonder why the film had so much of international recognition! The film celebrated love in the simplest of forms yet reaching out to an emotional level which will always flirt with the definition of happiness in the most contemporary outlook! Splendidly portrayed and magnificently executed, Aditya Vikram Sengupta deserves all the accolades bestowed on him! Here is my humble take on the film, Asha Jaoar Majhe…

 

7 reasons why you should watch ‘Asha Jaoar Majhe’

Screenplay: Apart from the very intricately written text, I can imagine a number of sketches. The story was effortless yet intriguing. It explored the incessant struggle of a dyed-in-the-wool couple fighting for survival during the recession days in a metropolitan city. The effortless disposition of pain (read labour) to spend a few moments of heavenly togetherness came from the essence of the screenplay. Very distinctive with the likes of the Iranian cinema of the recent past, the script of Asha Jaoar Majhe tried to conserve its Bengali flavour quite specifically. The film has no dialogue the characters don’t even have a name making it all the more fascinating for any inquisitive film buff. In a nut-shell, a very out of the box effort given the scenario of ambitious films released every week!

Asha Jaoar Majhe bagged Best Original Screenplay award from New York Indian Film Festival.

ASHA-JAOAR-MAJHE-4

Sound Design: Labour of Love was uniformly shaped with a very delicate and apposite sound designing. Only a person with a keen ear can listen to the deep-rooted sounds of an everyday life and bring them so naturally on the celluloid. From the monotony of an old ceiling fan to the spirituality of a Bengali evening, from the disturbances of an untimely water pump to the amateurish efforts of a child singer in the neighbourhood – every scene tried to tell a story of its own. The world is not quite quiet even for the loneliest soul; the film illustrates that rather uniquely. The film demands patience, but once you are in the groove it will not test your patience. Rather the sound sequences coupled with the grey frames of a seldom seen Calcutta will take you to a different time. For me the tram bells will ring, the revolution against joblessness will continue, the yearning for being together will again express itself through a radio from a distant land and the sound of unspoiled love will echo in my ears for quite sometime.

Asha Jaoar Majhe bagged Best Audiography award from the 62nd National Film Awards (India)

ASHA-JAOAR-MAJHE-6

Cinematography: Initially, Mahendra J. Shetty was doing the camera for Labour of Love and then when he became unavailable, the director took the camera himself. It is quite obvious, that the long shots, the subtle time-lapses, the unusual positioning of camera was well planned; however, the scenes never let the soul of the film go haywire. Every frame depicted an honest minimalism in terms of its composition. Be it the evaporating footprints on the floor, the dawdling sunset or the hurried paddling of the bicycle, every scene portrayed a very integral part of the story. The feat was really amazing and again I have to congratulate the captain of the ship.

ASHA-JAOAR-MAJHE-2

Acting: Ritwick Chakraborty is now probably the most favourite actor for niche film makers. He adds a flavour to all the films he has been a part of. Be it Shobdo by Kaushik Ganguli or Bakita Byaktigato by Pradipta Bhattacharyya, he has made it a habit of winning a national award for his director. His mannerism as a longing husband and his well-timed subtle expressions added a very unique hue to the entire film. He made me curious with very simple actions and the culminating scene of the film demands a special mention! On the other hand, playing the better half of Ritwick, Basabdatta Chatterjee played the character epitomising affection and endurance amid a lot of unsaid challenges. She looked very elegant and poised in every scene of the film and reciprocated her partner beautifully. Credit should go to the Executive Producer for choosing the acting couple so prudently. I congratulate Basabdatta for her efforts and wish her all the luck in the near future.

ASHA-JAOAR-MAJHE-3

Editing: The editing process took almost a year for Aditya as per an interview published in a reputed daily. Quite responsibly, Sengupta made it sure that the entire effort of production does not go for a toss when he sat for the post production. The way Aditya composed the film, I must thank the clear mind he had and the sincere and candid language he tried to follow. Not a single frame in the film looked forced or incongruent to the flow of the story. Thus the editing made the entire film look even more humble yet appealing to the global audience. All those brain storming hours spent with all those raw rush footage now reaping true dividends.

Aditya-Vikram-Sengupta

Direction: I would say Asha Jaoar Majhe is completely a director’s film. The way he used unusual long shots to describe every small detail of a couple’s unworldly existence was truly not very uncommon for global film viewers. However, the present trend of quick entertainment has snatched away the valour from directors of our so-called industry. But the brilliance of the director of this film was his execution. He created a cosy, silent and slow illusion with a brilliant audio-visual chemistry. It is very obvious that his demands were much higher as far as the final product is concerned but to say the least, the dream or the vision for a film like this should be hailed with a standing ovation. I am sure, Aditya will not be concerned with the box office outcome after so much has been said and achieved. Dear friend, you have instilled hope in the hearts of many a directors in the country who wants their coffee and films their way! Cheers to the current success with the hope to see more effortless films like Labour of Love.

Asha Jaoar Majhe bagged awards for its direction from:

  • Indira Gandhi Award for Best First Film – 62nd National Film Awards (India)
  • Best Director – New York Indian Film Festival
  • Best Director of a Debut Film – 71st Venice International Film Festival (Venice Days)
  • Best Director – Marrakech International Film Festival

ASHA-JAOAR-MAJHE-7

The seventh reason that I would impose on you as an audience who crave for good cinema is that Asha Jaoar Majhe is a kind of film that you will not get to see very often in India. Unless we take time and be more vocal in the support of films like Masan, Killa or Labour of Love in India, film making will stay behind as an industry that will keep producing films like grocery or toiletries. Asha Jaoar Majhe demands an attention by virtue of its cinematic brilliance and not by means of flashy hoardings, greedy stars or costly advertisements.

Asha Jaoar Majhe also bagged accolades such as:

  • Abu Dhabi Film Festival – Jury Special Mention
  • BFI London Film Festival – Honorable Mention
  • Bangalore International Film Festival – NETPAC Award for Best Asian Film
  • Jaipur International Film Festival – Best Feature Film

 

Signing off from the desk of mymotionpicture until my city soaks in the labour of love for good cinema…