Monday, November 25, 2013

Fake trailer of The Bankrupts (Haal-E-Kangaal)

This is a fake trailer (3.35 mins) is made by two filmmakers Tripurari Gupta and Lokesh Sharma; for a film called THE BANKRUPTS (HAAL-E-KANGAAL), in which they have themselves acted. Details of the film 118 minutes Hindi / EST / India. Cast: Niraj Sah, Hemant Mahaur Associate Director: Suresh Gujar Sound: Santosh Kumar DOP: Narayanan Venkataraman Writer, Director, Editor: Ramchandra PN

If you are looking to arrange a screening for your club / college / house / office
please click

Friday, May 17, 2013

Teaser of my latest fiction feature film 'The Bankrupts' (Haal-E-Kangaal)

Production details: 118 Minutes / Hindi / India / 2013 / English Subtitles
Synopsis: Two filmmakers meet after a gap of fifteen years but struggle to shred away their uncomfortable common past.
Cast: Niraj Sah, Hemant Mahaur
Associate Director: Suresh Gujar
Hindi Dialogues: Niraj Sah
Producer: Sushma PN
Location Sound: Santosh Kumar
Cameraman: Narayanan Venkatramanan
Story, Screenplay, Direction: Ramchandra PN

If you are looking to arrange a screening for your club / college / house / office
please click

Monday, May 06, 2013

The personal and the professional.

The schedule at the 'Manipal Film Festival', 2013

The subject matters of many of my films are often based in the state of Karnataka in South India. I should admit that there is an ulterior motive here. The idea was that it would enable me to squeeze in a quick trip to Udupi, the town in which I grew up, to visit my parents who were staying alone. In the 1990s I was extensively involved in the non fiction tele-serial ‘Surabhi’, and for quite a while although based in Mumbai, I was the ‘Karnataka man’ in the organization. Anything that was to be done in that state, and I was the chosen one. It was my right, so to say.

I have been in Mumbai for over twenty two years and all these years I always did feel the need to maintain this connection. With both my parents having expired in quick secession a couple of years back, it did occur to me on several occasions as to how long this connection would last. I have been looking at subjects from other parts of the country for my films – in the Sundarbans, in the Little Runn of Kutch etc. A friend stays for a nominal rent in the house that my parents painstakingly built; lest it decays unused. Although there are cousins staying there, my sister, who also is Mumbai based, joked recently that the only reason to go to Udupi seems to be to upgrade one’s old unused bank account passbooks.

Manipal is five kilometers from Udupi. One recounts the childhood fear of going to and being in the Tiger Circle, the main junction of this educational center, all alone because I was told that a Tiger was spotted there long ago. Manipal was as much a home to me as Udupi was. Riding up the hill of Manipal in a cycle was as much an adventure as bunking college classes to see Sai Paranjape’s ‘Chasme Badhoor’; four times in two days.

When the Manipal Institute of Communication of the Manipal University invited me to hold a small workshop in the film festival that they held recently, I was pleasantly surprised - pleasant because the films included were ranging from ‘Ghatashraddha’ to ‘Sholay’ to ‘Shankarabharanam’ to ‘Shree 420’ to ‘Usatad Hotel’ to ‘Gol Maal’ and surprised because my documentary film ‘BV Karnath: Baba’ too was squeezed in. I guess I have the Baba himself to thank.

I did feel a bit odd that having come to Udupi, my own bastion, I was staying in a hotel in Manipal and not in my own house at Udupi. It was my head quarters in Karnataka for quite a number of years, maybe no longer now. Within the cozy confines of the hotel I did create a story in my mind that I am indeed starting to lose the connection; or maybe staying in a hotel in Manipal is an initial sign of it.

There were times when I used to land up at home in Udupi at midnight and knock the door, as if demanding an entry. Later on, as my parents grew old and fragile, there were also times when I had reached home at four in the morning after a grueling shooting elsewhere in Karnataka and having quietly waited in the portico till dawn before ringing the bell. It was also by right that I used to tell them that I had just arrived and that the bus got late or some such reason that they readily believed. Such were the joys of going to and being in Udupi.

This time around the joy was in the rediscovery of some films that I had seen multiple times; and the discussions that followed. The ‘Manipal Film Festival’ is organized as an exercise by the students of the event management course. They could have organized any other event – a fashion show for example – but every year thanks to the committed vision of their director Varadesh Hiregange they choose organising a Film Festival. The Festival itself was coordinated by the energetic HS Shubha. I had an opportunity to hear from and interact, for the first time, with Manu Chakravarthy, the no nonsense critic whose discourses on films in its socio-culture context is well known. And then there was Phaniraj battling hard for the Mainstream Indian Cinema calling them as indicators (or was it indexes?) of major political and social events that have unfolded in India over the years.

But the film that foxed me the most was K Vishwanath’s ‘Shankarabharanam’. I had liked it when I had seen it in my pre-film school days, had liked it when it was screened at the film school on a Sunday morning and continued to like it when it was screened at the ‘Manipal Film Festival’. Everything about the film is about a commitment towards classical music, I screamed at the students at the discussion after the screening. They agreed, or at least I thought that they did so.

I quoted on how the musical maestro Shankar Shastry took every decision in his personal life in relation to his music. He braved the wrath of the casteist society when he gives refuge to a daughter of a prostitute in his traditional house, not only because she has been wronged upon, but also because she directly connects with him through his music. He agrees to an alliance to his daughter only when he realsies that the groom is seriously perusing classical music. And in the end he symbolically hands over, so to say, his musical tradition to the prostitute’s son, who is learning music under his tutelage, by gifting him his precious anklet that was bestowed upon him for his musical genius. The personal seem to play with the professional and visa verse.

And then at the hotel in the night, as I was tossing around the bed, it suddenly occurred to me that he could have given the anklet to the prostitute’s daughter or to even his own daughter too; they were as capable as his young male disciple in their musical skills, if not more. But he had not. The young male kid was the chosen one, as if by right. The whole film was designed in such a way that the anklet goes to this young male kid. Everyone and everything in the film worked for that purpose. Shankar Sastry was a patriarch and his legacy would be carried forward by this young boy who will also soon become one. Continuation of the patriarchal system is as much the theme of the film as music is.

The director had indeed foxed me or maybe I should say I let the director fox me. Strangely after this ‘realsiation’, so to say, I was at ease with myself. The confines of the cozy hotel room that hitherto seemed uncomfortable suddenly became less alien. I was at home. There are no more tigers in Manipal these days. Now that my parents are dead and gone, they would never know that I lied to them about waiting in the portico. Cool. I slept like a log and took the next day’s flight back to Mumbai, to my own little home.

As they say, the home is where your mind is.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

When Dr. Varghese could not cast his vote...

Shankarghatta - a view from the university
My lectures at the Mass Communication Department at the Kuvempu University fell on the City Municipality Elections voting day in Karnataka. The University itself is named after Late K.V. Putappa (Kuvempu) considered as one of the fathers of Modern Kannada literature and is situated at Shankargatta, a small town on the outskirts of a reserved forest area that is around 45 minutes drive away from the city of Shimogga.
Well, Shimogga is Mr. B. S. Yeddyurappa's constituency and Yeddyurappa's stories on corruption  cases are well known. The land that he owns right on the Shimogga-Shankarghatta road along with a 'few lkilometer long' compound wall that is attached to it forms a prominent part in the 'things to see' list and that the housing rent at Shimogga doubled to Rs. 3,000/- for a three boredom house as soon as Mr. Yeddyurappa became the Chief Minister of the State of Karnataka forms a prominent part in the 'things to know' list when one visits Shankarghatta.
I was also told that during the last elections running rate for a voter to vote for a candidate was Rs 1,000. Since there was no guarantee that the voter who took the money actually voted for the person or party who gave the money, this time around the rumor was that the voter had to deposit his Election Card after receiving the money. Somebody will cast his vote and give him back his card.
Since I am a practicing film maker and mine was a 'Special Lecture' on 'Film Theory and Documentary Film making', the non teaching staff of the Mass Communication Department were, as a preemptive measure, asked by it's Department Head Dr. D. S. Poornananda to cast their vote quite early in the morning and then report to work - lest they treat, by default, the day as a holiday 'on account of national duty'.
The teaching staff though were excited to see me, as I had been there before. During lunch time, Dr. P. A. Varghese, Associate Professor, sheepishly told me that he had to leave, as he and his wife had to cast their votes in Shimogga. Dr. Varghese is originally from Kerala and he had completed his Ph.D. from the University of Philippines. Off late he has made Shimogga his base as he got a posting in Kuvempu University.
The next morning when Dr. Varghese came to the Department, I sensed that he was a depressed man. His colleagues too collaborated on me. It did not take deep probing to know the reason. He and his wife had apparently stood in the voting que for quite a long time, only to be told when their turn came that their voting rights had already been exercised - this despite both of them providing valid election cards.
Every one around in the staff room were aghast in disbelief. 'How did it happen?', said one. 'How could you have let it happen', said another. 'You should have lodged a complaint', I suggested in concern. 'I did have an argument with them, but the lady in question was almost in tears as she begged not to lodge a complaint because her career might be at stake', he replied.
'It is obvious that your votes have been misused', added Dr. Poornananda. 'And if you show such sympathy how will corruption end? By not lodging a complaint, you too have been complicit in the crime', he stressed adding salt to his wounds. I thought he has a mischievous glee in his eye, much to the discomfort and embarrassment of Dr. Varghese.
It was a similar sort of glee that I had seen in the town of Tezu in the far off Arunachal Pradesh where I had been recently when a person belonging to the Mishimi Tribal Community mischievously asked me if I am from the same clan as Mr. Yeddyurappa. Google tells me that Tezu is 3,654 Kilometers away from Shimogga - but you bet news travels fast. It was obvious that he was well versed with the 'Yeddi stories'.
Well, the next time I go to Tezu if nothing else, atleast I can boast back that I have seen the 'many kilometer long' iconic Mr. Yeddyurappa compound wall near Shankarghatta.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Why we exist?

I was in Pune last week to conduct a six days short film making workshop for the TV direction students at my Alma Mater, The Film and TV Institute of India. Ravi Dawala, who was facilitating the workshop, and I interacted a lot during this period. We discussed about a host of topics which included amongst other things - the Big Bang theory, Stephen Hawking, the grand design, atoms etc…

We also dealt with the question of making independent self funded films - like the one I am presently working on called Haal-e-Kangaal' (The Bankrupts) and the difficulty of finding an audience for such films, when we are not going through the mainstream distribution system. All of a sudden Ravi asked me a question, ‘Why are you making the film that you are making?'

For a second I was speechless. Why was I making films at all?

And then I said, ‘I have made the films that I have made because I have said that I would make them. Now, after having said so, if I had not made those those films, I would have been restless and incomplete.’
‘I also feel restless, if I am not making anything,’ nodded Ravi. He is in the process of completing the shooting of his first feature film, also shot independently and self funded.
Later on, when alone, another question arose. Why did I ever tell myself and others that I will make films?
It is like asking if anything existed before the big bang or for what purpose did the big bang happen or why does the magnetic or the gravitational force exist at all?
I ’ll leave it at that – I make films because I said so. 
A Google search got me this quote by Stephen Hawking - Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the Universe exists, why we exist.

The workshop at Pune