Covid Nirvana !!!




Though I have always fathomed myself as an eager digital migrant,  like some of us from my generation I have been in the fumbling mode while grappling with possibilities that this medium holds. The medium has empowered me in the making of all sort of independent movies which otherwise I would have found it difficult to create and produce in an previous era.

The one pertinent aspect of digital movie making is that it is democratic in nature - in the sense that you don't have to necessarily depend on the exhibitor - distributor lobby to raise funds to make them. Today anyone in any remote part of the country having access to affordable machines and tools can make a movie; unlike before where one had to physically shift to select film making centers like Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Bangalore or Hyderabad to make movies.

But it is the second aspect of the medium whose dynamics is what I have been trying to grapple with over the years, I am sure some of my independent moviemaking colleagues would have also gone through / are in a similar kind of existence. It is the aspect that relates to the medium's supposed ability to facilitate large scale dissemination of our work. 

Having been brought up in believing the virtues of community watching of movies as an ideal form of dissemination of works (not just the conventional theater screens), the inherent nature of the digital transmission is more suited to individual viewing - you can watch a movie on the go and in your palm. Also, as while reading a book the movie viewing individuals have the possibility to easily go back or forward before coming back to the point that there were in. They can even stop the movie and pick it up at a later time.

Notably, with the internet shoving up a plethora of information at us and with the limited time that we have with us, our attention span too gets reduced by that much. Therefore we have captions like '2 minute' read before articles, therefore the popularity of the ten second videos or therefore the inundation of pieces on 'ten best places to visit this summer' or 'five best movies to see before you die' and the likes. And above all, we still have to figure out that elusive thing called algorithms.

How would the above mentioned aspects alter the way I make my movies? Movie making is linear in time. That is the way we have known it hitherto, ingrained into our blood streams. With changing equations of digitization, how does the aesthetics change? I am sure my colleagues too, like me, are dealing with such issues in their own way and are coming up with some synthesis.

It would be interesting to see as to what shapes our movies would eventually take - if the idea is to go beyond the populist forms like cookery capsules, the how to do it stuff, funny memes (I love some of them), porn, short news reporting, family showcase videos and the works. It is a work in progress and I am yet to figure out my path in this.

Coming back to dissemination, while I have less control over the movies that I have directed for others, I certainly am empowered with the ones that I have produced myself. One of the old habits that we movie makers have while dealing with digitization is to upload our movies onto the net with a password, primarily to facilitate the movie's participation at film festivals that don't want entries that are already out there on the net. Film festivals sure gives some visibility to our movies, I would also like to re-think the purposes of holding such events, especially in a post Covid19 world. 

Yes, it is now time to come to Covid19. The unprecedented once in a life time lock-down it has caused had forced us to sit back at home, at least for those who have one, and reflect on what life and work has been till now and would be in a post Covid19 scenario. As such we have collectively been fearing about the possibility of closure of all movie screens in the days to come, thanks to the internet. Well that day has come. I am now forced to see the value of the experience that individual movie watching brings with it.    

I do realize now that I was holding on to my movies, not letting it be out there, by the virtue of hiding it behind a password. I am also inclined to believe that pay by view approach on the net restricts access to movies. Many platforms have shifted / are shifting to a lesser restrictive subscription base model - many don't feel it necessary to have a transparent process that is a win-win for all - even for the independent movie maker. I increasingly find the 'pay if you find value'  unrestricted in nature; a model that works for Wikipedia.

I therefore, as a start and a part of my Covid Nirvana syndrome, am letting go of one of my movies the details of which are below. Damn the password! The movie is not a short and is not made in accordance with the aesthetics of the digital medium - the details of which I am still figuring out. But I promise you that it will be engaging, if you are willing to engage with it.


Name of the movie: The Bankrupts (Haal-E-Kangaal)
                                                                   
Language: Hindi with English subtitles
Duration: 105 minutes
Cast: Niraj Sah, Hemant Mahaur
Visual Consultant (Post) Malay Roy
Mixing Supervisor: Boby John
Director of Photography: Narayanan Venkatraman
Sound Recordist & Designer: Santosh Kumar
Screenplay, Direction, Editing: Ramchandra PN
Producers: Sushma PN, Ramchandra PN

Synopsis: Two filmmaker friends meet after fourteen years to spend a span of eight to ten hours together. As they celebrate the re-union, one narrates a story of a possible film to another. But soon, as the secession turns into a game of one up-man-ship their bizarre past catches up with them central to this is the fatherhood of a fourteen year old girl!  The duo by the end realise that they are as bankrupt as ever, in all sense of the word.

Director's note: When producers were hard to come by after my first two fiction features, this self funded low cost movie was conceived as a chamber movie - set in a restricted space with two characters. It was a challenge to go beyond the space and time that is physically and restrictively been depicted on the frame. Having seen many independent filmmaker friends struggle to make the movies that they really wanted to make, I reflect on my own profession - the genesis of which is the fundamental question of the ability to create something 'worthwhile'.

About the Director: Ramchandra PN is Film School graduate who has been making documentaries, features, short films and TV programs; and is occasionally involved with cinema academics. His first feature ‘Suddha’ (The Cleansing Rites) won him the Best Indian Film at the Osian Cinefan Festival of Asian Films, New Delhi, India in 2006 and an exhibition grant from ‘Hubert Bals Fund’, Netherlands. His second feature film ‘Putaani Party’ (The Kid Gang) won him the Best Children’s film at the Indian National Film Awards, 2009.

Producer's Digital Note: The way this works will be as follows - The movie is made available for free and for all interested. If people find some value in it, we would appreciate if they could feel free to contribute a donation, bank details are given in the vimeo link. (Account Name: Ramachandra PN. AC No: 0618101017313. IFSC CODE: CNRB0000618). If people are not in a position to do so, we would appreciate the fact that you have spent your valuable time in watching the movie. Such people can, if they feel like, drop in a word on the comment section - either here or in vimeo. In either case, the request is to fill in with the good, the bad and the ugly of the movie. Wish you an engaging watching experience.

A review:
https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/on-pn-ramachandras-new-film-haal-e-kangaal/article8240495.ece



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