Monday, November 02, 2009

The sky unusually looked so red,
The air was like fire,

A fierce goddess entered the villages,

And killed the people with dis
So people remained in their homes,
And did not go outside, In this great famine,

ome died and some survived

Lines from ‘Durbhikshya Boli’ - a poem by poet Sri.Manohar Meher from Sinapali, who witnessed the seven famines of 1899.

This documentary film talks about one hundred years of drought and lore in the districts of Kalahandi and Naupada in Orissa and its impact on the lives of tribes - Gond and Bhunjia. Produced by National Folklore Support Centre (Chennai), in collaboration with Adibasi Sanskruti Gabesana Parishad (Orissa) as a part of Orissa Digital Community Archive Project. Funded by Ford Foundation.

Details of the film in NFSC site

Thanks to Mr. M.D. Muthukumaraswamy ( Director NFSC) for giving me this project and Mr. Mahendra Kumar Misra (ASGP) for helping me realize it.

I learned a lot while doing this film - Simple facts like, my life in Kerala and metros in India never told anything about India. As Gandhi said India’s heart is in her villages. In a way one can call India, a big village. Though the project started with the plan of representing the effect of drought in those regions, what I saw was - the tribes were not only suffered from the drought but they were even badly affected by landgravers and corrupted officials. They were displaced form their own land. Gonds shifted to Raipur, remains a living truth of displacement. Interviews with Mr. Ravi Das, Secretary (Kalahandi Vikas Parishad) also proved this fact.

As Amarthya Sen says in ‘Poverty and Famine’(1981)

“Starvation is the characteristic of some people not having enough food to eat. It is not the characteristic of there being no food to eat”

It was not cockroach in cocktail then... As this website id reads it was ‘centurs’. I wanted to call this film club ‘Centurs Creation’. That was 4 years back.

As Wikipedia says - Cen`taurs, a savage race living between Pelion and Ossa, in Thessaly, and conceived of at length by Pindar as half men and half horses, treated as embodying the relation between the spiritual and the animal in man and nature, in all of whom the animal prevails over the spiritual except in Chiron, who therefore figures as the trainer of the heroes of Greece; in the mythology they figure as the progeny of Centaurus, son of Ixion (q. v.) and the cloud, their mothers being mares.

I was always been fascinated by this mythical creature in my childhood, ever since the I first got introduced to Greek Mythology. My slates and books used to be filled with pictures of horses. Centurs can be identified as a good combination of Good and Evil, in other words those qualities we can truly call ‘purely human’. Anyways my intention is not to talk about Centurs here. I just want to share thoughts about a film I did immediately after college days.

After college days, I was in Kerala with Ad filmmaker Vinod A.K for three months. Since then he is my only Guru and the production house ‘Veye’ my second home. All that I did later in life, is what I learned from him.
Those days, I was really confused about the realization of a fiction though I was somehow comfortable crafting a factual film which we call by the name ‘documentary’. Due to some personal reasons I returned back to Chennai and joined a firm called Newmedia Television. It was then the plan of doing a short film came into mind. There were quite a few concepts, but I was so touched by one thought that flashed in mind which was about ‘My Mirror’. I shared it with friends Joseph Alex and Titty Joseph. Both were initially confused, but then got convinced by the storyline.
Anbu said that he would do the camera for us. Friends, Anjana and Soumya quickly accepted the roles I described them. Titty’s classmate Rahul joined as the Production Controller. He also found us the other few very important actors for the film. In fact, the whole process of Mirror was an imitation of what I saw at Veye Films. My intention was to say a powerful story and in that process learn how to do a fiction.

During the whole process we had our own complications. Camera was supposed to be a character, Mr. Mirror and there was a scene in which the protagonist needs to throw the mirror. Anbu tried a lot of ways to identify an appropriate solution, but finally the best was to actually throw the camera. I decided to do the protagonist and in that scene throw the cam to Anbu’s hands and later the other character Soumya would take it and keep it back in the tripod. With our adventurous cameraman, in just two takes, we finished that shot. As soon as I took the cam from tripod and walked, Anbu scrolled down quickly to the other corner and when I threw it he caught it and kept it steady down. In all the other scenes the camera remained
the most obedient actor, ‘My Mirror’. My special regards to Titty who gave different looks for the same room for each scene according to the changing time.

Even after all this, with the final film I realized one thing - it is not conveying anything that I wanted a My Mirror to say and I ended up having a BIG Complex. I even thought of not attempting anymore fictions in life. The mistakes were, doing the film in English, acting the protagonist myself, bad time management, one big mechanical error with camera etc etc. Hence I kept the film hidden in my DVD pouch for almost 3 years. A few months back my friend Sachin happened to see it and told me that he liked the whole concept and I must breathe some life into it. Thus this film happened again. A few weeks back I started re-writing and re-editing it. And today I am presenting you ‘My Mirror’ in a better shape, though I still accept that it still retain a lot of mistakes including me and my language. Kindly accept it as an amateur filmmaker’s first effort exploring the media of film. Thanks.

Warm regards,