Fresh Talent: Mayank Tripathi On His First Short Film, 'Billu's Flight'!

By Nita Deshmukh. Posted on October 16, 2015

“I believe that I have to be particular to get what I like or I will be forced to like what I get, and this has made my journey towards filmmaking tremendously passionate”, Says Mayank Tripathi.

Mayank Tripathi is a young filmmaker who is currently working for Zee International as a Director of Photography.

He has traveled around the world as a cruise videographer and photographer who enjoys shooting glaciers, volcanoes, landscapes and wildlife. Showing different cultures from all around the world through his photographs is his passion.

Billu's Flight is his first short film which narrates the story of a young boy who is trying to support his family through a unique sport called kabootarbaazi (Pigeon Race). The film has traveled to international film festivals like the Washington DC South Asian Film Festival (DCSAFF) and Queen City Film Festival (QCFF) and has recently been shortlisted for the Delhi International Film Festival (DIFF).

Jamuura spoke to Mayank about his journey, his film and his future plans.

On His Early Years:

My native place is Agra. I have several good memories of the place. As a kid I always wanted to make documentaries. For a long time I thought of making a film on farmer suicides. However a lot of people told me there have been several films on the same topic and mine would  just be one of them. I always wanted to be different! After giving it a thought I came up with the idea of a film that revolves around farmers issues and yet is different from the rest. That’s how my journey for Billu’s Flight started. Of course my experience in the television industry helped me immensely when it came to understanding the technical details”.

On Billu’s Flight:

“Kabootarbaazi is a sport in India where people keep pigeons and train them to fly high. These days people hardly know about this sport. The whole film is about a boy who is struggling to win this competition, so that he can support his family with the prize money. Finally the boy loses his pigeon on a competition day and what happens next is revealed in the climax”.

“We shot the film in Basada village of Uttar Pradesh. The co-writer of the film, Harsh Tyagi, is from Uttar Pradesh and he suggested that we shoot the film in Basada. I fell in love with the place during my first visit itself. The village is so beautiful and untouched. It is simple yet so out of the ordinary and the people there are so wonderful and warm-hearted”.

On The Making Of The Film:

“I shot the film on 5D due to the budget constraints. 5D gives you full frame which in a way is great. I took care that the quality of the footage is not compromised at any cost. Now when I look at the final product, I think we did a good job! One good thing about 5D is that you can carry it around and shoot as and when you like it.  Like I said before, the village was really small so we didn’t need any permissions”.

“We did carry two soft lights with us but the village didn’t have any electricity, so we could not charge them. We had to depend on natural source lights. So the entire movie is shot in natural light. This was very challenging and at the same time exciting”.

On Non- Professional Actors:

“We shot the film in a schedule of ten days. Excluding one or two actors the entire cast is of non –professional actors from the village itself. The people there are so simple that they didn’t even know how films are shot. Though I must tell you they were extremely supportive! Our lead or protagonist as you may call it, Lavi Tyagi portraying the character of Billu is also from the village. I didn’t conduct any workshop for him. He is young but very clever. He would understand things fast and remember them easily. After the second day on the shoot he understood continuity of the scenes. If I would forget he reminded me. According to me the freshness of the actors added flavor to the film”.

Kabootarbaazi is important part of the film. It gives definitive shape to the story. Shooting with the pigeons was challenging. The final competition in the movie required around 150 odd pigeons. We had to get them from Delhi. Managing them during the shoot was a big task. But in the end we managed it all and were able to get some good shots."

On Film Festivals:

“These days there is a trend of uploading short films on YouTube and other social media sites. It is good in a way, I mean it gives you great visibility. If you ask me, I think every short filmmaker should take his film to festivals. It gives you a wider vision, you get to meet so many people and learn so many new things. Jamuura helped me immensely in this process. They introduced me to several film festivals that I wasn't  even aware of.  The film went to festivals like Washington DC South Asian Film Festival (DCSAFF), Delhi International Film Festival (DIFF) and Queen City Film Festival (QCFF). At DCSAFF people really appreciated the film and I got so many offers for new projects. Whether I make another film or not is a different thing but all this has been extremely encouraging and made me decide that I will always continue to make different films like Billu’s Flight”.


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