By Nita Deshmukh. Posted on October 21, 2015
Mor Mann Ke Bharam is the story of a writer who is struggling to write a novel. In a dingy lodge in a small town, he finds himself caught between the illusions and realities that surround him. As the lines between his stories and his experiences start blurring, he finds himself entangled in the web of his imagination.
The film has been completely shot in Raigarh in Chhattisgarh, with the active collaboration of the local theater group, IPTA Raigarh and its members. This film is a unique experiment in collaborative filmmaking with artists from different fields involved in the making. It features four different folk songs of Chhattisgarh in their original form and uses local motifs embedded in Chhattisgarhi culture that have not found space on the big screen till date.
What's more, it has 3 directors credited! The film is part of the India Gold Competition category at this years Jio MAMI.
Karma Takapa, born in Sikkim, has been trained in film direction at FTII. His earlier work includes Yahin Kahin Nahin, Pangtoed Chaam and Thutse Kyuma.
Heer Ganjwala, born and brought up in Mumbai, has been trained in film direction at FTII. Her notable work includes Nikhil And The Magic Market, Reeti and The Pilgrim.
Abhishek Varma, born in Lucknow, has studied Film Direction at FTII. He has earlier movies include Zero, W:/M: and Deritus.
In an exclusive interview with Jamuura the directors spoke about the film and their journey so far.
Karma: FTII would be my moment of clarity that made me want to involve myself in trying to understand the craft of making a film. I don’t come from an artistic or creative background. Joining FTII was a lucky break and the idea for it almost came at a whim. There wasn’t a long drawn thought behind it. But on the first day of class when we were shown a film followed by a discussion, it just felt like I was at the right place.
Heer: Mumbai was all I knew and advertising was the thing to do when I graduated. I did a few odd jobs before I joined a production house as an assistant director. The project initiated me into the physical aspects of making a film, right from scripting to release. More importantly, it broke my notion of a routine ‘job’. FTII is a space where completely dissimilar individuals come together and feel the same emotion while watching a film in a language none of us understand – it is almost magical. Each film stands testimony to when, where and how it came to be. Even films that don’t work for you in some way teach you a lesson.
Abhishek: I am from Lucknow. My father was a government official so my childhood was spent in various small towns in UP, as he would get transferred every 2-3 years. Due to the transferable nature of my father’s job, it was decided that sending us to a boarding school will be a better option, so I went to a boarding school in Nainital. At the boarding school I developed a keen interest in sports and painting. Films happened much later in my life, although I was a film buff for a considerable part of my life. I worked in corporate jobs for a few years and then decided to quit and pursue a course in film direction from FTII.
Karma: I’m inspired by the possibility of learning with every film I watch or make. Being in the film institute completely broadens your horizons with the kind of films you watch and the filmmakers you get to study. For a film student it would be particularly difficult to point out favorite film makers – it would be an endless list. Masters of the craft like Ozu, Bresson, Fellini, Tarkovsky, Ghatak, Kurosawa, Kubrick and many others have left us a legacy of films that continue to be relevant to filmmakers even today.
Heer: I enjoy films that attempt to question the ‘real’ and create experiences rather than just tell stories. I look forward to the works of contemporary filmmakers like Claire Denis, Kim Ki Duk, Emir Kusturica, Apichatpong Weerasethakul (the list can go on and on) who are pushing the medium to create a language of their own.
Abhishek: I love all sorts of films. There are so many great film makers I admire that taking names of a few would be an injustice to others.
Karma, Heer, Abhishek: The budget actually decided the approach in the making of the film. For independent film makers that don’t fall within the circuit, the need to make the film becomes paramount over and above the process. You are ready to do or explore any possibility that would allow you to make the film that you want to make. Trying in some way to make up for the lack of money with ways that would be cost effective. The traditional approach in this context is rigid in its demands, requiring you to fall in line and to concretely formulate your processes and ideas so as to cater to a set understanding of viewership and commerce, which we weren’t concerning ourselves with while conceiving or making the film.
Karma, Heer, Abhishek: The idea of the alternative or non-traditional approach to making the film wasn’t something that was a conscious decision. We were discussing the possibilities of making a collaborative film around the idea of a writer’s block that we all had come to experience with our writings. After some deliberation, we somehow got around to writing a basic caricature of a script with ideas that we had formed with our discussions. Since we are all batch mates in FTII there wasn’t a need of initiating ourselves to each others quirks. So in a sense we knew what to expect out of each other.
Once we had a sense of the script, which wasn’t complete by any stretch of the imagination, we spoke to Anadi (who is the executive producer and also the editor of the film) about the possibility of making the film. He offered to connect us to the Raigarh chapter of IPTA, of which he is a part. From there on the things started adding up and falling into place. We landed up in the culturally vibrant town of Raigarh for the first time in the peak of summer with an almost complete script in our hands and with no idea of what we were to expect or what we were getting ourselves into. Each and every member of IPTA Raigarh was an important contributor - this film was made possible thanks to their unconditional support, faith and love. The cast of the film comprises entirely of members and associates of IPTA Raigarh.
We improvised with our script to make the most of the local support offered to keep our budget in control. The production process of the film was done completely within a period of one month, from casting, to locations, to costumes, to shooting the film. We had written the script in Hindi.
Karma, Heer, Abhishek: For casting, we would sit in their theater rehearsals. Availability of the actors was also a big factor since all of them had day jobs and IPTA had play rehearsals in the evening. These constraints pretty much dictated the shooting schedule of the film. We took ten days to finalize locations, casting and other pre-production work.
The actors adapted the dialogues in Chhattisgarhi and a lot of improvisations took place according to the situation. We took twenty days to shoot the film. Another aid to our major budget crunch was the technical support we had. We borrowed the camera (5D) from IPTA; Accord Equips, Pune helped us with lenses, mics and a flycam; a friend lent us his sound recorder. There were just five of us, including the cinematographer and editor of the film. We all doubled up as lighting assistants, makeup artists, art directors, sound recordists and even painted a wall for a room. Other members from IPTA helped us with lighting and production as well. It was a self-sufficient team and a collaboration without any departmentalization.
Karma, Heer, Abhishek: In one month in Raigarh, it was amazing to see how others were also excited about us shooting the film there. They gave us their spaces for free, which became our locations. We even picked things from various people’s houses to be used as props in the film. It put us in a position to be able to recreate a hectic and chaotic atmosphere that we associate with shooting a film. The good thing was that no one complained.
Karma, Heer, Abhishek: Once the shooting of the film was over, we began editing first in FTII, Pune and later in Mumbai. We returned to Chattisgarh after the edit for the dubbing and the recording of songs. We created a faux dubbing studio in Raigarh with blankets and mattresses covering the room for acoustics. The actors were literally sweating inside, especially since we dubbed during the hottest time of the year.
Fortunately for us, our co-producers Mr. Viren Rai Jain (Anand BEC Fertilisers) and Mrs. Renu Goyal came on board at the right time to lend us support for the post-production work. Seniors from FTII and other supporters of independent films helped us work out good deals to complete our studio work in Mumbai - sound mixing was done at Sin Temple and Sound Ideaz and the colour correction at Color Bar.
Karma, Heer, Abhishek: Presently, Mor Mann Ke Bharam is ready for release. We are focusing our efforts towards finding distributors to release the film theatrically. Film festivals like JioMAMI provide us with the possibility of presenting our film to audiences who may be able to look beyond the stereotypical categorizing of a film as arty or alternative or traditional. We are working towards our next ventures but as this story repeats itself we start right at the bottom of the order where we look for funds to make the film that we want to make.