By Arun Fulara. Posted on January 05, 2016
Not many senior filmmakers in India take the short film format seriously. Umesh Kulkarni is a rare exception. His diploma film Girni, won the Best Director and Best Cinematography awards at 2005 National Awards, apart from travelling to more than 40 international film festivals.
Travelling with Girni also exposed the then young Kulkarni to the world of short films. He realized the potential of the medium & saw first-hand how filmmakers were using it to tell stories that are best told in the shorter format. There's a scope for experimentation, for risk-taking, for playing with the cinematic medium.
Perhaps that's why Kulkarni's kept going back to making short films every time he found himself relatively free. In his own words, "It helps to keep the creative juices flowing & allows me to get some things out of my system, which otherwise i won't be able to".
After Girni he made Gaarud, which also had a good run in the festival circuit. His next short film was Three Of Us, a docu short that gave us a fly-on-the-wall perspective into the lives of a family that is dealing stoically with a grown-up disabled son. Sadly, none of his short films are online, but this small piece from Three of Us, is something you can savour.
The small profile of Three of Us on the IDFA site says it best,
"The disabled 40-year-old is completely dependent on his parents for survival. They feed him, wash him, put him to bed and comfort him. Despite all this, the family comes across as harmonious and calm, and they seem to love and respect each other. That very respect is testimony to their endurance, and to the fact that they have accepted their destiny. Nevertheless, we do notice some inner sadness as the mother, father and son go about their daily activities. The film is devoid of music and voices; the drama is built by silent, low-key action, as well as a lot of emotional suspense and compassion."
He's made another short film recently, Makkhi, a satirical look at the corporate obsession with productivity. The film defies genres (which is to say i couldn't place it) but has an irreverence we don't usually associate with a 'serious' filmmaker like Kulkarni.
In 2013, a retrospective of all his short films was conducted at the prestigious Clermont Ferrand Short Film Festival in France. However, this hasn't led to more recognition of his short films at home. But things are changing & the shorter format is gaining salience. More & more established filmmakers are dabbling with the medium as evidenced by Sujoy Ghosh's Ahalya & Anurag Kashyap's That Day After Everyday.
Kulkarni has been doing his bit to create awareness. He's been running a hugely successful short film making workshop in Pune for the last 4 years which has introduced many young minds to the power of this format. Together along with the ex-dean of FTII, Samar Nakhate, he's been helping these young wannabe filmmakers, develop their ideas & explain how best they can translate them on the screen.
He's bringing this workshop to Mumbai for the first-time this weekend. The 4-day workshop will run from Jan 7th to 10th and you can call any of these nos to book your seat - 9167677801/ 9623448503/ 9167619549 or you can mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
7th to 10th January, 2016
Time: 9.30AM to 5PM
Sathaye College Auditorium, Dixit Road, Vile Parle East, Mumbai.