Should an indie filmmaker fear to be hated by public, asks Shivajee Chandrabhushan
DearCinema brings to you a few voices that define the Indie scene in India today, ruminating over what independent cinema means to them. Straight from the horse’s mouth. Following Q, Shonali Bose and Onir, in the fourth in the series, Shivajee Chandrabhushan who made the critically acclaimed film ‘Frozen’ and is now working on his next independent project ‘One More’ sums up his views on independent cinema:
Lots of people in my short span of film life have described me as an ‘Independent filmmaker’. As much I welcomed the thought, I had no idea what it meant initially. Isn’t every filmmaker independent? I knew the theory of course but learnt later that, they are not. I would like to now digress for a moment and explain what independent cinema is. I could be totally off the track but then this is what I think.
“ A cinema that has no Production house to back, nearly no money to begin with, mostly unknown names to name, only a tight script to shoot, technology to boast and passion as fuel but which eventually brings the director’s poetic imagination on screen by giving him/her complete freedom is called independent cinema.”
It’s easy to make a film (comparatively) when you have a posh office set up, Nescafe counter at every alley of it, assistants with iPhones, ‘whatever’ attitude and a man on a big roller chair telling you what to do next. It’s quite easy in my opinion because when you are part of so-called commercial cinema you have enough money to hire people to do jobs for you. But in independent cinema, you have to take in your own hands the responsibility to do each and everything. You have to be a multi-tasker, you must be ready to become a spot boy as well as an actor if need arises yet all the risk and blame for the failure of film will be duly credited to you. It all starts with a desire to make a movie that even you are not sure will garner any profitable returns probably because you are not even thinking about it when you are making it; but then that’s the beauty of Independent cinema, everything is independent of everything.
What I feel sad about is that no matter how much people call us independent, somewhere we are bound by immense limitations in India. We are still too afraid of the outcomes in the name of public reactions. We don’t want to be hated no matter how much we boast about our indifferent nature towards people and love for art. I love my audience small that is, I love them nonetheless.
I agree our cinema is not world class. If we leave out the name of Satyajit Ray, then we are pretty much left with mumbled words and confused look on our face. But I am happy that we are trying and that too really hard. Our sense of cinema is extremely diverse and unparalleled. Some people accuse independent cinema to be boring, again I would like to disagree and suggest that entertainment is a word with very subjective meanings; hence, its intensity, definition and meaning differ from person to person. It’s not boring, but simply misunderstood.
How many film festivals, ceremonies and functions happen in India that actually promote good films instead of glorifying the already glorified big films? There are only few of them. Independent film making in India still remains independent of public viewing mostly because they go unnoticed. Other countries I have been to have myriad film festivals to promote their underdog filmmakers and unnoticed films but we choose rather not to care of it as an art form.
I have recently made a feature film called “One More…” in Ladakh. When I look back now, I see a life changing experience behind me. But only I know what I went through in making that movie. Often I had to borrow from my generous friends and ask people around me to help me in completing my film. Sometimes I felt that I could make a film on how to make a film like that. There were disappointments, disapprovals, ridicules and humiliation all the way but then what kept us going, it was the feeling of making a film.
When I produce my films myself, I have the independence to make my decisions, to choose my own routes to success. I don’t work on formula based scripts when I know I can. After ‘Frozen’ I was offered those kinds of scripts. I was tempted as well as confused but I decided not to do them because if I accepted them, then what was the point of going through all the hardships to make ‘Frozen’ after all. I could have made some formula based blockbuster script with 3 songs around trees and one song around pole to start with.
I am inspired when I see young blokes making short films all around me, even full-length feature films now. Thanks to digital technology that has paved the way for making movies in literally zero budget. India may not have any standing in independent cinema today but the speed at what it has achieved in this shorter span of time, I am sure soon we will have an international standing of our own as well.