Visuals of violence not necessary to make statement against it: Jahnu Barua
Jahnu Barua’s Baandhon set against the backdrop of 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai recently won the Best Film Award at Bengaluru International Film Festival.
Jahnu Barua’s Baandhon won the Best Film Award at the recently concluded Bengaluru International Film Festival. Baandhon, the second film to be produced by the Assam State Film (Finance and Development) Corporation, is a poignant portrayal of the aftermath of terrorism on common people. The film was screened at the Mumbai International Film Festival 2012, International Film Festival of Kerala 2012 and opened the Feature Film section in the Indian Panorama at the International Film Festival of India. Jahnu Barua talks about Baandhon.
How did the idea of Baandhon occur to you?
Actually I have been thinking of making a film against terrorism. At the same time, I was very clear about certain things: I wanted to make it without indulging into any kind of visuals of violence. For me, it’s not necessary to have visuals of violence to make a statement against violence. The idea of Baandhon occurred to me after the Mumbai terror attack; how the common person always gets affected. A common person has nothing to do with the functioning of the world but is always the victim, so on this idea I tried to design this film. I tried to make it very clear that the film belongs to the common people and represents their plight. A small fraction of people have taken over the functioning of the world but when something goes wrong, it is the common people who suffer, this is a universal fact. That is what bothers me as a filmmaker and I wanted to put this point forward.
it’s not necessary to have visuals of violence to make a statement against violence. The idea of Baandhon occurred to me after the Mumbai terror attack; how the common person always gets affected. A common person has nothing to do with the functioning of the world but is always the victim
How has the film’s journey been?
Firstly, I was sure I wanted to make the film in Assamese, because the Assamese community when compared to the other communities in the world is smaller. I wanted to project the feeling that it can happen anywhere so it was better to base the film in a smaller community. This way I thought it would make more impact on whoever watches the film. I also wanted to make it very simple so that it is identifiable everywhere, so I avoided bringing in complexities of culture, art and life. What matters to me is the life of common people, which is a universal phenomenon. The audience of any other country feels the same way that a native Assamese audience feels about the film.
Baandhon is funded by the Assam State Film (Finance and Development) Corporation (ASFFDC). This is ASFFDC’s second stint at film funding, first being Jonakee, almost eleven years ago.
The gap of so many years shows that somewhere the corporation lacks something. The corporation (started in 1974) is supposed to make films and the fact that they have not been able to do it speaks a lot. If you ask me why this has happened? The answer is not with me. I can only say that, a corporation of such a state should have the means to make at least five to six films a year. Since this is not happening, I guess something is wrong somewhere.
You have also made a Hindi film Maine Gandhi Ko Nahi Mara. How was it different from making an Assamese film?
Hindi language has a bigger canvas; more people in this world speak Hindi than Assamese, so that way you have a larger number of audiences you can expect to see your film. That’s the only difference for a film maker like me, because my approach to a film is same everywhere irrespective of language or culture. But people from setup to setup give different kinds of experiences. When I was making Maine Gandhi Ko Nahi Mara, the whole experience was different. I would say there is more professionalism in people involved in Hindi cinema.
I believe everything depends on the filmmaker, the captain of the ship. For example, when I plan my schedule and decide to shoot the film in 30 days, I should be able to do that anywhere. It all depends on me. In Assam, things are informal and there are chances of being disorganized and going haywire. I maintain a discipline. I need to adapt a different kind of attitude according to the people I’m working with. So I study the unit and people and follow a strict discipline everywhere.
You are often referred to as one of the pioneers of art cinema in Assam.
No, I don’t call myself an ‘art filmmaker’. For me cinema itself is an art, whether it’s commercial or any other. It depends on the filmmaker how he or she uses this art. Some filmmakers might use it for more commercial reasons and some might try to use it for a more artistic reason. I believe in two types of films; good film and bad film. Good films are those wherein the filmmaker as an artist or a person with a social responsibility uses the art to make his/her point to the audience. If he/she achieves in making that kind of a product, it’s a good film. The purpose has to come from within as a filmmaker, as an artist and he/she should be very sure about what he/she wants to give his/her audience. Bad films are those that are made on what the audience wants. Then you are not a filmmaker, you are just designing something that the audience seeks. Good films have more responsibility towards its audience, while a bad film is devoid of any responsibility.
I don’t call myself an ‘art filmmaker’. For me cinema itself is an art, whether it’s commercial or any other. It depends on the filmmaker how he or she uses this art. Some filmmakers might use it for more commercial reasons and some might try to use it for a more artistic reason. I believe in two types of films; good film and bad film.
You’ve been making films since 1974. How has your journey been so far?
Oh yeah! I made my first feature film in 1982, before that I made many a short films and advertising films. The journey has been tiring. When you have a strong conviction, you don’t like to deviate from this conviction. You are determined to do things the way you want to, there are struggles in achieving this but a lot of satisfaction too. You get tired with satisfaction and so far all the films that I have made, I have never compromised. At the same time, I’m yet to meet a person who tells me that my film doesn’t work or that it is bad, not watchable, not lovable and not likable My wife is the best critic of my films. I have always felt proud and happy about whatever I have made. But at the same time, it is quite tiring.