Tag Archives: mumbai

#4 Learning from the experts – Nishtha Jain

For those of you who are not familiar with one of the prime candidates for the best documentary film makers of India, Nishtha Jain; she is a former student of Film and Television Institute of India (FTII). She has directed critically acclaimed films such as At My Doorstep, Lakshmi and Me, 6 Yards to Democracy etc. Along with Smriti Nevatia, the duo runs an independent documentary film company named Raintree Films.

I had the privilege of meeting Nishtha Jain at a film screening of Gulabi Gang in Mumbai. Here are a few points I noted as she interacted with us!

Nishtha Jain with Sampat Pal (the real leader of Gulabi Gang)

1. Making a documentary is an unpredictable job. You will never get what you wished for but you will certainly be rewarded for your patience. But Nishtha Jain believes in having everything in writing. No matter what, having a blueprint of your day will help you in deciding how to lead your crew.

2. Others might think otherwise, but making a documentary rather than anything else requires time. The crew spent five months with Gulabi Gang to produce this 96 minute marvel.

3. (I strongly contradict the following point) Nishtha does not believe in giving a direction so as to conveniently reach a desired climax. She believes it is essential to be neutral and non judgmental as a documentary film maker while conceiving a documentary.

4. People in the villages were casual with the camera. Being camera conscious is more of an urban-middle-class obsession. For the villagers, it was more threatening that Sampat Pal was about to interfere in the matter. And they focused on the boom pole; stared at it aimlessly. That worked just fine for the sound.

5. Most of the flow was decided on the edit table. It will not be wrong to say that documentaries are written on the edit table. (The film is edited by Arjun Gourisaria. This amazing documentary won its well deserved recognition for Best Non-Feature Film editing at the 61st National Film Awards. Nishtha was an essential part of the actual edit team as well)

6. You need to be a rebel. Being safe all the time will not get you a good sunset shot. Having said that, nobody appreciates a dead filmmaker with a half baked documentary. So, that!

 

The screening of Gulabi Gang was followed by a screening of the film Yellow. Although I enjoy fiction more, because of the ridicule Yellow produced in me, it heightened my experience of Gulabi Gang. Overall, it was a colourful evening.

 

The film Gulabi Gang was completed (shot) in 2010, first screened in Dubai at the Dubai International Film Festival in 2012 and later in India in 2014. It is based on a women activist group in Bundelkhand, UP. It was distributed by Recyclewala Labs. The same guys who brought you Ship of Theseus which is available for a legal free download over here (at least in India).

If interested, do not miss the trailer of Gulabi Gang over here!

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#2 Write up – Just Another Heroic Tale (2013)

It is a funny thing, ‘change’. Not the long-lasting, permanent change. But that slight detour which makes you stroll awayfrom your natural way. Making you realize that there is so muchnew,other than what you knew. Change, is not so bad.

Shopping and I do not belong in the same sentence. But then wemen are often gently asked to change by womenAnd although changing clothes would not actually change who we are, the determination of a dyed-in-the-wool woman remains unchanged.

So I found myself in the epitome of where-not-to-be– Colaba market. Where I was introduced to the feminine superpower offending the perfect top in a labyrinth of vibrancy. And the four-dimensional bag that fits every damn thing without making a show of it. Where does the stuff go? I watched in awe.

I enjoyed my role of a sidekick, till the point I saw a really cool Superman tee.I was looking for one since a while, but could never find the perfect one. But every superhero tale needs a good old-fashioned villain – the sales guy!Quoting a whopping 550 for a regular tee.

Too much for a piece off the streets, right?

I wasn’t quite happy. I like one thing, just one, and why does it have to be so impossible?

Andat that exact moment, she appeared. She stood right in front of me, blocking the Sun. And then she engaged into a gory battle of bargaining. The sales guy was good. But she tackled his every attack by saying, “Kya Bhaiyya…” Ultimately,the tee was in for a hundred bucks. I had tears of joy in my eyes. And though I wore the Superman tee. I felt like more Lois Lane.

Wait a second…

Aren’twe boys meant to dominate all the scenes?

I realized that sometimes the toughest of us act like a moody princess. And we wait for our knight in shining armour to rescue us. And there is nothing wrong over there. It might be a little different from our regular stories but what the hell, change is not so bad.

Note: Hey, what do you expect? I am a filmmaker. I exaggerate for a living.