At Mumbai Metro stations: It’s lights, camera, action time

Organised as a part of the Majhi Metro Festival by Mumbai Metro One, it aims to bring people of Mumbai together to help them contribute their art to a public space

Written by Benita Chacko | Mumbai | Published: March 8, 2017 2:57 am
Over 1,300 people have registered for the filmmaking contest this year, which will be judged by National Award-winning filmmaker Anand Gandhi. Amit Chakravarty

Marking their new-found friendship, Ritesh and Riya sit together relishing their ice-cream. In a playful moment, Riya smears the ice-cream on Ritesh’s face as the director yells ‘Cut!’, to a crowd of gawking commuters at the DN Nagar Metro station. With the ongoing Majhi Metro Filmmaking contest, it has become a regular affair for commuters travelling by the Metro to run into actors, directors and cameramen on the stations or trains. Organised as a part of the Majhi Metro Festival by Mumbai Metro One, it aims to bring people of Mumbai together to help them contribute their art to a public space and also give budding talents a platform to display their art. In its fourth year now, it has previously conducted painting, poetry and photography contests.

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Over 1,300 people have registered for the filmmaking contest this year, which will be judged by National Award-winning filmmaker Anand Gandhi. Beside the nuanced filmmakers who have signed up, regular office-goers have also taken time out of their busy work schedules to pursue their undying passion for the art.

Sourabh Das, a social media producer with a digital website, has always been passionate about filmmaking and has made several documentaries for YouTube channel. But this was the first time that he got to showcase his talent on such a platform.

“Usually it is tough to get permissions to shoot in such places. But through this competition I got a great opportunity to shoot here. Also my film will get greater visibility and will be judged along with many other filmmakers,” says Das.

This is also an opportunity for filmmakers to shoot in an uncontrolled environment without causing any inconvenience to the commuters. “On a film set the director is in control of everything. But when you shoot in public places like the Metro station everything is uncontrolled. We cannot decide who will be sitting next to our actors or how long the train will halt at a station. So apart from making the film we also had the additional responsibility of handling the uncontrolled environment. But the beauty of the contest was in this challenge,” says Manisha Pradhan, whose film on the 1984 Bhiwandi riots ‘HIM’ has entered the Beed Film Festival.

The Metro staff also had a challenging task at hand with filmmakers having unhindered access to the stations. That apart they even had to cooperate with several requests from the filmmakers for retakes.

Elvis Furtado, one of the participants, recalls a friendly experience with the Metro staff. “We had to shoot one scene where the actors were entering the Metro station. The scene required several retakes and the Metro staff willingly obliged to use their pass to open the gates for every take,” he says.

The films have explored several themes from non-fiction representations of the importance of the Metro to fictional love stories and suspense thrillers. As one of the participants, Amey Parulekar, puts it, “It is a win-win situation for both. For the filmmaker it gives him a chance to make his film and the Metro can promote itself through these films,” he says.

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