It’s not a feature film that will pull in huge crowds — if it ever were released commercially. Life in Metaphors — A Portrait of Girish Kasaravalli is a draw only for filmmakers, both budding and professional, and fans of short films and documentaries. Among them, Life in Metaphors’ director OP Shrivastav has become an inspiration. An investment banker who became a filmmaker after he retired, 60-year-old Shrivastav turned his camera on legendary filmmaker Girish Kasaravalli and expanded the focus to highlight the art and craft of filmmaking as well as Kasaravalli’s philosophy of life. The 85-minute film unfolds through interviews with Kasaravalli, his family and friends. Scenes from the filmmaker’s classic works such as Dweepa, Avashesh and Ghatashraddha give audiences a glimpse of some finely-nuanced scenes. Natural landscapes also sweep through the frames. Life in Metaphors is a celebration of art as well as a life.
When did you first come across the works of Girish Kasaravalli?
Early 2003-04. I told my wife that I wanted to be a filmmaker. After I retired in 2014, I started attending workshops on filmmaking. I went to FTII and Whistling Woods, among others. In July 2012, I had attended a workshop by FTII. Girish Kasaravalli had come to conduct a masterclass and showed his movie Dweepa. I was memerised by it. I found him humble, creative and profound in his understanding of cinema.
Why did you choose a living legend, who is still contributing to cinema?
I did not particularly make a film on Girish Kasaravalli. To me, he was my mentor and subject. My quest was to understand cinema. I thought it was a good way to do so by dipping into the world of Girish Kasaravalli.
I would ask him why he made a film and so on. I studied his grammar, style and craft. In the entire process I educated myself as a filmmaker.
Did you feel the need to pay special attention to nature in your film?
Girish Kasaravalli comes from Kesaluru, a village in the Western Ghats, which is one of the greenest parts in the nation. He has grown up in a naturally green environment and it is a summation of his childhood home and nature. His film Dweepa was about rain, which has always fascinated him since his childhood. The very first scene of my film, which is shot at his childhood home, is basically of him going into flashback.
In your film, writer UR Ananthamurthy calls Girish Kasaravalli someone who is not ideological but philosophical. What do you have to say about this?
I agree with Ananthamurthy that Girish Kasaravalli is philosophical. He is not bent on proving a point through his art. He may say that his point of view is right but he will add that the opposite could also be true. He picks up a topic and analyses it, gives his view and leaves it for the audience to interpret it. This gives a universality to his films.
What are the other projects that you are working on?
I am researching on the musical tradition of Varanasi and also working on a fictional film about a conflict between a father and a son due to digital technology.