Big Leap for Shorts

For Humaramovie, an online channel for short films, creating a theatrical platform for short filmmakers is a logical progression.

Written by Alaka Sahani | Updated: July 7, 2014 6:48:10 pm
A still from 'Gatekeeper'. A still from ‘Gatekeeper’.

Shuruaat Ka Interval, a first-of-its-kind anthology of short films hand-picked as part of a contest by Humaramovie to mentor filmmakers, readies for a theatrical release this month

What option is the director of the play Ramayan left with when the actor playing Ram goes missing? By the time it is interval, Sita has already been abducted by Raavan. Chaos fills the green room and the solution that emerges requires Sita to fight for herself and eliminate her abductor, which also does not go according to plan. Titled Ayan and directed by Amrit Raj Gupta, this is the plot for one of the short films that has been chosen by Humaramovie to be released as part of Shuruaat Ka Interval, a film which is a collection of about 10 shorts under 15 minutes each.

For Humaramovie —  an online channel for short films — creating a theatrical platform for short filmmakers is a logical progression of their three-year-old initiative. “We have a large pool of filmmakers and most of them dream that their movies will make it to the theatre screens. So we conceived “Shuruaat”, a festival that provides such an opportunity to them,” says Vinay Mishra, who founded Humaramovie with Pallavi Rohatgi and Preety Ali. Out of the 44 screenplays they received from a contest they floated, they shortlisted 11 filmmakers who were mentored by Anand Gandhi, Vikramaditya Motwane, Vikash Bahl and Imtiaz Ali. They also got script guidance from Kshiti Nijhawan Agrawal, Ritesh Shah, Bijesh Jayarajan and Rajashree.

The name of the film is a combination of the name of the festival and the theme for the festival’s first edition — “Interval” —  hence Shuruaat Ka Interval. From the Shuruaat contest, Humaramovie has content of up to 300 minutes, but the final cut for the theatrical release is just around the 100-minute mark. “Even though we could not support all the applicants, we asked them to make movies and submit them. The final shortlist has a mix of movies made by those who were mentored by us as well as other’s films,” Mishra says. The content will not go waste. “Humaramovie is planning to release a DVD featuring all the films that made it to the final list,” says Mishra. The film which is awaiting a censor certificate, will be released either on July 18 or July 25 under PVR Director’s Rare in select cities.

Though short, many of them have given as much attention to detail as one would for a feature. For Gatekeeper, a non-verbal film about a lonely gatekeeper at a desolate railway crossing, director Atanu Mukherjee and his cinematographer wife Pooja Gupte, went on a recce till they came across one between Nerul and Matheran that seemed perfect. “I had this story in mind for quite some time and it worked well with the festival theme,” says Mukherjee, who has studied editing at Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute (SRFTI) and recently got the Best Film award at the Cinema City International Film Festival in Serbia for his film Stray Dog.

Unlike Mukherjee, Aarti Sriratan Bagdi’s script was not shortlisted for mentoring. Undeterred, she boarded a bus to Hyderabad and shot The Final Interval in 10 days. This also served as a nice break for Bagdi, who has assisted Sooraj Barjatya and Subhash Ghai in the past and is currently working on a feature film script.

All the mentors have come on board pro bono and working with young filmmakers has served as a draw for most. According to Motwane, mentoring upcoming filmmakers helps him stay up-to-date. “It is interesting to see  upcoming filmmakers’ work and observe how filmmaking has changed over the years. Today, they are making various kinds of films instead of sticking to a certain template,” says Motwane.

But is the audience ready to watch such films in theatres? “We have close to 40,000 subscribers. When the content is free, getting people’s attention is a big challenge because viewers keep wondering if they are missing out on something else. In the theatre however, those who buy tickets are intent on watching the show,” he says. This time, the viewers will also be given the task of choosing the best film. The film that gets maximum recommendations will be awarded Rs 1 lakh. “Shuruaat” is likely to be an annual affair. “We will keep changing the theme though the name of the festival will remain the same,” Mishra adds.

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