December 7, 2021 5:51:51 pm
“Pagdi aur chappal ek hi almari me nahi rakhey jaatey (turban and shoes are not kept in same cupboard),” complains an upper-caste priest, apprehensive of staying with a lower caste man under the same roof, to the in-charge of a quarantine centre. This particular scene from the recently released film Andaman highlights the multiple challenges the administration in rural areas might have had to face while handling the Covid-19 crisis.
Directed by journalist-turned filmmaker Smita Singh, Andaman is a story that revolves around a failed IAS aspirant who is made in charge of a quarantine centre in a village. This 1.52-hour film, made at a limited budget with mostly unknown actors, is a simple and honest portrayal of rural India’s fight against one of the biggest humanitarian crises.
“I am very grateful to actors like Sanjay Mishra and Rajesh Tailang for their cameos in the film which they agreed to do without charging a single penny. They supported the idea and encouraged me to go ahead with the making of the film which they also believe should have been made,” said Singh while speaking to indianexpress.com
However, it was not easy project for the debutant director. “We could not approach big actors due to financial constraints. My friend Anand Raj (who played the protagonist in the film) wrote the story and we roped in theatre actors from Lucknow and eastern UP who had returned to their hometown from Mumbai after lockdown. They were without work after the outbreak of Covid-19.”
With mostly newcomers in the film, it was rejected by the distributors. Even the OTT platforms refused to buy it as it had unknown faces. The challenge was to take the movie to its right audience. And for that, the makers came up with a new platform which could be helpful for the aspiring filmmakers struggling to release their films.
“This film has been made with the support of a lot of ordinary and unknown people. The big challenge was distribution. Most of the OTT said no to us as it had unknown faces. So we created this platform called Open Theatre where one can watch the film after paying a small sum of Rs 45. One just has to log in to the form and pay that small amount. In return, they will get a referral link which he/she can forward to others. If others watch the film on their reference, they get a cashback of Rs 15. Even if three people watch the film based on their reference, they can recover their amount.”
“We want to take this film to maximum people. And with our own OTT platform, our audience is not only going to be viewers but also our profit partners. This platform can be utilised by the aspiring filmmakers struggling to take their film to its audience,” explained Singh.
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