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Shot on borrowed mobile phone, student’s short film wins award at Bosnia-Herzegovina film fest

The festival had received as many as 1,600 entries, of which 89 films from 45 countries were shortlisted for competitions in three categories. Kharat’s film was shortlisted for the ‘Ecology section,’ and beat out 35 other films to win the top prize.

Written by Alifiya Khan | Pune |
September 23, 2017 7:49:02 am
The film tells the story of children who are from a drought-affected village. It presents the contradiction of the times we live in, says the filmmaker.

During the break between his final year of BA and the beginning of his MA, 23-year-old Nagnath Kharat decided to make a short film, an idea which he had toyed with for several years.

Kharat, now a second-year History MA student at the Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU), did face one problem: he had no equipment and no money to shoot the film.

Undeterred by the lack of resources, he borrowed a friend’s Android phone and convinced three local children to ‘star’ in his film, which was shot entirely in his village, Motewadi in Solapur.

The 14-minute Marathi short film — Disad Dis — won the Golden Butterfly Award at the Viva Film Festival in Bosnia-Herzegovina on September 17.

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The festival had received as many as 1,600 entries, of which 89 films from 45 countries were shortlisted for competitions in three categories. Kharat’s film was shortlisted for the ‘Ecology section,’ and beat out 35 other films to win the top prize.

“I spent all of my savings, amounting to Rs 7,000, while shooting this film… I didn’t even have the courage to tell my parents what I was doing. In fact, I kept it a secret from everyone, including parents of the children who were starring in the film. I just wanted to make a film to fulfils my dream… at that time, I had no idea how far the film would reach,” said Kharat.

His hesitation about telling his family about the film stemmed from Kharat’s modest financial background. Kharat studied in an ashramshala, where education is free for students. He was a bright student who managed to secure admission in an engineering college in Pune.

“My parents decided to send me to Pune for further studies and it was a major decision for them. I didn’t like engineering so I told them I wanted to do my graduation in Arts instead, which they allowed me to do. Even then, I couldn’t tell them that I wanted to learn filmmaking… they had lots of expectations from me and that wasn’t a career choice about which I could convince my farmer parents. So, when I shot the film in my village, I told my parents it was a college project that was worth 15 marks,” said Kharat.

His family members finally learnt what he had been up to when a Marathi newspaper carried an article about his short film winning an award at a film festival in Ahmednagar. “Thankfully, now they are happy and want me to pursue my dream of making films,” he said.

The film tells the story of children who are from a drought-affected village.

It presents the contradiction of the times we live in where, on the one hand, smart cities are being developed, and on the other hand, villagers and farmers are being uprooted, said Kharat. The story is of a reality he has seen up close himself, he said.

Completed in March 2016, the film was selected for several film festivals and has won seven awards at local and state-level festivals so far. It has also been nominated for film festivals in Washington and Bangladesh.

Kharat admitted that the international award would not have been possible without the help of SPPU authorities and Vice-Chancellor Dr N R Karmalkar. “I did know about the festival but I didn’t have the money to go there and participate in it. The festival authorities had made arrangements for accommodation and food, but I couldn’t afford the flight tickets, as they cost over Rs 70,000. The university helped me out and gave me the flight tickets, that’s why I was able to attend the festival,” said Kharat.

Asked about his future plans, the SPPU student said he plans to make more films, and while he has received a couple of offers from production houses, he wishes to work independently.

For his next project, Kharat may not have to borrow his friend’s phone again, as he is now the proud owner of a brand new Android phone.

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