WHAT HAPPENS when an artist decides to express his thoughts not on canvas but on the big celluloid screen? Gaalibeeja (Windseed) by artist Babu Eshwar Prasad, a recipient of the Karnataka Lalit Kala Akademi award, is poised on a cusp of two art forms. Each of the characters in the film are on a journey called life represented by a road. Excerpts from an interview with the 48-year-old first-time filmmaker:
Why the title Gaalibeeja?
When I started working on the film, we never decided on a title. After the film was made, I wondered how to title it. Windseed is a kind of a seed that flies from one place to another, and something sprouts where it lands. I connected it to the journey in the film as it is a metaphor for the journey of life.
Why did you choose to debut as a filmmaker with a road movie?
World cinema was not very easily available during my college days as it is now. I was in Baroda and we used to watch a lot of films in the film club. In 1991, I watched a pirated VHS of Alice in the Cities, a cult road movie, and liked it as I was fond of traveling. After that I watched many more films from the same genre.
How was the experience of shooting your first feature film?
Very good, as we all are friends. Most of us are from the art background. The actors are practising artists from Bangalore, and have studied in Shantiniketan, Baroda and other places. After making the film, I had a tough time with the Censor Board. They said that it was neither a film nor a documentary and that there was no third category.
For a feature film, Gaalibeeja has very few dialogues.
It was a conscious decision. In south India, we have directors such as Adoor Gopalakrishnan, who have very strong narratives. When I was watching world cinema, somehow the films did not have many dialogues. You are sitting alone in a room, how will you show the mood and the experience with that space? I was thinking on those lines and I am a visual artist, who works on the single frame. I know that the audience is not prepared for something like this but I made it so that they can see it and consider these kinds of films more.
Where did you find inspiration for the characters in the film, especially the protagonist, who is a road engineer?
I have a lot of friends in different fields. Some of them are road engineers. So, I know what they do and how they do it. When I decided to make a road movie, the character became the protagonist.