When Tushar Waghela decided to make a film with a narrative structure,the theme came easy for a man who has spent nearly two decades practising the visual arts in various forms. It would be based on the search of a story and its characters,he and his writer-painter wife Priyanka decided.
A year and Rs 3 lakh later,their effort,Vichar Chhaya,or Shadow of Thoughts,was screened at Cannes,the first film by a Chhattisgarh director to go that far.
The film shows a writer immersed in his fictional world and who suddenly locates his lost character in a painter. Every successive scene in the illusory narrative challenges whatever the previous one had suggested is the painter real or a mere reflection of the writers thoughts?
Tushar,37,has had no formal training in art or cinema. The Durg resident not only produced and directed but also handled the camera,edited,and composed the sound,handling all all pre- and post-production work at home. Priyanka wrote the story,composed its verses,weaving into the narrative a series of these poems and paintings from Tushars Storyteller series. It was while painting this series in 2006 that the idea of a film had struck an author in search of a story.
The film develops through poems. We decided dialogues should be in the form of poems, says Priyanka,who was pregnant during the shooting and had to stay home. He would often call home and discuss ideas with her.
One reason the 29-minute film could be shot on such a budget was that the crew worked without fees. Music composer Sagar Das Manikpuri recreated Chhattisgarhi folk tunes. The two protagonists,Maan Singh and Shubhagnil Singh,are both fine arts graduates from Khairagarh University and novices in cinema. Tushar made them watch over 100 films in several languages. Still,after the first shoot,he scrapped over 50 per cent of the film and reshot it.
Shot on location in the hills of Dongargarh,Khairagarh and Ambikapur and other parts of the state,the film had to do without light reflectors. Tushar often to wait till the sun rays were just right.
For the last two years,Tushar has been living off the sale of his paintings. The paintings,video art and X-ray photography have been exhibited at galleries worlwided,while an eight-minute video art,Phantom of The Land on acquisition in Bastar,has been screened in Paris.
Once the new film was done,he kept it a secret from even his friends. He sent a copy to Cannes,from where the authorities informed him it had been selected for screening in the open section,he says.
He could not travel to Cannes. His baby is only months old and he preferred to be with Priyanka rather than walk the red carpet alone. Next time, he says.
I dont know whats happened there. Probably the organisers will soon send me comments, Tushar says. The Cannes film festival ended on Sunday.