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Interview Hindi

Most filmmaking is a race against time, says Abhishek Chaubey

The filmmaker was part of a panel for the 50 Hour Filmmaking challenge which was held from 28–30 September.

Our Correspondent

The India Film Project heads into its ninth edition and will be held on 12 and 13 October. As usual, this year included the 50 Hour Filmmaking Challenge which pushes participants to script, shoot and edit their project within the given time. Known as one of the world's largest filmmaking challenges, it included 35,000 filmmakers, 1,700 teams, 325 cities and 14 countries this year.

The panellists, meanwhile, comprised filmmakers Abhishek Chaubey, Anjali Menon, Pal Nalin and Pradeep Sarkar. Chaubey, director of Udta Punjab (2016) and Sonchiriya (2019), spoke about the filmmaking process. Excerpts:

When you sit to judge filmmakers, what goes on in your mind? How does one judge filmmaking?

Essentially, the person should be instinctive. I am really looking for a good story that is told very well; that’s the essential criterion. That’s what you are really looking for. Technically, you judge a film, but all that is secondary. What matters is how the story has been told.

How do you react to the idea of 50 hours of filmmaking?

I think it’s a tremendous initiative. Most filmmaking is a race against time and all filmmakers, regardless of whether they are making a film in 50 hrs or 50 days, are essentially thinking on their feet. Skills like problem-solving and [people] management are essential while shooting a film. In the 50 hours challenge, these become very critical. The filmmaker has to think out of the box and come up with innovative ideas to make the film in the stipulated time. It’s a great learning experience.

In your view, does a platform like India Film Project help content creators?

I think it does great service to young filmmakers. Back when I started, 15-20 years ago, this kind of opportunity wasn’t available. With something like this, young filmmakers get a platform where they can show their skills to people at large and get rewarded and credited for their work. I think that’s good because it brings a sense of confidence in them as they go ahead. I think it’s great that India Film Project is doing this.

When you judge the work of an aspiring writer or filmmaker, does it also take you back to your early days as a filmmaker?

It sure does. Even when I started out or was trying to write some things or show my skills to people, the only problem was that I could write in my computer but whom am I going to show it to? The technique of filmmaking has become simpler now and you can use your smartphone and laptop to actually make a film. But the basic grammar of filmmaking and the creative challenge of filmmaking remains the same; so, technically and financially it has become easy, but I think storytelling is an innate art form and it will be lovely to see young filmmakers try to show their skills. I am very interested in seeing what kind of stories and what are the subjects of their stories to understand what is it that concerns them, what is it that bothers them to make a story on it.

What do you think has most changed you in these years as a writer-director?

I have evolved in the films that I have not put in much more work in the last couple of decades. And I now know better what sort of ideas work on screen, I know the limitations of the media, I know the limitations of the medium, I know my limitations as a filmmaker also, so it helps me with the experience that I have got. If you were to ask how different I am as a person, I have aged, you know. I was very young, early 20s, and now early 40s so obviously what age brings with you that has happened. But essentially I’m the same person, enough to do something about it or make films about it.

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India Film Project