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Interview Bengali

Linear narratives can be limiting, says experimental filmmaker Souradeep Datta

The director's short film, Colour Palette Of A Soldier (2020), depicts the futility of war with an interplay of colours and metaphorical images.  

Roushni Sarkar

 Souradeep Datta’s experimental short film, Colour Palette Of A Soldier (2020) is being widely recognised in the international film circuit. The film, which premiered at the Istanbul International Experimental Film Festival earlier this year, has also cleared the first round of selection for the Atlanta Film Festival to be held in September. 

An official entry to this year's Saigaon Experimental Film Festival to be held in October and the Tatsuno International Film Festival in September, the short will also be screened at the Kolkata International Film Festival later this year. 

Datta, who has always experimented with sound, words and visuals, made his first short film, Rust And The Goldfish in 2017. His upcoming film, S E C R E T S has been shot in the Himalayas.

The Colour Palette Of A Soldier looks at the reality of war and the soldiers fighting it with the help of metaphorical visuals and symbols. The film manages to convey volumes with its interplay of colours and images. 

In a conversation with Cinestaan.com, the filmmaker spoke about why he decided to make an experimental film instead of one that would have appealed to the masses. 

Can you explain your thoughts behind the play of colours in Colour Palette Of A Soldier?

Soldiers are trapped in a war. They want to experience the colours of life but are caught in the grey shades of life. A soldier doesn’t necessarily intend to kill someone even in a war, but he has to pull the trigger whenever the situation demands. He is then forced to kill his own colours that represent the pleasures, dreams and emotions of life.

I have tried to project this idea in an abstract manner through an interplay of metaphorical images and colours in the film.

In the beginning, there is a visual with psychedelic red and blue colours. Red represents the warmth and vibrancy of life, while blue stands for its cold side. There is also a visual of a small ant dragging the dead body of a larger ant. Here, the small ant stands for the soldiers and the large one for the futile ideas of war. Then we have tried to portray war through the soundscape and the visual of a wounded soldier.

However, the film ends with hope and optimism. There is also an echo of ‘wake up’ in the background to remind the soldier of the beautiful reality of life.

Why did you choose to make an experimental film?

Firstly, not many experimental films are made in this part of the world. However, I believe these days, a larger audience has emerged for experimental works due to platforms such as Moviesaints and MUBI. People have more access and exposure to artistic and independent films. Some 30-40 years ago, the situation was not the same.

Now cinephiles, even though small in number as compared to the audience of commercial films, are enjoying this format of filmmaking, where it is possible to engage them with the power of visual and audio tools. This is not easy to achieve in any other art form.

Sometimes films with a linear narrative come with limitations as they cannot portray the ideas inside the head of a character. On the other hand, experimental films can create textures, lights and moods through intellectual montage for a different impact.

For example, you won’t get the same understanding of the film if I narrated the script of Colour Palette Of A Soldier. It is only possible to achieve the effect through visuals and a thoughtful design.

I sincerely believe in Andrei Tarkovsky’s philosophy of investing more in the journey of filmmaking rather than in its destiny. It is important to feel and enjoy the certain soundscapes, cut points and the transitions of a film. It is true that the target audience of the film could be a few selected people, and certainly not those who are only exposed to commercial films.

Colour Palette Of A Soldier is currently streaming on MovieSaints.com.

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