Shubhra Vandit is an international filmmaker who believes in the “art of understatement”. Having been recognized for his work and appreciated for his culturally relevant films, the director has won accolades at the Paris Play Film Festival, Barcelona Human Rights Film Festival and was also invited to the Cannes last year.
He has been making films for the last five years. Currently, he is working on an Indo-Canadian film about an Indian orphan girl – a poignant story of the unfolding of her life.
The director also has been experimenting with all genres and formats, having made a successful venture with social documentaries and fictional dramas in Europe.
His other awareness, public-service films have been appreciated and taken on by various government bodies and organisations across the world for their social relevance.
Street Talk, was selected by the Jio Mami, Mumbai Film Festival, where it received critical appreciation. Another project of his which is yet to do the festival rounds is The Lonely Chair.
He is known for his works, Street Talk, Las Ventanas and Paola.
Thestatesman.com spoke with the experimental director about his process and his choice of films and content.
Why do you make these kind of films?
I make these films because people with goals about social welfare find it tough to get support since their work isn’t commercial, and investors won’t exactly be getting an ROI. It’s tough to go on by oneself. If my skills can be of use to such people with a noble cause in reaching their goal, it’s the best achievement. There are people who want to help, but are skeptical or unaware of institutions doing genuine work, my films can help create credibility and connect them.
We, as a human race crave connection. I believe that, stories have the power to comfort us with that, and a well narrated story can become one of the most treasured moments of our lifetimes. In my life, during times of solitude when even my closest of kith and kin seemingly failed to understand me, watching a film provided me with a sense of belonging. I want to reciprocate the same in my films.
I want that these ideas spread amongst the youth, in metropolitan cities, especially. Being aware of the issues prevailing in our society and how people find means to overcome them does change the way one lives their life. As an example, after making ‘street talk’, a film about a homeless person in Barcelona who teaches Spanish for a living, I made it a point to have a conversation with any homeless person I came across. Even if I didn’t have money to spare, I would just sit and talk with them because as the subject of Street Talk says, “we are invisible”, we as a society look down on them and completely ignore them. Giving them your attention can make a world of difference to them.
My next film deals with yet another social issue, water pollution and conservation. I am also working on an international feature film based on the journey of an orphan girl child who is adopted by a foreign couple.
What are your views on philosophy of life and people, considering this plays such an important role in your films?
I am here for emotions and experiences.
Follow’s Bruce Lee’s philosophy – Absorb what is useful, discard what is not, add what is essentially your own. So the idea is not to be stuck with any belief system, continually re- evaluate yourself.
‘Better an ‘Oops’ than a ‘What if’…
Always fascinated with what drives people, how making one choice over other affects the quality of their lives.
What moved you to make the film on differently-abled and other offbeat subjects like Street Talk and Paola?
Since childhood, I was reserved by nature. With Hip-hop and then with films, I found my belongingness. The subjects of these films had struggled with similar issues in their lives and they found their belongingness in their professions. I related with their struggle. Hence I wanted to spread their stories.
Your film Windows is again different, especially the editing is like a maze walk, as you oscillate between past and present, thoughts and reality – how did you develop this style?
I always find myself delving in introspection and retrospection. I feel that your future depends on what choices you make. Every choice you make leads to further choices and these choices define the quality of your life.
KRS ONE, a Hip Hopper and philosopher – spoke about a visualization method – what advise the 5 – 10 years elder you would give the now, you. And then make your choice accordingly.