Every cloud has a silver lining

Having initially started out as a short film director, Sourav Sarkar’s journey as a film-maker has been extensive and diligent…

Every cloud has a silver lining

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Having initially started out as a short film director, Sourav Sarkar’s journey as a film-maker has been extensive and diligent over the last 3-4 years. His recent feature film, “Dugdhonkor,” after its release in 2015 has garnered over 15 lakh viewership worldwide, but being screened at the 3rd India International Festival at Tampa Bay, Florida, marked the beginning of his journey, while his documentary “Nibhritochari” after its premiere at Nandan, got screened for the Indian Association of Retired Persons, Kolkata as well as got officially nominated at the 3rd International Film Festival at Prayag, Delhi, 2017. Excerpts from an exclusive interview

Congratulations on your work getting international acclaim. Can you tell us about the journey?
My journey, briefly, can be regarded as one of inner confidence. Most were apprehensive of me taking a career-shift. But I knew I’d be able to communicate with my viewers strongly through my films. The journey was challenging and even depressing at times, but nothing could stop me.

You had initially started out as a short film director. ‘Nibhritochari’ is a documentary film. But ‘Dugdhonkor’ is a feature length film. Was there any particular reason why you chose to shift from short films, and how was the experience? In comparison to documentaries/short films, how hard was it to make a full length film?
Every film has its own unique characteristics. I did not shift from one type to the other; I believed I’d be able to reach viewers through all these different types, at different points of time. Certain concepts need to be expressed in two hours length; some need only 5-10 minutes. It depends on what the film-maker is conceiving. But, from technical point of view, a full length feature film needs more research, workshop, time and money too.


Did you have any prior training in the field? Can you tell us something about your mentors (if any) and how they inspired you?
I did not do any formal training for films but being an engineer, I had prior ideas about the steps and management behind developing any product. A film is technically an emotion driven product. Since childhood, I possessed a strong inclination to understand emotions and emote myself. I used to play some musical instruments, wrote poems and short-stories, was technologically sound through my previous professional experience too. Rest of the skills grew while making films one after another. However, I am inspired by the well-known seniors over the country to learn and implement new things every day.

What prompted you, as an individual, to recognize that filmmaking was not just a hobby, but that it would be your life and your living?
It is not possible for the society to realize how much effort, perspiration and brain-work is required to make films maintaining standards. After starting my first film, I understood that it’s a full-time involvement. No other major responsibility can share the brain-space with it.

How has it been like, following your dream? Were there any particular periods of struggle/difficulties in pursuing the same?
Following my dreams is a matter of great satisfaction and meaningfulness to me. But the joy increases when I see others also following their own dreams. A dreamer understands a dreamer most. There is struggle, and inevitably would be. If one has new dreams, one needs to struggle for implementing that. I have talked to successful seniors very often. And they are always in struggle too – for delivery consistent quality.

Are there any particular films that have been the most inspiring or influential to you, and why?
I am very fond of Asian films. Films from Korea, China, and Thailand inspire me very much as I can relate as lot with them, as well as Indian classics. Some films from Europe, Iran and Latin America gave me a good scope for observation  and learning. 

Is it harder to get started or to keep going? What was the particular thing that you had to conquer to do either?
It is hard every moment. Independent film-making is a social movement. Here you speak freely on social and psychological aspects. Freedom of concepts and presentation can go to a large extent – nobody can question whether that is already proven popular. No compromise with freedom at the cost of apparent business demands. The challenge is to make viewers hungry for new concepts and styles. This is a culture which needs to start from our early education period. I personally interact a lot with viewers. It is just not ‘making’ films, it is way beyond. 

What was the most important lesson you had to learn that has had a positive effect on your films? How did that lesson happen?
“Every cloud has a silver lining”. I see life in an optimistic manner. Even if my film has a depressing tone according to the need of script, there is an underlying optimism.

What are some personal attributes that make for a good filmmaker in your opinion, and what do you do to foster them?
To me, a good film-maker should have a commendable grasp over all the departments in film-making. He should lead the team with confidence and clarity, and then only others will be encouraged to work with him.

What makes a film great for you? Are there any certain qualities that make a film better for you?
Being a film-maker, it’s very difficult to judge greatness of other films as I find many things to learn from every film. However, I personally appreciate classical narrations. Films with unique subject matter attract me more, and then come the craft of it.

Are there any common qualities in cinema today that you dislike? Is there something you try to subvert or avoid or rebel against in your work?
In India, untouched concepts, coming out of deep intellect, are not getting proper space in cinema. Experiments are less in number. There is only a few, and that also not properly acknowledged. This is pretty unfortunate. I try to avoid stereotyping as much as possible. 

What advice would you give to someone who wants to have a life in filmmaking?

Satisfy yourself first, then satisfy others. Don’t stop in face of any adversity if you are confident. Don’t try to be famous by making films. Rather, it’s healthy to think on how mankind gets long-term benefit through your film, and your ideas. Fame will automatically come to you.