Time is the first casualty in today’s jet-age. It also means money and serious business. So making the most of it or utilising it with optimum resources at one’s disposal seems the best and safest option for creative heads. The different entertainment mediums are tapping into various avenues to reach out to more and more people with instant effect. From films, music, news updates, cricket scores, share market figures, cookery and fashion tips, live action programmes, adverts, chitchats to current affairs — all private-public data and information are being transmitted through digital platforms in short space and within lesser time-span from one corner of the earth to another. Hence small becomes the new big in showbiz industry too.
Short-length feature films have been much talked about of late as the latest favourite staple of even commercially stable and successful filmmakers nowadays.
Director Sujoy Ghosh had already expressed his desire to continue shooting shorts after his critically-acclaimed epic-thriller Ahalya caused a huge stir on the internet in 2015. He has decided to repeat the doyen Bengali cineactor and a Dadasaheb Phalke Awardee Soumitra Chatterjee in the sequel Ahalya 2.
As the world gradually shrinks into a tiny gadget, be it a tablet, an I-pad or a mobile phone, people increasingly tend to watch and hear everything on the go. Busy schedules and fast-paced lifestyles also prompt consumers to get glued to such technology driven existence. “You’ll find the millennials or today’s Gen-Y always plugged in. They prefer to survive on junk food and are social media addicts at the same time. For them, feel-good entertainment with immediacy is the supreme lure,” observes a trend watcher closely.
Keeping this fad in mind, new age film-production conglomerates take advantage of the unlimited cyberspace and the unstoppable cell phone syndrome. Adopting this cutting-edge method, they webcast a film via webisodic series which seems tight and light on the senses. “This is quite benefitting as we are constantly on our toes, shuttling between schools, colleges, tuition classes, offices and also travelling in public transports. We can check in to live-tweets, showstreams and even resume tuning into a movie to continue watching it,” says 23-year-old Social Science student Shobita Kher. Several apps are on offer to be downloaded from online stores or one can simply log onto the specific website to enjoy the films of limited duration.
Addatimes Media Pvt Ltd is one such address for all e-savvy netizens. Bengali shorts like Bubbles and Khyapa have managed to stir up a positive buzz right from their trailer-launch. Laced with a slew of emotions and diverse slices of urban life, films like Ping, Mickie & Mimi, Adorshini sound promising. It’s true that the retentive power of public memory has shortened in current-day context. But digital flicks with minimal-budget and meagre infrastructural investment are not poor on the content either.
Even bigwig Bollywood filmmakers and producers are investing their money and creative content in digital platforms. Director Vikram Bhatt’s two newly launched web shows Gehraiyaan and Spotlight are running successfully on Viu, the video on demand service of Vuclip, after both released on 31 March.
While popular television soap queen and movie producer Ekta Kapoor’s ALT Balaji is all set to sponsor a digital biopic series on the brave, heroic freedom fighter Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose which serious, realistic film actor Rajkumar Rao is supposed to essay. It would certainly be a challenging role for him to add credence to with the show promising to unfold the untold story of the great leader’s life and exploits.
Currently exploring the thriller space, Bhatt had earlier hit headlines with the trailer-introduction of his erotic venture Maaya which was unveiled online in January at the beginning of 2017. Starring actress Shama Sikander, Maaya was the debut vehicle of Vikram Bhatt in the digital arena. The ongoing cyber-shows — Gehraiyaan is a horror series featuring Sanjeeda Sheikh and Vatsal Sheth and directed by Sidhant Sachdev, whereas Spotlight is helmed by Suhail Tatari with Kolkata actor Tridha Choudhury and performer Sid Makkar, cast in the lead. Its fictional plot hinges around a Bollywood starlet.
Like modern presentation of classical ragas, cinema-exhibition is also getting condensed by the day.
This February, the 7th National Science Film Festival and Competition was hosted at Kolkata’s Birla Industrial & Technological Museum. Consisting of projects based on science, technology, environment and health, the festival package had interestingly included fiveminute movie-capsules made on the spot using mobile phones as one of its categories. Other ventures focused on films made by school-students, college-goers, film-producing companies, independent directors, government and non-government institutions/ organisations, ranging from 10 to 25 minutes.
Incidentally, renowned Iranian auteur Jafar Panahi had previously showed the world how slimsleek smartphones can be a perfect filmmaking tool in the hour of need. He recorded an entire film on his I-phone while being put under house arrest and serving a ban of 20 years that prohibits him from reeling a film as per the State’s order. The incredible creation in question is titled This Is Not a Film and it premiered at the Cannes filmfest in France. Even his docufiction Closed Curtain, which he cohelmed with Kambozia Partovi — his compatriot, friend and an eminent film director and scriptwriter himself — in defiance of the embargo imposed upon his creativity, comprises pictures of filming on a cellphone inside a secret secluded villa.
With the onset of 21st century and at the turn of this millennium, the multiplex-culture gave rise to a realistic Bollywood which was long overdue. More and more performance-oriented plots, characters and meaningful scripts surfaced to the core. Even debutante filmmakers like Farhan Akhtar pitched in message-borne stories instead of walking the safe line of formula potboilers. Dil Chahta Hai and Lakshya reflect this point. As a result, a new kind of cinema evolved, capitalising on both critical appreciation as well as a decent box-office collections.
Neither completely art-house parallel nor typically cash-registers jingling blockbusters, these middle-of-the-road movies in a way broke stereotypes, imported cerebral subjects, questioned and highlighted important issues plus acted as a harbinger for today’s short films to leave a signature mark of their own.
Sagacious experts say that the longer you make a film; chances of faltering with its ensuing complications are always the maximum. Length is the key for any greenhorn to remember and rectify the mistakes suffered in the process. So size does matter here. Even full-length feature films of the seasoned pros many feel, should not exceed the standard duration of one-and-half hour.
Short films are a perfect stepping stone for freshers and film students to take that giant professional leap in the film industry. “Due to reasons like paucity of funds, easier execution levels, tackling of the technical difficulties in a better fashion and a diminished attention-span of the audience, it is always wise to begin with a short at the very outset of an enthusiastic aspirant’s career,” advocates singer-songwriter, bandster (of The Tapi Project fame) and a filmmaker in his own right, Yogendra Saniyawala.
“It is more convenient to learn, understand and grasp the basic ropes of filmmaking with either a non-fiction documentary or a short-length fiction right at the nascent stage. For there are certain restrictions that you inevitably bump into for coping with them in the long run,” says the maker of Vyoms Letters, a short film of 23 minutes which was shot over three days at real locations in Surat, Gujarat to add authenticity to the output. It travelled to eight premium international film festivals, winning accolades on the way as well as being aired on NDTV Prime. Having literally multitasked on his maiden short, the lone captain of the ship wrote, edited, composed music and even acted in his own movie.
Everybody seems a prospective filmmaker these days. Professional filmmakers and photographers occasionally show qualms with the rampant usage of mobile-phones to click stills from different angles or record moving images to generate a film out of the blue without any keen visual and compositional sense. Many get miffed with this random practice and find it disturbingly redundant. They fathom that this could pose a shocking threat to an otherwise aesthetic world of artforms like cinema or photography. “See, filmmaking is after all, a labour of love. So innovation is expected at every stage of its making. No matter what the ingredients are, the recipe must reach our hearts through our stomachs ultimately!” concludes a movie buff.