Choosing poetry and Performance gave him the freedom to experiment as a poetic element can do more justice in bringing the complexities of place and characters. “Real experiences with poems and the elements of protest in a measured way that is poetic in nature. It also helped me create a kind of breathing space that I intended to bring in for the audience,” he says…reports Asian Lite News
The permanent greys eclipse “suitable” narratives and silences emerge as the loudest voices. There is poetry, there are elements of Performance Art. The film “I’m Not The River Jhelum” on Kashmir may refuse to follow any linear narrative, but it cuts right through.
Nuclear physicist turned filmmaker Prabhash Chandra’s movie that earned him the ‘Best debut director award from India’ at the International Competition Section of the 26th International Film Festival of Kerala held in March this year is an elegy to torn lives forced to reinterpret what reality means — every day.
Based on the time spent between 2013 and 2018 in Pulwama where he conducted theatre workshops and took physics classes, this Delhi resident says that during the course of his stay, he got an opportunity to engage with the community. “I interacted with many people and started journaling whatever I observed. It was clear that a certain uncertainty never left their being. The journaling gave me a structure to start with. As an artist, the greatest degree of inner tranquillity comes when you are able to express what you want to. And I wanted to express my personal belief and understanding of the place. I did the fundamental work with Sukriti Khurana, my long-term collaborator and came up with the idea of making this film,” he tells.
Stressing that he feels a sense of belonging to the Valley and is able to understand the context and culture of the place, Chandra adds, “In the beginning, it was challenging for me to understand the language and to be a part of the place itself. When you spend a long time somewhere, you get a better understanding of it. I felt like I was part of the place.”
“Since childhood, we were served a certain kind of narrative about Kashmir. Mainstream media contributed a great deal to forming those notions. However, when I actually started visiting and working there with students my experience was completely different. There is a huge gap in the perception and ground reality,” he says.
For Chandra, it was important to record the numbness and the silence of a situation when one is speechless, and not just in a literal sense. “During the scripting process, I kept in mind that the effort had to be to touch the inner state of characters and Kashmir at large. Precisely why, I decided to take long takes so as to capture the time within a scene.”
Choosing poetry and Performance gave him the freedom to experiment as a poetic element can do more justice in bringing the complexities of place and characters. “Real experiences with poems and the elements of protest in a measured way that is poetic in nature. It also helped me create a kind of breathing space that I intended to bring in for the audience,” he says.
Feeling that he has “grown up” with the film, the director says the independent filmmaking ecosystem is in a miserable state in the country. “We are in a miserable state. We are struggling at different levels. Difficulty does not lie just at the level of making a movie, but also in finding venues for screening and reaching out to the audience. A proper support system for independent filmmakers is desperately needed. Besides, rather than supporting us, the government has decided to merge the government film media units.”
He feels that the film festival circuit, which is extremely important for young filmmakers is also in a dark place at the moment. “Every state should have a film festival like the one in Kerala,” concludes the filmmaker who is currently working on his next film that revolves around the lives of migrants coming to a big city in search of livelihood.
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