Posts Tagged ‘Aakra-Man’

We are premiering a short film on our blog for the first time. A short i saw during Mumbai Film Festival and liked it. It starts with an intro by its director Mihir Desai. Over to him.

It’s been a year, almost since our short film Aakra-Man first screened at Mumbai Film Festival in 2011. We’ve been dying to post it online but weren’t allowed due to its festival run. Here it is, finally the online premiere of our DIY superhero short, Aakra-Man.

I am never really keen on writing intros or ‘making – of’ posts before my film is watched. Anyone wanting to criticize my work should have the freedom to do so without thinking about how much I struggled to make a film, because frankly everyone goes through that struggle. Most importantly it’s always fun to let the film speak for itself and to see how the audience reacts and interprets my vision.  (Ed – and so i am stopping him right here. Watch the film and then read the rest.)

So I decided to write about something else. Let me jump right into it. (This may or may not be directly related to Aakra-Man so feel free to skip it)

‘Rogue methodology’ is a myth. As filmmakers we are constantly involved in the process of making films, we see our film over and over again. When I put a shot in my film, it’s there for a reason. It’s by choice I’ve added or removed something. You don’t shoot a film with multiple cameras just because you can. The format you shoot a film on is as important as the screenplay of your film. Aakra-Man is essentially a mockumentary. Shooting with a slightly faster shutter speed on digital SLRs helped me achieve what I wanted. It looks more “video” than “film” because ‘videos’ like this would usually come on television and not in theatres. From what I’ve seen, it seems like ‘rogue methodology’ has zero thought behind using a certain format or camera therefore shots end up looking like mistakes or ‘NG Takes.’ The first rule of DSLR filmmaking is, to understand the flaws of these cameras. Only then can you come up with innovative ways to adapt to this new technology. It’s really annoying when popular filmmakers make use of this technology without educating themselves. This is a big threat to smaller filmmakers because once a DSLR feature flops not a single investor will trust its potential. I’ve been working with video DSLRs for a long time and I know a lot of great independent filmmakers making such good use of these cameras. Unfortunately it’ll go unnoticed; DSLR filmmaking in India will continue to be discouraged.

Overwhelmed by the size of these cameras, followers of rogue methodology have probably forgotten that films are first and foremost an emotional experience. If the audience is only talking about how the film has been shot, the filmmaker has failed. Struggles and techniques should be invisible because all of that adds up to the story one is trying to say. That is of utmost importance. Although I agree with Mr. Rogue when he says the cameras should be invisible to the actors but in that process the director shouldn’t become invisible too!! There is only so much an actor can bring to the table. If he or she is a ‘good’ actor they’ll come prepared with the look, body language, research, back story, accent, etc but the rest is how the director moulds their performance. The “why” is the director’s job and the “how” is the actor’s job. Rogue method seems to completely disregard this fact.

If rogue methodology wasn’t enough we have studios trying to put a ban on Vimeo. The reason I make short films is because I get the freedom to experiment. I am aware that when I make a short film I’ll be distributing it online only. My investment is always very low because I won’t make any money after releasing my film online. However, what I will get instead is an audience. This audience of mine, will hopefully support me when I eventually make a feature in the future or make more shorts for the Internet. By banning a distribution site like Vimeo the studios are not only putting an end to creativity but destroying the niche we independent filmmakers have created for ourselves. I can confidently speak for a lot of my fellow indie filmmakers and say that our intent has never been to compete with studios. We just want to co-exist. Vimeo is not just a distribution website, we can use it to share footage and collaborate globally. With the consent of my filmmaker friends abroad I’ve used footage they’ve shot in my documentary Common Thread and they can do the same with mine. Collaboration without increasing production cost! Banning Vimeo is just taking all these privileges away from independent filmmakers. When I was re-cutting Aakra-Man I never thought it would end up becoming ‘just another YouTube video.’ Sadly that’ll be my primary source of distribution here. Social media is a really powerful tool, see what you can do by getting the hashtag #SaveVimeo to trend. It’s really important to the indie film community.

Aakra-Man is just a film about someone who is struggling to ‘fit in.’ Rahul Desai has written and acted this part. We hope this video is worth your time. Our plan for the future is to make a feature length version of this film so please help spread the word and share your thoughts, rate/review it on IMDb. For best quality, watch the film on Aakra-Man’s official website (this is a Vimeo embed, if your network allows it watch it here) Those in US or Canada can download a full HD version for free on iTunes. The rest can watch an embedded version below (please watch it in full HD)

Download Alex Marianyi’s soundtrack for free:

Lastly, please bookmark http://www.aakraman.com . It’s a work in progress website we will be allowing free download of the screenplay and if people are interested to know about the making of the film then a possible commentary by Rahul and me.

Mihir Desai

Mumbai Dimensions is a unique initiative to spot the young and the emerging talents in the city. And the rules are simple – 1. You have to be Under-25. 2. Duration can’t be more than 5mins. 3. The film should be about the city. The prizes include Silver Gateway trophies and cash prize of Rs. One Lakh and Rs. 50,000/- for the best two shorts. This year’s jury includes Kiran Rao, Vikramaditya Motwane, Nishikant Kamat, Onir and Renuka Shahane.

Shorts are always challenging. And when there is a restriction on duration and subject, it’s bound to get tougher. Surprisingly there was a long queue for the shorts too. But thanks to some last minute smartness, some of us managed to get in at the right time. This year there are 20 films in this section. I have a film theory called U-25 which i generally use to dismiss the views of kids ( read U-25) when we are discussing cinema. Well, it’s a joke, but after watching all the 20 films, i think there is some truth in my U-25 theory. The simple logic is if you haven’t seen/lived/experienced life enough, you can’t make a good film. And 25 is just too little to do that. Of course age is just a number, and a theory is a theory. But why are we making such terrible films and telling bad stories with such a cliche treatment? We all do shitty stuff but as long as you can separate the shit from the rest, I think you are in right direction.

For many young filmmakers this must have been a big news that their short is selected for MFF but if this is the best we got, we seriously are not telling them the difference between good and bad cinema. I may be completely wrong but here’s my reactions to the shorts and the bets on the best.

1. Unearthed – Split screen is not experimental, it’s passe. Montage is NOT a film.

2. The Few Unfortunates – Parallel stories criss-crossing each other. Nice idea but better execution could have taken it to another level.

3. Aakra-man – A mockumentary on a superhero who speaks in Marathi,  loves the Mumbai city but can’t do much. Smart and easily stands out from the rest.

4. Ek Titli Ka Aks – You hear a voice-over and can make out that it’s by an old person but you see a young man on screen. Credit roll tells us it’s Tom Alter’s voice. So Alter recites a poetry and a young man tries to experience Mumbai. There is no sync, no emotion.

5. Krishanna – A monologue shot as a dialogue where characters are narrating their experience about the city. Great idea, very badly made.

6. Bombay Snow – Pure cinema, pure joy! This one stands out and how! Miles ahead of the rest. Unlike others, it doesn’t even try to force the “Mumbai” factor in the narrative but touches upon so many subjects beautifully – displacement issue, rural versus urban, and a young kid trying to understand the equation between dad, mom and a prostitute. Director is Chinmay Nagesh Dalvi. Dear Festival Programmers, if you are looking for shorts, pick this one!

7. Vani – The city through its sounds and visuals. Another montage.

8. This Circle Is Mine – A documentary on the guy who stands at Mumbai’s Juhu Circle holding a placard to spread the message of love and peace. Many of us have often wondered about the old man. The film tells us bit more about him. A straight narrative that doesn’t do much justice to the man’s mission or life. Great idea to pick this interesting character but a great opportunity lost too as it keeps on repeating the same things.

9. Life Is A Beach – A love story between a geek and a ship (or aliens). Very interesting take, nicely executed but this one reminds me of Abhay’s previous short Just That Sort Of A Day – similar mood, same style of voice-over.

10. Face To Face – A funny little story in this big bad Mumbai city.

11 The Waiting City – Blasts happens. People wait. Badly done.

12. Facelift – A silent short which beautifully captures the issue of mills turning into malls. The film is DOP’s show-reel for sure.

13. ‘O’ Brother??? What Art Thou.. – Finally, a short with political context. Perhaps the only city in this country where “Bhaiyya” is an abuse. And those who have never visited Mumbai, will never understand this weird problem. Nice attempt.

14. Mehrooni – This could have been set in any other city and it wouldn’t have mattered. A saccharine love story of a couple that’s says everything it shows and shows everything it says. The voice-over is unnecessary, it’s too sweet, too fake and overtly sentimental. Even Rekha Bhardwaj’s vocals could not help. Only good point – it’s well shot.

15. Adrak – A nice little love story between a photographer and a tourist that happens at the Gateway of India.

16. Khawacha – Tries to capture the politics of the game that kids play. Good idea, bad treatment.

17. Duplicate – Captures the life of three duplicates – Anil Kapoor, Govinda and Devanand’s lookalikes. But doesn’t say/discover much beyond what we all know. Also, the subject has been covered million times. If only it could have tried to dig deeper.

18. 2733-see You On The Other Side – Works at the idea level but very tacky production.

19. Life Line – Story of Trains. It just doesn’t translate what the director is trying to say. Bad.

20. Rastaa – Story of two street urchins that doesn’t say anything new or in any new way.

And here’s my pick –

1. Bombay Snow – The best. Has no competition.

2. Aakra-Man and Life Is A Beach.

3. Facelift

Let’s see what the jury decides to go with. And if the best one doesn’t win, always remember that any cinema award always says more about the jury and less about the films. Waiting and how!