Thursday, August 26, 2010

‘Sapno Ke Desh Mein’

Everybody is not as lucky as Anusha Rizvi, who first directorial venture is picked-up by someone like Aamir Khan and the film is marketed like a blockbuster. This is not to deny that Pipli [Live] is not a worthwhile effort. It is. So are other first-time efforts which are invariably lost in the gimmick of the chaotic Bollywood. Chennai-based filmmaker Chetan Shah's debut 'Sapno Ke Desh Mein' is a fine example. The film, which opens today in Pune, in a multiplex, for just one show a day is in the making for the last four years. Shot digitally (which looks breathtakingly beautiful), the film has seen its share of trouble in finding audience. Now, the film is being released city by city, and the only hope for Shah is the word of mouth publicity, that people go and see the film.

Here's more about the movie: (From the press release)

Sapno Ke Desh Mein’ is an independently-made feature film that released in Mumbai on 23rd April 2010, and follows as a staggered release in other metros and mini metros. The film opened in Hyderabad and Bangalore on May 14th and plays in Pune from August 27th.

In an era of the Digital Technology revolution that has engulfed the film industry, ‘Sapno Ke Desh Mein’ is the first feature film released in the country that is High Definition (HD) Digital from script to screen.

Stretching the conventions of production technology and storytelling, the film has experimented in a number of areas: Narrative structure, cinematic form, background score, songs in a Hindi-English, raga-rock fusion. Not bound by norms or formulas ‘Sapno Ke Desh Mein’ makes for an unusual cinema-going experience in the country today. The film is an attempt to entertain an audience without pandering to them.

‘Sapno Ke Desh Mein’ (CBFC ‘U’. 106 minutes) is about a group of college students who think that a harmless prank has resulted in their Dean’s death. They cover their tracks making it look like an accident but as the law closes in on them, they uncover a sinister plot behind the death and have to implicate the real culprits to establish their innocence.

The film is a murder mystery, with humour and romance. Within this murder mystery format the film engages with a broader theme questioning the veracity of what the camera records and the authenticity of what the eye sees. One theme the film explores is that both of these frames – the camera and the mind’s eye - are equally capable of distorting reality.

Making of the film: A classic case of going the Digital way.

'Sapno Ke Desh Mein' has been shot on the newly available High Definition Digital format which involves a huge cost saving for independent filmmakers, plus enhanced image and sound quality. Digital offers extraordinary possibilities for image manipulation, colour correction and CG in post. The film is to be exhibited at theatres equipped with HD Digital projection systems which involves a huge saving on 35 mm print costs, offers a clean projected image without pinholes and scratches, top quality six track surround sound, and avoids messy reel change-overs.

The film was originally shot as a Hindi–English mix using live synch recording. The predominantly English version ‘Framed’ had a limited release in Chennai at a time when there were few digital theatres in the multiplexes. A re-edited, predominantly Hindi version is now hitting theatres, thanks to the boom in digital projection.

MusicThe theme music and background score - using only guitar sounds - have been composed and performed by Boston-based guitarist Prasanna on acoustic and electric guitar – no other instrument has been used. Prasanna scored the music for the Oscar winning documentary ‘Smile Pinki’. The movie also has four songs composed by four different ad-film music directors. The film experiments in a number of areas, music being one of them: the songs are woven into realistic situations.

Cast and Crew The cast is a mix of experienced stage actors and first timers. The young ensemble cast have been painstakingly assembled after extensive auditions across the country and largely drawn from Mumbai, Chennai and Bangalore theatre. Actor Rohan Gupta studied drama in New York and is working in Mira Nair’s forthcoming production. Lekha Washington was an IPL anchor and has bagged a number of plum Tamil and Hindi film roles. Karthik Kumar runs a successful theatre group and is an accomplished screen actor. Film stalwarts like Dhritiman Chaterji and Tinnu Anand, as well as consummate senior stage actors, gave the newcomers guidance and confidence.

Acclaimed cinematographer Navroze Contactor has wielded the HD Digital camera and noted classical-contemporary dancer Nirmala Seshadri has choreographed the dance movements for natural spontaneity.

Writer - DirectorChetan Shah, a philosophy graduate from Cambridge, worked on David Lean’s ‘A Passage to India’ before he established himself as an independent filmmaker of international documentaries, ads, corporate videos, and TV serials. His Malay language serial for Singapore TV achieved top ratings and won six awards. Chetan Shah has written three plays in English which have been successfully staged. ‘Sapno Ke Desh Mein’ is his first feature film.

What the director has to say on going Digital:“HD Digital empowers independent filmmaking both in terms of budget and cinematic choices. For one thing we were able to work with tremendously talented first time actors. We conducted auditions, found our cast, workshop-ed them into the characters they play. During the shoot we didn’t have to worry about conserving footage – we went upto 20 takes sometimes; shot 40 hours of footage for a 2 hour movie – a luxury for a low budget production. Also, digital allows easy ways to alter and tweak images in post. Coming to exhibition we could stay with Digital Projection which is gaining currency by the day. More and more theatres are installing state-of-the-art digital projection systems. This not only involves a huge saving on 35 mm print costs but offers pristine clean prints and full surround sound. So at no point in the production – shooting, editing, audio-post, exhibition – did we revert to analogue. HD Digital is the technology of the future and I’m proud we were among the first to embrace it.”

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