Blue Mountains – A take on Reality Television and its impact
Inspired by the current trend of reality shows and the impact they have on participants, especially the young kids who partake in such competitions, Writer – Director Suman Ganguli and Producer Raujesh Jain came up with the idea of Blue Mountains. As Suman puts it, the film revolves around ‘music as competition, inspiration and as therapy too’. The film which has been doing the rounds of children’s film festivals and receiving accolades there will have a theatrical release on April 7.
Pandolin chatted with the director – producer duo to know more about the making of the film and the relevance it holds in today’s time.
Suman Ganguli, Writer – Director
What triggered the idea of making a film around reality TV?
Reality shows have taken TV by storm and have also provided a necessary platform to discover and tap hidden talents around the country, which would have been lost over time or would have been otherwise left unnoticed. It’s an amazing thing how a viewer gets his/her sentiments attached to a particular participant and are heartbroken at their unpredictable elimination.
The idea (for the film) came across one fine evening when watching one such singing reality show, where I thought if an elimination can shake a viewer so much, then what trauma the child must have undergone at the nationwide defeat he had to face. That’s when I started to research about the participants who had lost at many such shows and their stories, and I felt that it’s the need of the hour to educate parents and teachers to not just inculcate the drive to win but to also inculcate an emotional fortitude in case they don’t (win).
How important was it to base the story around a young kid rather than an adult?
Adults have better coping mechanisms to deal with losses or failures, even if we’re talking about reality shows. I particularly chose a child because a child’s psychology is way more complex than an adult’s, especially at teenage. My protagonist is hence, a teenager at the brink of youth, who has only been made to see the bright side of winning but he hasn’t been prepared, for there can be something else in store for him and it’s for the parents too, to realise what values they need to cultivate childhood onwards.
How did you cast your protagonist, the young boy? What were you looking for while casting this character?
I was looking for a boy whose looks fit into the age group I had visualised i.e. adolescence. We had been searching for our protagonist for a long time. When we came across Yatharth (Ratnum), we asked him to perform a few lines and he read like he was reading a newspaper. And then he was asked to sing and when he did, he gave us goosebumps, that’s when we learnt that he too had been a runner up of Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Lil champs 2009 and he had a first hand experience of losing at the crux of winning.
Also I wanted someone who could sing in the film too, since my protagonist would need to as he’s an aspiring singer and needed to perform numerous times in the reality show. It’s then that I finally found my Som and sought to give Yatharth acting workshops rigorously for over six months along with the other kids in the film.
What role does music play in the film, what brief did you give to the music composers which included the Late Aadesh Shrivastava?
Since Blue Mountains is a film based on a singing reality show, it revolves around music as competition, inspiration and as therapy too. A lot of detail has been paid to the mood of a song at its juncture in the film. My brief to all the music directors was different, for each song had a different mood. ‘Bheeni Bheeni Bhor’ is a unique fusion of Rock and classical music, and ‘Kaarey Badra’ has been sung by two different singers to compliment the two different phases of Gracy Singh (Som’s mother).
When I went to Aadesh Ji, he had asked me the situations to get to know the mood of the songs he had to compose, but I insisted on narrating the story to him as the story flows and moves ahead with these songs. The songs are a part of the narrative themselves, such is their importance.The songs Aadesh ji had intelligently given to the film were ‘Vote do’ – where the accent of the song was a blend of Himachali and Punjabi folk and ‘Shanno’, which was to be performed by an NRI participant of the show, has a desi flavour with a dash of videshi tadka. All of the efforts of Monty ji, Sundeep-Surya and late Shri Aadesh ji have given Blue Mountains a soul of spirited music, which the film revolves around.
Was it a conscious decision to first send the movie to festivals and then have a theatrical release?
Well, we wanted to see how the audience responded to the film especially the ones that we had made the film about, the youth, and at the first screening where 204 films from across the world were in the running for the Golden Elephant award at the 19th International Children’s Film Festival, 2015, the jury comprised of adolescents of the same age group that our film aimed at inspiring. And although Blue Mountains was in the running too, amongst many other brilliantly made films, it still won the Award for the Best Feature Film in Asia which created much buzz and uplifted our hopes for the film’s success.
We thought that it was a positive sign and we took it to a few more festivals and at each, it won quite a few other national and international awards. So although not consciously, but that first win encouraged us to take it to other places and see how the audiences would respond, which by God’s grace has been good.
Raujesh Jain, Producer
How did your association with Blue Mountains happen, what encouraged you to support this film?
The director of the film discussed the story and it was a highly inspiring and concurrent subject.
What aspects of the film are you involved in? Did you have a creative say as well?
I was involved in every aspect of the production and promotion of the film. No, I did not have any say in the creative part. That was the call of the director.
Though we have seen a few children’s films in recent times, they are still a rarity in our country. As a producer, what do you think is the reason for lesser kids films here?
Because children’s films are commercially not viable. Hence no producer wants to invest money in these films.
Do you think festival recognition gives a boost to the film during its theatrical release?
Yes, the recognition in festivals gives a definite boost and helps in the promotion of the film.
What message would you like to give viewers about this film?
This is a very good movie and I am sure that it will change the perception of parents whose children are not able to achieve their dreams as expected, or hesitate to participate due to fear of failure. Reality shows are quite popular these days and a lot of participants participate in them, but there is only one winner, so what happens to those who do not win? A lot of children even go into depression and try to commit suicide, so with this film we are giving a clear message that participation is more important than winning, and if failure does come in life, it teaches us the taste of success.