No boundaries attached – Prakata Het Yad
[dropcap]D[/dropcap]irector Milind Dhaimade has to his credit an impressive advertising career where he has spearheaded several iconic ad films. So when the ad filmmaker decided to make his first short film, he wanted it to be different from regular jargon, free of all boundaries and limitations.
That is how Prakata Het Yad came into being. ‘Prakata Het Yad’ initially titled ‘a day in the park’ is a satirical look at today’s urban India through a ‘vagabond family’. The film portrays how this seemingly unconventional family appears to be devoid of social boundaries and materialism but is actually as bound by modernism, conventionalism and desires as anyone else.
This 20 minute unique short film in ‘gibberish’ (yes, it has no dialogs) has been applauded across the International film festival circuit and also won the Audience Choice award in the Short Films category at ‘River to River Indian Film Festival’ in Florence in December 2011.
The film features Sheebha Chadda and Rituraj Singh, both known faces, in the lead alongwith child actors Paresh Mohiniani and Anisha Vora.
Director and writer, Milind Dhaimade talks to Pandolin about his unusual concept clubbed with an atypical title.
Tell us about the concept of ‘Prakata Het Yad’. What prompted you to choose such a unique idea?
My close friend and DOP Kartik Vijay was entrusted with the task of making a demo film for a new film stock from Fuji. One day we were discussing what he could shoot; basically he had certain parameters like it had to be daylight, outdoor, bright colours etc.
So I came up with the idea of a ‘vagabond family’ that pretty much sets up home wherever it goes, in this case in a public park. What is strange though is that while they seem to have abandoned all social boundaries and pretty much live on their own terms, each member displays strange social needs most ordinary families would have.
I find a strange kind of psychosis in the Indian middle class. It keeps changing or evolving when it is ever so convenient and yet, there exists a strong borderline-hypocritical rigidity when it’s not convenient. The idea was to bring alive this psychosis.
The film adopts a very unconventional means of communication. What prompted you to choose this? Was it easy to convince the actors to emote without actual dialogs?
Yes. When I wrote the screenplay, there were no dialogues. Since I wanted to keep the family ‘universal’ in its nature, I did not want any specific regionality attached to the characters. Also I wanted to be as free as I could with the narration of the film. The only problem is, we needed to give the actors something to say. So in the rehearsals I encouraged them to speak in gibberish-something we used to do in theatre ages ago. Everybody seemed to love the gibberish idea and it stuck.
The title is unusual – an anagram. Was it a conscious decision?
Yes. Initially the title of the film was “A day at the park” but while working on the film I thought the title wasn’t totally appropriate for the film. So in keeping with the gibberish dialogues I just jumbled up “A Day At The Park” to get “Prakata Het Yaad”.
[pullquote_left]I find a strange kind of psychosis in the Indian middle class. It keeps changing or evolving when it is ever so convenient and yet, there exists a strong borderline-hypocritical rigidity when it’s not convenient. The idea was to bring alive this psychosis.[/pullquote_left]
What was the most challenging part of the film?
Coming from an ad film background, where we only make films for 30 or 60 seconds this was my first “long format” film project. For me that was the most challenging and the most redeeming part too. Besides this, when we make ad films we do rely on a lot of post-production support to correct certain things or for any kind of special effects.
Since this was an end-to-end film project we knew we could not rely on online support for anything and had to be true to what we shot. That was quiet challenging; if anyone is from ad film making background they’ll know what I mean.
Where was the film essentially shot? What camera have you used to shoot?
The film was shot at the Bharat Petroleum Gardens in Chembur for 5 days. Again we were very lucky as the gardens there were part of some kind of gardening contest and hence were in prime, beautiful condition.
Obviously we shot on Arri 435 as we were shooting on 35mm film (Fuji 250 D)
The film is produced under your own banner. What kind of budgets were involved?
Besides film stock, Fuji also gave us some funds. But we funded almost 90% of the film. I would not like to talk about the budget for this film because on hindsight it was just too humongous for a project of this nature. Not because of anything else but sheer over-enthusiasm on my part.
You and cinematographer Kartik Vijay have had a long working relationship. How was it working with him on your first short film?
Kartik and I share a very open and honest relationship and that what makes shooting together fun. Of course, for a casual observer it might look more like a couple arguing!!! But seriously we had a great time making this film. At certain times the demarcation between the DOP and director gets fuzzy and I like that.
Can you tell us about the post-production set up used.
[pullquote_left]Since I wanted to keep the family ‘universal’ in its nature, I did not want any specific regionality attached to the characters. Also I wanted to be as free as I could with the narration of the film. So in the rehearsals I encouraged them to speak in gibberish – something we used to do in theatre ages ago.[/pullquote_left]
What I enjoyed about the project is that since we had to make a demo for a film stock we had to use the organic process of making the film as far as possible. So while we did edit on FCP( I wish we could have edited on the Steenbeck), the processing etc was done the good old- fashioned way.
Because of this we did not rely on any of the online grading and correction methods commonly used today. There was a lot of manual trial and error in putting the final master together. Considering the fact that the film medium is slowly fading out, I’ll always cherish this experience.
Having said that we also did go through a DI process later, only to compare the prints, for which we are thankful to Reliance Media for their support.
The film has been well received across international film festivals. How has the response been in India? What next is in store for Prakata Het Yad?
Mostly the people in India who have seen it, are just family and friends. I guess eventually I’d like to make this film more accessible to people so maybe we’ll just premiere it on the web or something.
Can you tell us a little about your upcoming projects
Besides ad films, I’m currently trying to find producers for my feature film scripts. Several people have shown interest. So we have our fingers crossed.