Life in Metaphors is a film for budding filmmakers – OP Srivastava
A former investment banker, OP Srivastava now is a filmmaker who pursed his passion after 30 odd years. With his first film ‘Life in Metaphors’, he not only entered the world of filmmaking but he also received a National Award for the Best Biographical Film. The film traces the work and life of Girish Kasaravalli, a Kannada filmmaker who inspired Srivastava.
This film endeavors to understand the various aspects of cinema. It tries to explore the art, craft, language and grammar of cinema through the perspective of Girish Kasaravalli.
Srivastava’s film will be screened at NFDC Film Bazaar 2016 and Pandolin caught up with the first-time director to understand more about ‘Life in Metaphors’. From the conception of the film to interacting with Girish Kasaravalli to being awarded the National Award, Srivastava has much to share.
Can you shed some light on your background and what was the point of conception for ‘Life in Metaphors’?
I have been an investment banker for the last 30 plus years. Filmmaking was something that I wanted to pursue from a very young age, but that time it was not possible. But then I quit my job and started learning filmmaking and I have been in this field for the past three to four years.
It was during a workshop which I attended in FTII where I met Mr. Girish Kasaravalli who is a Kannada filmmaker. We saw his films like Dweepa and others, plus he was there to lecture us on the art of filmmaking. I was extremely impressed by his films and lecture where he was talking about his craft. I was greatly inspired by his technique, his storytelling and cinematic ability. I met him there at the workshop and cultivated a relationship with him. I went to his sets where he was shooting and for a year I followed and learned from him.
Later, I wanted to start and make my first film and after a while I thought I have enough material about Girish Kasaravalli so I asked him if I could make a film on him and he gave me his permission. And that is how the film was born. ‘Life in Metaphors’ is a biographical film on Girish Kasaravalli.
This is your first venture as a filmmaker, how was the experience?
I had to do a lot of preparation and also had to understand his techniques because you are not sure the money you are putting in will come back. I took it as a learning experience and I made this film out of my personal funding. The good part of the film was that Girish Kasaravalli was very co-operative about the whole process. The entire process of filmmaking must have taken around 18 months or so. He has been a guiding force and has been a great help even in terms of reducing my cost.
How was the life and work of Girish Kasaravalli captured in the film?
The film is not a typical biographical film as it is more focused on his craft of filmmaking, the art and science of filmmaking. ‘Life in Metaphors’ is a film for budding filmmakers as they need to understand what is the grammar and idioms of filmmaking. That is why we have called it ‘Life in Metaphors’ because metaphor is a cinematic idiom which is very commonly used in the film of Girish Kasaravalli. When we say ‘she is as beautiful as the moon’, so instead of showing the face you show the moon, so that is a kind of cinematic language which he aptly uses. He uses metaphoric idioms and language in his films, thus the name ‘Life in Metaphors’.
How did Girish Kasaravalli react to the film? You also received a National Award for the Best Biographical Film.
He never asked me what kind of film I was making but when the film was ready and I had the final cut I showed it to him. He only made one comment, he told me to reduce the portion of the film in which he appears. He said, since the film is about him, he shouldn’t be the one talking so much and that I should let others do the talking. That was the only comment he gave. And as for winning the National Award, somehow I was completely surprised when the film won. Getting that award was like cherry on the cake.
As you said earlier, this film is for young filmmakers, so what can they take away or learn from the film?
Young filmmakers will learn a lot from this film. The whole point is to understand what makes a film, a good film. A great amount of money or great technology or shooting on foreign locations or even big stars cannot make a great film. In Girish Kasaravalli films most of the actors are not highly paid, he makes ordinary people give extremely good performances and he uses a very down to earth techniques. He understands the language of the film, what makes a film an effective film, what makes the audience engage with the film and how do you put your ideas across. There is a science of making an impactful film and he is a master of that.
What are you looking forward to in Film Bazaar and how important do you think Film Bazaar is as a platform for filmmakers?
This film has already been in various festivals, so I am here to see if foreign channels or some international distributer might be interested in picking up the film and taking it aboard.
As for the festival, this is the only organised place where the buyers and sellers get a chance to meet. This is a great platform, especially for documentary filmmakers because there is no organised place for marketing documentaries in India. This is a great opportunity for budding filmmakers and here you at least meet genuine people whose credibility is not questionable.