Ralang Road does not harp on the touristy aspect of Sikkim: Karma
Coming from a small village in Sikkim writer-director Karma Takapa created quite an impact with his film Mor Mann Ke Bharam (An illusion of my mind). His second feature film, Ralang Road, which was at the NFDC Film Bazaar 2016, explores humor that can be found in the most unexpected ways in everyday life. While his first film was in Chhattisgarhi, this movie is in Nepali and is in fact set in a small village in south Sikkim from where Takapa hails.
To know more about the film, Pandolin caught up with Takapa who talks about his journey as a filmmaker, the conceptualization of Ralang Road, his expectations from Film Bazaar and more.
How did your journey as a filmmaker begin and what is it about this medium of expression that fascinates you?
For me it all started with film institute, which is where I got clarity about what to do and how to make a film. I come from a place which is slightly offbeat, so I haven’t been exposed to world cinema much. So the film institute opened me up in that sense. It was the people and environment that put things in perspective for me.
Coming to films as a medium of storytelling, I think for me it is not only limited to trying to tell a story, even though it is the foundation of a film. It is also about getting to a level of evocation that is probably a more interesting aspect to look at.
The movie is set in your home town Sikkim, is that where the inspiration for the film came? How did the idea of Ralang Road germinate?
I wanted to shoot something in my village and show something that wouldn’t project Sikkim like a tourist destination. Sikkim has an image of being a hill station and there is a certain perception that has been created towards the place, which I wanted to break. I wanted to make a film which would not harp on the whole ‘touristy’ aspect of Sikkim. Ralang Road concentrates on the narrative and not the beauty of Sikkim.
What is the central theme of the film and how do you see the audience connecting to it?
The film is based in a very small and obscure part of the town. The story is an exploration that takes place within a day in that small town. We have three narratives which feel like they are coming together, but they don’t, and that becomes a confusion of circumstances. So the major theme of the film is a confusion of circumstances taking place within a day.
Coming to the audience, I don’t think we start making a film thinking about whether the audience will relate to it or not. This is especially true for independent filmmakers because most of the time the audience aren’t going to relate to our films (laugh). We are independent filmmakers so if we start bothering ourselves with ideas like whether the audience will relate to the film, then I guess we already reduce the minimum chance that we have of making films.
Of course, the question whether people will like the film or not is always present, but that is something no one has control over. You do what you have to do. Therefore, for me to try and explore my own understanding, the form and aesthetics of filmmaking and trying to be as true to the idea as possible are some of the factors that I keep in mind while making a film.
Visually the place is stunning, how have you integrated that beauty locations into the narrative?
The locations are majorly within my village and that place, for the major part of the year, is covered in fog. Therefore, the place has got a sense of heaviness and because it is always fogged up a lot of people say that it is a very depressing climate. But that’s how I like the place, so it was exploring that aspect of the town. We wanted to explore places which wouldn’t necessarily come across as beautiful but would be evocative.
What are you looking forward to at Film Bazaar this year and what are expectations for the film?
Firstly, I am looking forward to the experience of being at Film Bazaar. I am also looking forward to seeing a lot of independent filmmakers go through the grind of trying to get their film out there. It is good to be in similar company.
As for my expectations for the movie, we’ll see how it goes. We have meetings lined up with people who might be interested, so we’ll take it from there. I don’t think we are in a position to have any kind of high expectations, but it is an opportunity for us to put our film out there for people to see it.