When Hari Got Married – Documentary Making

On 10th December 2010, Hari got married to Suman. On 3rd November 2012 at DIFF’12, Hari and Suman with their little one relived the memory of their wedding in the hall of TIPA (Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts), full of applauding audiences. All kudos to renowned documentary filmmaker’s duo Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam! The film called ‘When Hari Got Married’ has been screened at the first ever Dharamshala International Film festival 2012 and is all set to be showcased at many other International film festivals such as DOK Leipzig and IDFA Amsterdam.

In the documentary film ‘When Hari Got Married’, Hari is a taxi driver in the Indian Himalaya, is getting married to a girl he has never met but with whom he has nevertheless fallen in love on the mobile phone. The film captures the fun, emotions, age-old traditions of wedding in Himachal with a take on modernity through Hari’s outspoken nature and tongue-in-cheek humour.

Pandolin talks to Hari (the real protagonist) and Ritu Sarin, the filmmaker to learn the making of ‘When Hari Got Married’.

Hari Got Married

Protagonist Hari with wife at the screening

Hari, Khaniara Village, Himachal Pradesh:

Pandolin: When Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam proposed to film your wedding, what was your instant reaction to them?

Hari: When they asked me that they wanted to make a film on my wedding, I said yes, ‘do it’. I was ready to let them do.

Pandolin: How are you feeling now after watching yourself on the big screen?

Hari: I am surprised to know that when did I talk so much! I din’t know that what I said then, would sound like this strange to me now! While they were filming, I used to have fun. Just for fun, I used to say ‘I Love You’ to Suman (his wife) but then I din’t realise that it would sound this way in the film. While watching the film, I was laughing on my own antics as well as felt emotional to see my home’s condition then, the way we used to do prayers and make food.

Hari Got Married

Ritu Sarin

Ritu Sarin, the Filmmaker:  

Pandolin: How did the idea of doing a documentary on Hari’s wedding come to you?

RS: As I mentioned, we have known Hari for about 16 years. We live close to his house.  He is a taxi driver. I know his family. I knew that he was getting married. His date of marriage was fixed two years earlier. He insisted me, “You must be here for my wedding” because I do travel a lot. I know he is a great character. I think as a filmmaker, you have to trust your instincts and I just did that. I wasn’t sure, how he would be in the film. I kept telling Tenzing that we should shoot his wedding. Then few weeks before the wedding, as we hadn’t approached for the funds. We had a camera; we shot the film ourselves. We shot the wedding for 15 days.

Pandolin: How long did it take you to finish this documentary film?

RS: It took us a year after that. So, once we actually finished the shooting, we also did shoot couple of times afterwards. We tried to temperate some funding for post production and all of the work that was involved.

Pandolin: Are you planning to release the DVDs of the documentary?

RS: Currently, we are having the Indian premieres and world premieres of the documentary. We are going to IDFA Amsterdam in a week. I don’t know how we are going to show it in India. I think, it would be great to have a theatrical release in India, if possible. If we look at today’s reactions of the audience, then I think it is possible. I am an explorer and would like to explore the possibility of a theatrical release, if not then I will talk to DVD distributors.

Pandolin: On which camera did you shoot the film? Did you use multiple cameras since we saw multiple shots taken for a single scene in the film?  

RS:  We used a Sony EX1 to shoot this film. It’s a small camera. Tenzing and I did the entire shooting. We used only one camera since we decided to keep it intimate. For sound, we used a good camera mike. We kept the whole process very simple.

Pandolin: How was your own journey making this film?

RS: The thing about filmmaking and making a documentary is that you really have to be there in the moment. You have to know when the moment is good, the character is good and when there are chances for camera work to excel at some shot. The journey was exciting.

The editing of the film was really interesting. Tenzing edited the film. We have worked with many editors in the past. But this time, Tenzing did it and the whole process was very calm. We got enough time with no stress. It was very gentle edit and we enjoyed it very much.

Hari Got Married

Organizers Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam

When Hari Got Married – Documentary Making

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