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Filmmaker Akshay Indikar chats films, life and storytelling!

Updated: Mar 8




Image Source: Team Trijya

Akshay Indikar , a Pune-based filmmaker, is travelling across the world, taking his debut Marathi language feature film


T r i j y a R a d i u s


to various film Festivals, where the film is being loved and appreciated equally by the audience and the critics. Born and brought up in Solapur, Indikar studied at the Film and Television Institute, Pune for three years before he decided to make his first docu-fiction


U d a h a r n a r t h N e m a d e,


a documentary on the noted Marathi writer B h a l c h a n d r a N e m a d .

He began His film making journey

with Doh, a short film which was selected in the competition section at the 2014 International Documentary and Short Film Festival of KeralA.

RASA AUR DRAMA TIMES speaks with Akshay Indikar

about his films, thoughts on cinema, influences and future projects.including episodes from Nemade’s writings.

RAD TIMES: Hello Akshay, a big congratulations on your film Trijya’s selection at a film festival in Switzerland and Bangladesh. How are you feeling? What would you like to say?

Akshay Indikar (AI): I wanted my films, I mean…when I started making films, I had decided that I don’t want my films to be limited to one language, one region, that my film should reach a larger audience, beyond geographical and linguistic boundaries. We tried doing the same when we made Udaharnarth Nemade. But Udaharnarth Nemade was in a way a culture and language specific film. It remained limited to a circle who knew (Bhalchandra) Nemade. But then while doing Trijya, I felt I should tell a story which would be relatable to people of any language, anyone from any country would relate and see himself in it. They’ll feel like watching it, connect their experience with the film and through this, we were trying to find out a way to reach out to people. And the process of making Trijya – see…the process never changes.

We were just conscious of how carefully and powerfully we can use the language of cinema to convey what we want to say.

And once you grasp the language of cinema, you can reach out to anyone in the world. The language and the region don’t matter if the cinematic language is effectively used. Therefore, now when the film is travelling to Tallinn, before that it went to Shanghai, now Switzerland and other countries after that, I feel happy that somewhere we have succeeded what we were trying to do,

that Trijya has not remained only a ‘Marathi’ film and is being watched by people belonging to different cultures, speaking different languages all over the world.

Q2): Before Shanghai, you went to the Busan Film Festival, right?

AI: At Busan, I participated in a section called Platform Busan, where three directors from India are invited to talk about their work, why they make films, what are their thoughts behind making films. Also, what are your inspirations, difficulties while making films, how you overcome them.

Q3) : Okay. I read somewhere that you left your house and came to Pune at the age of 16 and tried to explore different art forms. I mean, how and why did you come to Pune, that too at an age when most people don’t know what they want to do. Was it films that brought you Pune?

AI: Middle-class families have a very limited idea about films. My family was no different. There was only one way how we looked at films. And my childhood was spent in Solapur (Maharashtra, India). Solapur is a city full of Cinema. I would say it is the most vibrant city in Maharashtra when it comes to cinema. Multiplex is a very recent phenomenon but even before this multiplex culture, we had 6-7 theatres in one premises. There’s only one gate to our Bhagwat theatre and inside we have around 6-7 theatres. We used to go there a lot and watch films in 5 rupees, 7 rupees, 10 rupees…Jackie Chan’s films…all kinds of films…Tamil, Telugu…Solapur is a multilingual city. Kannada films are also shown, Malayali, Marathi, Hindi, English…also, Bhojpuri and Hindi-dubbed films from Hyderabad…all kinds of films are released. And there were also some Film Clubs in the city. So, some films of that kind too. Naturally, I liked watching films. I enjoyed films a lot. But I didn’t know the way to get into films. I mean…how can a boy from Akluj enter films?

Q4): Can I say that you knew you wanted to be in films right from your childhood?

AI: No…not really. I didn’t know but I was not much interested in education. And since I didn’t like education, I was trying to explore other areas. But somewhere I knew nothing’s going to happen if I remain here. Solapur or Akluj…Solapur is a city where I used to spend my vacations…but Akluj…Akluj is a very small town. Somehow, I realize - I don’t know how, but I did - that if I continue to be in Akluj, I’ll be limited to a certain boundary. Nothing more would happen beyond that. As to why this happened, I can see a few reason when I now look back. Like, in our town, theatre competitions used to be regularly held and various groups from Pune participated in these competitions. And looking at them I got attracted towards drama and theatre and so I came to a college in Pune for 11th (Science) and joined a theatre group there. But after being there for a while, I realised the theatre scene there was a very narrow affair, open to people only from a specific cultural background. I was outcast because of my language. But I purposefully kept speaking the way I speak. I kept talking the way I talk. I believe there’s nothing like pure and impure language. It’s a language. It is made by man for conversation, for communication. One cannot decide which is a purer language and which one is not on the basis of cultural hegemony. Several types of dialects and languages exist in India itself. So, after this happened, I felt drama and theatre is not for me. And because of this, cinema seemed closer. Being in Pune, a big city, everything seemed different, new…nothing like Akluj, Solapur. In all this, Cinema became something that gave me comfort, something that was very close to me. I found solace in cinema. Cinema, I think, is the most secular thing. In the darkness of a movie theatre, everyone is equal. You buy a ticket and buy a seat for you and that’s it. Nothing more than that is in your hands. You cannot decide who buys a ticket and sits next to you. Anyone from anywhere in the country, of any caste and religion can come and sit next to you. All these things, which are barriers otherwise, do not exist in a movie theatre. I started spending my days at local theatres like Mangala in Pune. Later, I discovered Film Archives (National Film Archives of India, Pune). Film Archives, I feel, is an amazing place. You can sit there, read books just at 10 rupees for the entire day. In the basement, there are films kept. I used to feel nice just by looking at them. Cinema, for me, began as a way of escapism. I was trying to escape from the newly changed reality that surrounded me. I didn’t like academics, science seemed too boring. To be frank, I was not at all interested in science. I never, never liked it. During school days, it was easier to score marks and pass the examination. Study a little and you could pass school examinations. I could push myself. But not in college. And hence, cinema became a comfort zone. Later, I found a group called Spandan. It works on cinema. Students come together and make short films, try to experiment, try new things. There, one of the group members suggested me to try directing a film and I thought, Yes…let’s try…what’s the harm in trying? Earlier, to be in films meant to be an actor. Everyone used to think - what else one does in films? Is there anything else to do? This is how it was. I knew nothing about cinema. Nothing at all. But I decided, let’s try. So, then I wrote a short story, something for a 3 min film. What to write? How to write? How much to write? The process began - finding locations, finding actors, renting a camera, booking dates, getting permission from the police, manage time for the shoot etc etc. The process seemed so interesting and so engaging that I was pleased. I felt happy. The process involved decision making. I felt great. And by a matter of chance, the short film also won a prize. It was a very bad film. Done just for fun, at whatever level possible for 11th standard students…How great would the film be? It was a very ordinary film, shot just because we got the camera you can say. I knew nothing about films. I had no knowledge of the film language, didn’t know how to take shots, had no idea about the grammar of film, nothing but somewhere there was a feeling that I should convey the story I want to tell. The basic desire of communication, storytelling man has, that became a source of inspiration and from there, I started telling stories. Soon, I realised that if I seriously want to do this, then I should take proper education and learn the craft. So, I decided to join the Film and Television Institute but one needs to be a graduate to join the institute. Therefore, I started my graduation and also started studying for the FTII entrance. I studied for FTII entrance for 4-5 years and…

Q5): So, joining FTII was decided while you were still in 12th?

AI: Yes…It was decided and I studied for it for 5 years. No one studies this much and there is no need actually, but I did. In that process, I watched films from all over the world, read important biographies… (RAD Times: before joining the institute) yes…before joining. And as a result, I had already watched films by Kieslowski. I was familiarized with all the important films that have been made. I keep watching them again and again today. Through this, I got to know different streams of films. Then, I also came across a book called Cinemachi Goshta…it tells about all important film movements…like German Impressionism, Italian Neorealism, French New Wave. I got to know the names of the important filmmakers…Eric Rohmer, Truffaut, Godard. It was a completely new world. There was Murnau to watch, there was Bergman. It was as if something huge, gigantic stood before me. I realised this would never end. This is unending and decided to jump into it. I started devouring films and then later, appeared for the film institute entrance test and got selected as a top-ranking student with a one-year student scholarship. I completed my first year there. All was going well; but after three years I decided to leave the institute because it was taking too long for the courses to finish. I thought if I am to learn something, let’s learn by doing it and decided to make a film. So, I left the institute and made a short film called Doh which was selected in the International Competition at the Kerala International Short Film Festival. It was the first Marathi to get selected there. This gave me the confidence to make films. Then I started working on Trijya. I wrote the film but somehow the film was not getting made. It kept on getting delayed. I wanted to include Nemade’s poems in Trijya and I met Nemade to take his permission. When I met him, I found him so interesting that I thought a film can be made on him. That’s how Udaharnarth Nemade came into being. We made the film on our own by taking loans from some people. Later, Chitrakathi joined us and Udaharnarth Nemade, thus, became the first Marathi docu-fiction film. While making Udaharnarth Nemade, we realised that there is an audience for such films but it is scattered. We need to bring them together. How do we do it? By using social media, Firta Cinema. By going to villages and screen films.

Q6.) Since you mentioned audience, do you think there’s a need of change in how people perceive films. I mean, are we not stuck at one place? We know only one kind of films. We don’t know there is more to films than this. Cinema is much more than what we have been watching over the years. What do you think?

AI: I think we are afraid. We are used to watching only certain kind of films and our views have become so rigid, we are so conditioned that we don’t think there could be films different from what we watch. It has been impressed on our minds that only ‘this’ is cinema. We don’t want to watch something different, something new. Whenever we watch something different, we feel uncomfortable. We have lost the confidence that we can understand these films too. For example, our new film Sthalapuran. In it, we have not explained things overtly. You watch it, experience it and understand it. But when I show it to people, I know they have understood everything, they have felt everything but they are never sure that they have understood it. And this is because we are so used to spoon-feeding that there’s no confidence left regarding our understanding. This is also a problem of the times we live in. We want everything to be easy, instant, quick. Whenever we are forced to use our brains, our imagination; we feel scared, we feel uncomfortable; and cinema, in my opinion, is that. I feel cinema is an effort that creates questions. Cinema is not a medium that gives answers. Cinema is something that always creates questions. It cannot give answers, it can only create questions. Cinema can only create questions. It creates questions and then we have to search for the answers all our lives. We may never find them. Cinema is also not a medium to give a message, to teach either. It is not its function. We should not bring cinema to such a lowly position. Cinema is not an advertisement. It is not a poster. ‘Don’t Spit. Don’t do this. Don’t do that.’ In my opinion, even storytelling is not something that a film must seek to do. Film is not the story. I believe, Film, Cinema is a medium of giving the audience an experience. Sharing your experience is the task a filmmaker tries to perform through his films. Sharing your experience audio-visually. Using the film language, time, space, audio, and visual, you present your experience to the audience. The test is how uniquely and how distinctly you share the experience.”

About the Writer!

ANAND B

I love to read, write, watch and study films.

#AKSHAYINDIKAR

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