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This film maker makes movies raising funds from public

Drimi Chaudhuri , Oct 27, 2013 : 22:05 IST
Anamitra Roy (at the right in striped shirt) and his partner Sriparna Dey shooting on location at Goa.

If film makers are dream merchants, Anamitra Roy is no different. But his dream transcends the limits of the silver screen and touches the lives of whoever he comes across. Unlike the Hindi film industry’s “hundred-crore” club, Roy’s dream, however, costs not more than a rupee.

The young Kolkata-based film maker, who is struggling to make his first feature film, has given birth to the “One Rupee Film Project”, a unique concept which endeavours to collect Re 1 from everyone willing to pay. This collective will not only be the producer for his film but also willing audience to his brand of cinema.

Roy and his partner in reel and real life, Sriparna Dey, have touched a chord within the otherwise unknown Indian “indie film” circuit. The project went viral as it could within the community and reaped dividends for the young film makers.

On February 25, last year, the corpus started with Rs 100 from S N Nanda, a film enthusiast. Since then they have collected Rs 3 lakh in two phases. Till June this year, they raised the princely sum and managed to make a full-length feature film.

What seems like a paltry sum — in a world where billions are spent on cinema, the amount is not even a drop in the proverbial ocean — took Roy and Dey more than a year to collect. “Our motto is to make films at dirt cheap cost. If a lot of people come together, the amount will go up, hence we went for the concept,” Roy said.

Otherwise called “crowd funding”, it all started at the Bring Your Own Films
Festival (BYOF), the Mecca of independent and low-budget film makers in India. On the last day of the five-day annual BYOF, an official announcement was made for the “One Rupee Film project”.

“We would make five short films for Rs 15,000 and sell DVDs among friends and fellow cine artistes, recovering the cost of the film and expenses needed for BYOF. We used to raise some money from DVD sales at the festival. Crowd funding was the only way for us,” Roy said with a chuckle at the seemingly impossible being turned into reality.

The announcement at BYOF, however, did not mean floodgates had opened
because everyone there is struggling. The money trickled in and currently Roy and Dey have around 250 people on their list, who have put up the total amount, including around Rs 55,000 from online collection through an agency that works for this purpose, charging a commission. But the saga does not end here.

“The film is now complete. We need to spend some money on post-production, particularly to get the audio right. We can release the film in DCP (digital cinema package) format, which is usually used to release digital films; this can be done even from home on a PC,” Roy said talking about the 132-minute film, Aashmani Jawaharat (Diamonds in the Sky).

Shot at locations in Kolkata, Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Goa, the film is multi-lingual, with dialogues in Bengali, Hindi, English and even a bit of Kannada.

“Our total cast and crew included 36 people, who shot for the film across these places since September 2012.

Industry insiders are amazed at how we managed within the amount. We had started with around Rs 1.7 lakh but funds dried up after shooting at Mumbai and Goa. We managed to raise another lakh between May and June this year,” Roy
explained.

The film, juxtaposing documentary and fiction, tells the story of a young film maker’s struggle to make his first feature film, the trials and tribulations he faces and how he tries to overcome these.

If Roy was reluctant to accept it is his story, Sriparna pointed out that the film is based on situations and people he met while looking for a producer. “These people will know it’s about them when they watch the film,” she said with a grin.

Translating their dream on celluloid, however, was just the first hurdle for the young film maker duo; the struggle just seems to have begun. “We want theatre release for the film, not just DVD sales like our earlier short films. This would mean promotional activities and multiplex release, which would cost much more than our total budget,” he pointed out.

Roy and Dey, who call themselves“dependent” instead of independent film makers, due to their financial dependence on so many people, pointed out that the traditional methods of production and distribution are embedded strongly in the system.

“Our fight started with the belief we’ll not be tied to any traditional producer or distributor but it’s hard to bypass the system,” he admitted.

They have already taken rushes from the film to the Film Mart at the recently-concluded Mumbai International Film Festival to understand the market and also try to get co-producers, who would help support the film through what comes next. The amount to have their film released in theatres is so high that they might have to go for crowd funding again.

Roy borrowed a page from an Israeli film maker Dan Wolman, who wrote an open letter to Indian indie film makers in August, suggesting they come together to revolutionise the traditional distribution network.

“Among other ways, he suggests film makers like us get together and buy
single-screen theatres that have closed down. The idea is good but for now it does not seem achievable. Let’s see what happens,” Roy signed off on an optimistic note.

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