On matters of faith

On matters of faith

daring Debut

On matters of faith

When 2 extremes meet, it is bound to create a strong impression. The film Kaafiron Ki Namaaz, just by its name, has taken the digital world by storm, after its recent release in YouTube. “Kaafiron Ki Namaaz, literally means non-believers’ prayer,” says the director of the film, Ram Ramesh Sharma.

The makers of the film, director Sharma and producer Bhargav Saikia were in their final term of their filmmaking course at Whistling Woods International, when they had to choose between either shooting for their diploma film or the feature film. They chose the latter, and when you look at their fruit of labour, their decision seems justifiable.

A bold move

If deciding to leave their filmmaking course midway seems a tough call, then that was just the beginning for a journey full of obstacles. For first-timers, from making an aesthetic cinematic product on a shoe-string budget to not succumbing to any pressure and speaking their mind freely, through the hard-hitting dialogues, one has to give credit to both the boys for pulling it through amid so many odds.

The film is about 3 men — a former Army officer, a writer and a musician — confessing their most personal secrets to each other on a rainy Christmas Eve somewhere in Srinagar, Kashmir. Their is another character, the camera assistant to the writer, who is the narrator of the film. The narrative of the film moves from mundane discussions to a dramatic climax, in the process it touches upon many pertinent issues. The 3 main actors are FTII passouts, Chandrahas Tiwari, who plays the writer, Alok Chaturvedi, the Army officer, and Megh Pant, the musician. In one of the scenes, the writer and the Army officer discuss death, and the irony is that Chandrahas passed away before the final completion of the film. “It is one of my biggest regrets that we could not show the complete film to him,” says the young filmmaker.

The film has been screened, and has won awards at festivals such as the Jeonju International Film Festival, 2014, South Korea and the Ladakh International Film Festival, 2014, where it was the India winner of Best Feature Film, Best Debut Director, Best Screenplay and Best Actor to name a few. Although the makers wanted a proper commercial release, when the opening kept getting delayed, they decided to make it available for all on YouTube.

What made them take the risk of making a full-length feature film, without completing their filmmaking course? Bhargav says, “It was a tough decision and our professors were upset. We had to shoot all the outdoor portions of Kaafiron Ki Namaaz in February in Kashmir, as we wanted a specific look, and it was clashing with our diploma film shoots. By then, we were obsessed with the film, and we did not think it would be a good idea to wait for a complete year to shoot those portions. I agree that I made many decisions instinctively, but now when I look back, I feel I made the right ones.”

Bhargav is now looking forward to adapt the film’s screenplay into a stage play in the near future. Bhargav later went on to make a horror short film, called Awakenings, which is now doing the rounds of the festival circuit. His heart lies in making full-length feature films, and says that he has just finished scripting a horror story that he will start pitching to production companies soon.

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