Lack of language leverage puts extra onus on N-E directors

Lack of language leverage puts  extra onus on N-E directors

Making it as an independent filmmaker is tough, but the challenge is magnified if you are one from the Northeast.

“Making a film is easy, but getting it released is extremely difficult,” said Pradip Kurbah, director of national award winner ‘Onataah: Daughter of the Earth,’ a Khasi language movie. Kurbah, who is from Shillong, shot the movie in 18 days on a budget of Rs 27 lakh.

“Before I could think of releasing my movie, I had to check the calendar for Bollywood releases to make sure that it did not clash with movies featuring big stars,” he said.

Language was a barrier when it came to recovering his investment through theatre releases. “I could not release it even in Guwahati because there people do not understand Khasi and I did not want to dub because the essence would be lost.” With Meghalaya having only three theatres, Kurbah went from village to village, armed with projectors, to screen his movie for a charge. His movie about the life of a rape victim was well received by the public and at festivals.

Bobby Sarma Baruah from Assam made ‘Sonar Baran Pakhi’ in Rajbanshi, a rare language spoken in parts of Assam, West Bengal and Nepal.

“People from the rest of India do not know anything about the culture of the Northeast and this makes me feel bad. We have so many topics for filmmaking,” she said. Knowing that a few people would come for her movie on folk artist Pratima Pande if released in theatres, Baruah decided to get visibility through film festivals.

“I found it very difficult to market my film in the rest of India, more so as a woman filmmaker. I did not know whom to approach for distribution,” she said.

While language had been a barrier for Kurbah, Prashant Rosaily’s advantage was precisely that. “My movie ‘Katha’ is in Nepali. So, even though people in my state Sikkim are not into movies and we have only three theatres, I found an audience in Nepal,” he said.

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