Promising times for short film makers: Berlinale-bound Amar Kaushik

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Poster of \"Aaba\"

By Radhika Bhirani

New Delhi–These are promising times for makers of short films in the country, says director Amar Kaushik, whose “Aaba” is the only Indian project in a competition section at this year’s Berlinale. He, however, adds that filmmakers should stop trying too hard to make “festival kind of films”.

“Over the last few years, many Indian films have made their mark at Berlinale, and this is a great sign. However, I really feel that we try very hard to make so called ‘festival films’, but there’s nothing like ‘festival kind of films’ if you ask me,” Kaushik told IANS in an email interview ahead of his trip to Berlin for the February 9-19 fest.

“A film made with honesty and heart finds its audience, and awards and accolades follow,” he said, agreeing that it was singificant that of all the films made in the country, it was a short that made it to Berlin.

“Aaba” is the story of an orphan girl who is told that her grandfather is battling the terminal stages of lung cancer. Shot in the picturesque environs of Arunachal Pradesh, it will compete in the Berlin International Film Festival’s Generation Kplus segment, which is about movies for children and young people.

Poster of \”Aaba\”

Asked why, even with a heart-warming tale in hand, he decided to make it as a short film and not as a feature, Kaushik said: “I think that would have been a mistake. My story was short and needed to be told in a crisp and impactful way. At one point, I was tempted to convert it into a feature, but thank God I didn’t, else the film would have lost its feel.”

Also, he feels feature films come with “baggage”.

“Features come with a baggage of budgets, but for shorts you just need help from your friends, your colleagues, your seniors, your family and last but not the least your mentors,” said Kaushik, who has also written the short film produced by Raj Kumar Gupta and Mitul Dikshit, and co-produced by Onir and Alison Welly.

Kaushik, who is also working as chief assistant director on acclaimed Iranian filmmaker Majid Majidi’s project being shot in Mumbai, graduated in science with the aim of joining the Indian Air Force.

But eventually his fondness for travel made him take up a job in marketing in a firm that sold holidays and tours. The job involved telling stories — and this led him to Mumbai.

When and how was “Aaba” concieved?

“I spent my childhood in Arunachal Pradesh, the state that is known for its pristine beauty and is home to some of the most ancient customs and traditions. The purity and serenity of the place are just enchanting. Even after we moved out of the state, my mother kept telling us interesting stories from Arunachal just to keep reminding us of our beautiful childhood.

“I am a very good listener and the stories my mother told were always in my heart. ‘Aaba’ is one such interesting story my mother had narrated, that remained with me for the longest time. Interestingly, when I narrated this story to my friends, they were moved too and that’s when I had decided that this needs to be told to the world. And that’s how ‘Aaba’ the film came into being,” he said.

Now, it’s “like a dream” taking his first film as director to the famed movie gala Berlinale, where “Aaba” will be screened on February 11.

“It’s an out-of-the-world feeling. We are hoping to watch amazing films, meet some of the greatest talents in world cinema and show our work to audiences from across the globe. I hope to use this opportunity to learn new things about the craft of filmmaking through my interactions with the film geniuses present at the event,” Kaushik added.

He also hopes to work on a feature film in the thriller genre.

Without getting into more details, he said: “It might go on floor this year, if everything goes well.” (IANS)

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