As an independent artist, filmmaking is not my base. I started as a poet-writer for Bengali little magazines. By started, I mean, tried to set up an identity in the nearest metropolitan, Kolkata. It was 2005, I remember. I was a simple guy with floating eyes, filled of dreams. I remember our ideas of free-poetry, commune living, et. al. and postering on the walls of Coffee House, or Nandan, or some other art center. Some people used to tear them apart and, yes, that was shocking for the teenager. I had a girlfriend; I mean I still have the same one, Sriparna Dey. She is a painter and made her directorial debut this year. She was always there with me. Be it some convention, magazine or just running away from the cops. And of course Snigdhendu, my journalist friend and co-activist.
Our group was full of radical enthusiasm. We believed in lots of unimaginable childish ideas about the world, art, and the nation. Life was like that until friends started betraying in 2007. In December, 2006, Kolkata Police arrested me (along with a friend) from the Nandan-Campus with some posters apparently potent to spread political violence. This occurrence gained me some media attention. Of course, it was damn irritating. Idiotic journalists without knowing a bit about our works, used to call me and ask about what we are planning next, do we represent the Maoists, and all. I didn’t like that, but that was not the problem. The main thing was my friends disliked this thing more than me. They thought I was enjoying it. Some of them were even jealous with the fact.
So, that was the first blow from the ambiguous world of real things and reasons. Our group broke up. Apparently no one was there to work hand-in-hand. I opted for a self-chosen alienation, got back to my hometown, and locked myself up in the room for 8 months or so. I used to meet only two people in this period. The two mentioned above in the first paragraph. Hell was rising. I was getting more depressed day-by-day. Poetry, there was only poetry. And Marijuana! I remember Damnation, the film by Bela Tarr. I felt like I was condemned to hell. From there, we three started publishing hand-written magazines consisting of collages and cut-ups and some original writings, too. These compilations were Xeroxed and distributed in locality of guys who had read those and had been willing to circulate the same. That’s how I published my first collection of poetry, Shabdoprokriyakoron and set out again for Kolkata. It was Book Fair, 2008. The book received a good response in general. No one had ever seen a collection of poems like that – hand-drawn illustration on every page and one unique original painting in every copy.
People of the new generation were kind of mesmerized.
So, why am I talking literature while I shall be speaking of film? You see friends; this book had a lot of contribution behind me becoming a filmmaker. While I was in alienation I saw lots of films from different countries and my imagination started flying in vain; if only I had a camera. Then one day Sriparna bought a second hand DVcam from someone in 2008 and we, the gang of three, decided to make a film on the works of the maverick anti-establishment author of Bengal Mr. Subimal Misra. The project was shared with many of our folks but it never completed due to several reasons. The first film that completed and we were a part of was “Mrito Kanchaner Lobh-e” a.k.a. In Search of Dead Golds by Arupratan Ghosh in December, 2008. Arupratan is one of the most famous Bengali poets of the ‘Zero Decade.’ He connected me via phone. He was one of the buyers of Shabdoprokriyakoron. The idea seemed amazing to him and made him check out if I’m a real life character or not. He got my number from the book. Then we met at a pub that sells country liquor and had conversation on literature, film, etc. Both of us were impressed with the fact that we share a lot of common likings like New York Underground or French Nouvellevague, etc. We decided to make a film and it was made in a couple of weeks. Sriparna provided her camera voluntarily. We badly acted in the film too, without any preparation. The whole production cost was Rs.600/- just the cost of petrol for the car, lunch, and two pints of rum. Then we started informing our film enthusiast friends from the little magazine world about the way of production. We started calling it the no-budget filmmaking without knowing the fact that it is already a quite popular term all over the world.
Gradually I came to know about the initiatives worldwide during writing my dissertation paper for the department of Film Studies, Jadavpur University. I interviewed Michael W. Dean, Clive Frayne, Ian McCormick, Amir Motlagh and tried to interview Lucas McNelly, too, but he was busy with Up Country at that time and was unable to provide me with it. The Film Studies Dept. was another hell for me but I won’t like to discuss it here.
Man, how can some guys be so audacious to teach someone about ‘How to read a Film’?
If you know it, you got artistic talent and if you do not know, no one can teach you, that’s what I believe. Moreover, it’s not a good process to feed you from basic spatiality in films to Lacan’s psycho-analytic theory via popular Indian cinema and New York Underground in just two years!
We produced two DVDs in the last two years. The first one is called Five No Budget Films (2010) and the second one is called Season Two: No Budget Films. We produced both the DVDs within Rs.15,000 which is somewhat equivalent to $334 USD approximately. The productions are quite popular amongst the intellectuals and we have obtained a negative image at least among them. Our films are photographically incompetent, promising but not up to the mark, so on and so forth, there are guys who criticize us for being too aggressive. It’s like “Man, this is not the 60’s or the 70’s. You can’t prove anything saying those aggressive anti-establishment things!” And when there is an article or a feature story by some media house about us it’s the same people who say “You sound too complacent. So is it the acknowledgement that your anti- establishment statements awaited for so long? What/who do you work for”? There are other problems, too. Some people and even the intelligent Bureau takes us up as Maoist terrorists, where as Maoists don’t support us. I think it’s a problem on their part,
the receivers. They have always dreamt about gaining some mass recognition which they have never been able to. I think it’s a lack of ‘P’, that is to say p*nis. They are jealous every time they come by a person working outside the industry and getting some recognition worldwide.
So, the last word that I’d like to add is f*ck all of them who don’t work and only criticize. It’s only a pattern of antagonism that we makers should not be bothered of. It’s a psychic problem that they all share. It’s important to produce good works bypassing the movie making machine a.k.a. film industry. Although I acknowledge that the industry is big and we all are a part of it — the producers, the directors, the Indies, the anti-industry no- budget filmmakers…all of us… still some of us, I believe, do believe in some different logistics of filmmaking. I like it. For instance, we consciously oppose the language that is used in the popular films from India and we opt for even torrent releases to reach out to a larger audience worldwide. I want to overcome all the limitations and communicate.
Often the urge makes me repeat the protagonist of Motlagh’s ‘Whale’ —
“F*ck Cameron, can you break?”
My respect to all the Indies all over the world.
(The Only No Budget Indies’ Forum in India that is the pioneer and opts for at least one direct to DVD release every year)
Thanks to all and filmcourage.com
Anamitra Roy (Born: Aug. 1988) is one of the most powerful post-hungrealist poets of the new generation Bengali literature. He is often tagged as a Maoist too. Besides writing poetry he is good at writing prose and essays too. He is one of the pioneer no budget filmmakers from India, a founder member of Little Fish Eat Big Fish and the voluntary curator of the forum.
According to him he loves nothing except his girlfriend and the thing he wants to communicate. He has no love for any medium. If he considers animation to be the best one for communication he may become an animator too any other day.
That’s how he is, aggressive and adamant. Intellectuals of Bengal/Kolkata don’t like him at all.