Jaideep Varma, well known for his documentary on Indian Ocean, takes on a relatively unknown Mumbai-based rock collective for his latest film project
A still from the 89-minute film, Par Ek Din
In the rain, a lot of things begin to look beautiful. One can only imagine then, how good music could make you feel during this season. As we watch filmmaker Jaideep Varma's latest documentary, Par Ek Din, the sounds we hear streaming from it are soul stirring. We think we are experiencing the rain indoors. And, when vocalist Samyak Singh sings the line 'hum baadal khojhte chale', we know we aren't imagining anything out of the ordinary.
Varma's 89-minute film, which tells the story of a lesser-known Mumbai band, City Haze, deserves to be heard for everything, especially its music. It's the same reason that Varma, who won the National Award in 2011 for his documentary, Leaving Home – the Life & Music of Indian Ocean, decided to script their story.
"I really liked the band's demos," he recalls of the time he first heard their music last June. "I spontaneously offered to make a short film for them for that reason alone - to share their music."
Incidentally, when Varma expressed his interest to editor and colleague Harshad Nalawade, who knew the band members, the latter couldn't hide his surprise. "I first thought he was joking… I never imagined my silly friends would be taken seriously by a National Award-winning filmmaker," he says.
But, Varma, has a rather, good opinion. "I think it [their music] is remarkably fresh as the result of the amalgam of Samyak's [Singh] musical roots and an international rock sensibility that Mallar Sen brings. They are not self-conscious at all, which results in soulful music that's not sentimental."
The intent, however, was not just to showcase their quality music, but also explore their insecurities. "That was the larger picture – capturing that fragile, even scary, insecurity that artistes feel when they do something new and untested," Varma says.
City Haze, which describes itself as a "Hindi alternative, progressive, post rock collective", released their first EP in July last year. It isn't hard to tell that the songs - Chhote Sheher, Imaan and the instrumental City Haze in particular - are inspired by Mumbai. The songs accompany the narrative, without distracting us from Varma's storytelling. And, then, there is the voice-over by Varma and cinematographer Nalawade, who discuss the band, their choice of music, while ruing about the future of Indian rock music. "In this film, we used this unique commentary style of two people talking over the film. The method excited me a lot," Nalawade says.
The movie, which was funded by Humaramovie.com, was shot over two days in November last year. "My first edit was 59 minutes long, more than twice as long as it should have been. Then, later, it went on to become a full-length film because I couldn't get myself to cut the studio songs, which were even better."
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