An indie screen saviour
A new initiative in Versova is hoping to engage a community around indie film-making that goes beyond screenings
"Everyone is fighting their own battle." A 22-year-old Shreyas Chowgule arrived at this conclusion after coming to Mumbai a year ago. After graduating from film school in Pune, for Chowgule, navigating through the city's film industry seemed to be a particularly daunting task in contrast to the community set-up that film schools provide.
In 2016, he made a short film called Vaarasa (The Inheritance) that touches upon the caste system, which made its mark internationally at the Washington DC South Asian Film Festival and the New York Indian Film Festival, among others. But being an independent filmmaker isn't easy; even exposure becomes expensive. "Your film might make it to international film festivals, but your team won't. We do not have the funds to go there, so there isn't scope for any audience interaction," he says.
In the city, the independent filmmaking community, as a whole, is still in its nascent stage notwithstanding the surge in the number of indie films being made. The idea of building an interactive space for anybody associated with independent filmmaking struck a chord with the filmmaker-actor duo, Devashish Makhija, 38, and Vaibhav Raj Gupta, 28. The two spent three months building a concrete plan, for they weren't looking to build just another "platform". And soon, Aabobo was born. Gupta, who was previously engaged in poetry sessions, found a listener who offered a larger space in a studio at Versova. Along with 15 other like-minded individuals, they were able to form a team to kickstart the first chapter at the studio.
Shreyas Choughule, Devashish Makhija and Vaibhav Raj Gupta
"This initiative was born out of no agenda. It is a space where filmmakers, writers, spot boys can come, discuss and share their process. The key idea is conversation, the bonfire has to be lit," Makhija tells us.
The name, Aabobo, was decided upon after exploring the meaning of the term, which is exclamatory in nature, but the use varies across states, languages, and dialects. It represented the energy the group had. "I've been making films independently for a decade now and it can get really back-breaking. I've missed the energy and spirit that comes with being within a community which you tend to have in film school. We're trying to accomplish the same without an institution," he says.
The first event beginning this week will showcase four short films, following a discussion on every one of them, each being represented by around four members of the film crew.
With Chowgule's film on the list, he hopes to finally get a chance to interact with people. "It feels good to share your work. It will really boost my confidence," he says. Both Makhija and Gupta are positive that the idea will expand across the country, but it will always be free. "When money comes along, so do limitations. You have to work according to terms that aren't your own. We don't want to restrict anyone. Today, for many, it is difficult to strike a conversation about cinema. That is a wall we're trying to break," Gupta maintains.
ON August 3, 10 pm to 11.30 pm
AT Studio Veda, 72/1st Floor, Aram Nagar, Versova, Andheri West.
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