Documenting The Clockwork Of A Fan's Mind

Posted on 6 January, 2017 by Team Wishberry

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For The Love Of A Man is a documentary that explores the fandom of superstar Rajinikanth. Directed by Rinku Kalsy and produced by Joyojeet Pal, the documentary was crowdfunded in May, 2015. Now a few months later, they share everything that has happened - right from the crowdfunding experience to what they’re up to now. Check out their pitch video HERE!

 

Give us an update on all that has happened since the crowdfunding success?

Since the Wishberry crowdfunding success, we have already had the film fully edited. The music is being composed right now for some scenes. And we are getting edit consultancy from Iikka Vehkalahti, Commissioning Editor for the Finnish Broadcasting Company, YLE  Documentaries, Finland. And Menno Boerema, who teaches editing at Nederlandse Filmacademie and IDFA summer school among others. "For the love of a man" – is also selected at the Venice International Film Festival, and will get its premiere there. We hope for more European broadcasters to come in once the film is ready! We have also started applying to various film festivals worldwide.  

 

Your last film, Mila’s Journey, pays homage to romance, adventure, spirituality, freedom and female independence. That's quite different from For the Love of a Man. How did you stumble upon the concept of fandoms? What was your inspiration behind something so unique?

The idea came when Joyojeet Pal (Producer of For the Love of a Man) was working with Microsoft Research in Coimbatore district on a project working on children's access to computers, and he found that Rajnikanth's role in Sivaji as a software engineer was a big factor in encouraging children in rural Tamil Nadu to want careers in computer science. This made us think about just how important the influence of Rajnikanth was throughout the state - where anything he did on screen was taken so seriously by people in the state. Joyojeet and I are friends of many years, when we discussed this finding, I as a filmmaker figured that the role film stars have in shaping peoples' opinions on major life choices is huge in parts of Tamil Nadu. This got us thinking about the various ways in which stars like Rajnikanth manage to appeal across age groups. So we started researching, and in 2010, while I was in Amsterdam, I read in a online Indian newspaper that Enthiran was releasing. And I instantly decided, if I must know more about this phenomenon, I must head to Chennai and see for myself what a Rajinikanth first day first show looks like. I booked my ticket on the spot and 2 weeks later I was in Chennai.

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Each of your documentaries cover such varied themes, where do you get the inspiration from?

I am an avid documentary watcher. One of the first unique documentaries I ever saw and was totally immersed in was a documentary from 1929 titled Man with a Movie Camera by Dziga Vertov, and I was mesmerised with the whole non-fiction genre non-narrative form of story-telling. Vertov used varied cinematographic devices to tell his story, although in totality the film was without a plot, but each long shot, or a sequence of edited shots told a story. In similar vein, when I saw the 1982 Godfrey Reggio’s film Koyaanisqatsi, a film on the collision of urban life, technology and the environment. So I guess this was my initial inspiration, that there are stories everywhere.

I do not believe documentaries need to be only an information form. It can and should borrow from other forms of cinema.

Can you elaborate your approach towards making a documentary?

Documentaries I believe are the freest way of cinema. Imagination is limited to experiences of what you see, hear, feel, read, learn, whereas real life is so much more interesting, and infinitely unconventional. There are so many possibilities in how you can approach a story. It is how you and your camera respond to the moment. The approach I constantly try to strive during any kind of documentary I make has been to keep an open mind. People inspire me. But that I believe only comes in when you have spent time with them. You must gain their trust. They are about to reveal themselves and their stories to you, and your camera, it can’t happen without trust. And trust takes time.

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Do you make films keeping film festivals audience in mind? Does it influence the filmmaking process?

When I am in the process of making any documentary I do not keep any audience in mind. I just want to be in the moment during the process. I just hope for these moments to unfold naturally, and not construct anything for an audience. The audience comes in my mind only when I am in the edit phase, when I must subtitle the film, so they understand what is being said with a narrative arc, so they understand a phenomenon that I have filmed or the person I have followed in the film. But during the filming process I never let that come in my way.  

 

What has been the most challenging part of the journey so far?

Since I prefer making personal documentaries, funding is always an issue. A lot of personal funds came from Joyojeet (Producer) and me. As a substantial portion of funding for non-fiction go to timely social issue oriented films with a broader appeal. And then, of course, once the documentary is made, come other challenges like marketing and distribution. But, of course, none of this would’ve been possible without the amazing people who backed us through our Wishberry campaign. That helped us immensely with the editing part.

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Obviously cliched question, but, have you had the chance to meet Rajinikanth yet?

Actually I haven’t met Thalaivar face to face yet. Only in public gatherings with the fans, when I followed them. But he is aware I am making this documentary on his fans.  

 

Any highlight from the shooting days that'll remain with you forever?

I remember on 12th December 2012, when I followed his fans outside his house in Chennai, during his birthday, and Thalaivar came out to wave and greet them, the sheer scale of euphoria that emerged from the crowd of thousands was so mesmerising, it was like a tidal wave of energy that flowed, and I found myself screaming as well. I had to remind myself that I am filming. I had almost forgotten to press the record button!

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What kind of work do you want to keep doing in the future?

Definitely more documentaries! But I will admit I am also playing with the idea of fiction as well.  

 

What's on your plate right now?

Right now I am totally engrossed with the final bits of “For the love of a man”. But in a few months I will be working on a commissioned film tracing 11 world-renowned artists, who will be coming together to work on a few installations in The Netherlands. 

Curious to know how you can raise funds for your next film like how Rinku & Joyojeet did? Just submit your details HERE and we will tell you how you can crowdfund successfully! 

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