In Focus: Bringing Folk Tales from Assam To Life

Posted on 25 June, 2015 by Team Wishberry

kothanodi poster 658 Kothanodi (aka The River of Fables) is a film that brings folk tales from Assam to life. Crowdfunded in November 2014, the film is packed with a script to watch out for and a cast that’s full of promise. So, how does an independent filmmaker on a shoestring budget make sure a story that has to be shared with the world is told with perfection? We speak to Bhaskar Hazarika, director of Kothanodi, about his journey after crossing the first major hurdle in the filmmaking process- the money. Click HERE to view their campaign page.

So, what have you done since the crowdfunding campaign?

Bhaskar: We have finished the shooting of the film, which was the primary impulse behind the crowdfunding campaign. Additionally, we received further investments which helped us complete about 75% of all post production work. Right now, we are in the final leg of the project. We hope to wrap everything up in another month’s time and then apply for censor certification in August.  

How difficult is it for an Indian independent filmmaker to do a film to its full potential, given the many limitations?

Bhaskar: As we are no doubt going to discover first hand, it’s extremely difficult for indie filmmakers to exhibit their films, not so much make them. Like everything else, the exhibition space for cinema in India is today heavily commercialised. A few conglomerates control a vast majority of screens, and if your film does not have ‘bankable’ stars or content, good luck finding a screen to show your labour of love.  

How did you get people on-board for the project?

Bhaskar: For the crowdfunding campaign, I reached out to almost every single person I have known in my life. Very early on in the campaign I realised that it is futile depending entirely on strangers for funds. Crowdfunding is a pretty new concept and people are sceptical about new ideas (especially ones that ask them for their money!). So I wrote a lot of emails, called people, formed WhatsApp groups of school and college friends etc. As for getting the cast and crew on board for the project, I think the script in itself convinced everyone.
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What was the most challenging part during the making of this film?

Bhaskar: The biggest challenge was to finish the shoot within the schedule. We had a wafer thin budget and each day lost on shoot (due to weather, mostly) had a monetary cost attached to it. Half my unit fell sick due to food issues. We overcame the weather by innovating on location, as in, moving some exterior scenes into interior settings. It was either move it indoors or pay the crew their daily wages to play cricket in the rain.  

How do you plan to distribute the film beyond festivals? Is there a specific plan?

Bhaskar: You’re talking to a guy who has distributed a total of zero films in all so this is going to be a steep learning curve. But from peers in the filmmaking circuit and online resources, the basic policy is to find agents who can do the job you are not trained for - selling. And apparently, it seems you don’t find agents - they find you. So I am hoping the movie does well in festivals and gets noticed.  

What about film promotions?

Bhaskar: We are already promoting the film through our Facebook page. We’re also pretty active on Instagram and Twitter, and have recently made an appearance on Reddit. Our social media team is small so we do what we can.  

Do you plan to get any big names involved in the distributing and marketing of the film?

Bhaskar: This is my first attempt at marketing a film, I'll do whatever I can to do it well. If it includes celebrity endorsements, then why not?  

What are the most important things an indie filmmaker on a budget needs?

Bhaskar: What does he/she NOT need?! But, the most critical thing in the armoury of an independent filmmaker is a kickass script. Everything else will fall into place if the script is good.  

What's on your plate after this?

Bhaskar: I’m presently preparing a concept for a documentary that I aim to crowdfund for (on Wishberry, of course ;)).  

What kind of work are you looking to do in the future?

Bhaskar: I'd like to work on films that have good content. I get attracted to stories that are dark, provocative, and take a cynical view on humanity. Not all stories have a happy ending in life, so there's no reason why cinema should shy away from exploring the beauty behind emotions like misery, terror, repugnance and melancholia.
UPDATE: In case you don't know yet, Kothanodi has received the rare international honour of being selected by the Asian Cinema Fund, South Korea, for its Post Production Grant 2015. This is the first time that an Assamese film has been selected for the prestigious grant, and Kothanodi is only the second film from India to receive this honour in the history of the Grant. Curious to know how you can raise funds for your film like how Bhaskar Hazarika did? Just submit your details below and we will teach you how you can raise funds successfully! [gravityform id="12" title="false" description="false"]  

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