Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Long and SHORT of it

Harsha Kulkarni, who showcased his short film Lost And Found at the Mumbai International Film Festival (MIFF), tells Sandhya Iyer that the avenues for creative filmmakers is on the rise

In a country teeming with aspiring filmmakers, short films are the easiest and the most viable medium to showcase one's talent. Obviously, the road to big time filmmaking in Bollywood is still an extremely tough one to traverse, but meanwhile there's a lot happening with the short film industry itself.
For starters, short film director Harsha Kulkarni feels the market here has greatly improved. His own film, Lost And Found -which was a project funded by the MTDC (Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation)-- enabled him to make it into a creative venture, without it seeming like an outright plug. "Presenting the natural beauty found in Maharashtra, in the Konkan belt and beaches, was ofcourse part of the main deal but instead of a flat-out travelogue in documentary style, I preferred weaving a story around it. So here, you have a bottle which travels in different times and spaces and takes on the colour and character of its surrondings. As it changes hands, it evokes different emotions in different people who own it. The objective was to to have it as a stand-alone film inspite of it being an advertisement," says Harsha , who earlier made another short film called The Chosen One for Star and also worked closely on last's years release Apna Asman. That apart, there's been his corporate film for Warna which came in for much praise.

One has always wondered why short films can't be marketed along with mainstream films and shown at theatres? But Harsha believes that the short film marker has enough avenues open for it already. " Cinema is not the only way to exhibit these films. Television can do it. In fact, I believe NDTV is coming up with a channel that will have a lot to do with short films. Then there the net, where there are companies who take up distribution rights of some selected films and release them on DVD. In fact, diploma films of FTII are among the most pirated ones. Then there are so many film festivals all around," says the ex-FTIIian.

But niche programming is a problem with television, he admits. "The general attitude still is that there is no viewership for short films. Mass programming is still what most channels prefer. Look at Star One, which started out as such a promising, niche channel but ambition got the better of them and they chose mass over class."
Even though opportunities all around are growing for creative and talented directors, entry in Bollywood is far from easy.
"I do have a bound script and do plan to make a feature film sometime soon. That's the ultimate high and everyone wants it. For me, advertising was about bread and butter. Films still can't be a career, till something really works out," he says.