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International Film Festival Rotterdam

Combining within its organisation the International Film Festival Rotterdam, the Hubert Bals Fund and co-production market CineMart, IFFR offers a launching pad and supportive platform for innovative and talented independent filmmakers.


Interview with Prantik Basu winner with his short Sakhisona of one of the three Tiger Awards for Short Film.

  • Tiger Short interview Prantik Basu

At the Award Ceremony on Sunday 29 January, Prantik Basu's Sakhisona was awarded with one of the three Tiger Awards for Short Film.

Can you tell us a bit about your background as an artist.
I used to write and illustrate for a Bengali children’s magazine when I was in high school. While doing my graduation in English Literature at the Calcutta University, I started working at a local television channel as a script writer. In 2007, I wrote and directed a short film that eventually led to my selection for the three years post graduate diploma course in film direction at the prestigious Film and Television Institute of India in Pune. There, I worked across disciplines and mediums. I especially enjoyed shooting on 16 mm black and white film with old Arriflex SR2 cameras. There would be so much left to chance and processing the negative would open up a gamut of possibilities to explore the materiality of the medium.

What was the starting point for this project?
After graduating from the film school, I started working independently on various documentaries and short film ideas. I was developing a documentary project on the excavations at Mogulmari and was applying for grants, both nationally and internationally to support the production. Then I got a call from FTII to make a short film for them as an external/guest director.
My work derives inspiration from spaces. I am most interested in landscapes that depict a certain mood and structures or patters are usually the canvas for my ideas. While we were doing recee for the film, the landscape of Tamhini Ghat seemed suitable for a fictional rendition of the tales from Mogulmari and that was the starting point for Sakhisona.

What is the role of the myths you refer to in your work in current society?
Myths work as a time capsule. It is an access to the anecdotal history, and in turn, the ethos of a community. For me, the tale of Sakhisona, though primitive, seemed extremely contemporary and progressive in nature. The protagonist battles her grief of lost love and emerges victorious in the end after successfully fighting her inner demon. There is a certain humor in the allegory of a man being tempted by a fruit and turning into a goat. Apart from various cross cultural references, it displays traits of feminism and resonates an idea of the Samkhya philosophy of Purusha and Prakriti where Purusha is the soul, the Self or pure consciousness. The word literally means "man" in Sanskrit. Prakriti is that which is created. It is nature in all her aspects. Prakriti literally means "creatrix," the female creative energy. Thus, for me, it became a story of transformation.

  • Tiger Short interview Prantik Basu
  • Tiger Short interview Prantik Basu
  • Tiger Short interview Prantik Basu
  • Tiger Short interview Prantik Basu

Can you tell us a little about the techniques you used? Did you shoot your film on celluloid?
Yes. Ours was probably the last student project to have been shot on celluloid, right before the institute went through a complete overhaul in terms of infrastructural facilities. We were lucky to have been given a choice between digital and celluloid and it was an easy decision. The story is about excavation, memories, myths and their remains. It is like unearthing buried stories, in fragments. Like cinema, archaeology also unfolds in a spatiotemporal setting. In excavation, one doesn’t know what one would eventually discover. The narrative is formed by co relating broken and disjoined objects. Hence the choice to keep the narrative non linear.
In terms of other techniques, we used old stocks and push processed the negative to enhance the grains. We wanted the visuals to seem as though they were some archival footage. The choice of Academy standard film aspect ratio seemed suitable in this regard. Since we used some superimpositions (both on camera and on post) and stills, we eventually had to opt for a digital output, though we tried really hard to get a married print for the film.

Perhaps tell us something on the next project you will be working on.
I am currently editing my first documentary feature Jungle Mahal. It is an attempt to understand the co relation of a region’s folk art with the terrain it thrives in and how the landscape influences its attributes. This project is being supported by an early career film Fellowship from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences and is scheduled to be complete by April this year. Apart from this, I am developing the script for my first fiction feature, Nectar.

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Combining within its organisation the International Film Festival Rotterdam, the Hubert Bals Fund and co-production market CineMart, IFFR offers a launching pad and supportive platform for innovative and talented independent filmmakers.



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