Rama Barhat took up filmmaking when she was just 19 years old. We spoke to this vivacious girl and here is the excerpt of a very interesting conversation.
Tell us about your life journey and how you got interested in filmmaking?
I was born and brought up in Udaipur. It was an usual childhood but my life changed when I came to Shikshantar 6 years earlier. At that time, they have organized a filmmaking workshop. It was very strange for me as my perception of films is limited to big bollywood movies and I was surprised and shocked at the same time that you can become a filmmaker just by attending a small workshop. At the same time, I used to think, filmmakers are very different, glamorous people and they must be very intelligent creative etc. I used to think there is a huge gap between filmmakers and me. So I decided to opt for this workshop.
What happened next?
While I was attending this workshop, my perception changed and I made a short film during this workshop which I titled ‘Mera movie’ and it was like story told through pictures and voice over. In this workshop, trainer was also impressed with me as I was totally involved in it and asking questions, going into detail. After this there was another filmmaking event was happening in Goa where they were giving fellowship to the filmmakers but they did not accept my application as I was just 19 years old. I kept on insisting them so they agreed to take me without fellowship just as trainee.
During this training, our instructor asked us – If I give you a camera and 10mins, on what subject you would like to make a film. It was just hypothetical question but everybody started thinking but I very promptly replied that I want to make a movie on ‘Auto aunty’ (A lady who drives auto rickshaw in my home town Udaipur). There were few more such small incidents and those people were so interested that they bent their rules and gave me fellowship. Later I made a short documentary film on auto aunty named – “Jazba”.
What kind of films you have made?
I make documentary films. I very strongly believe that storytelling through films is a very strong medium. Somehow in commercial films, that feature is not used as per its capacity. For a commercial filmmakers, there are many constraints with which they have to deal with. I want to make films on people who are doing very good work in society, who are change makers, basically people whom you can meet easily. My movies should inspire people through these people’s stories. Making movies on celebrities or biographies of rich people doesn’t excite me as common man actually doesn’t connect to them.
What difficulties you face as an independent filmmakers?
I think filmmaking is an intensive process and requires lots of effort and your full concentration but after putting so much hard work, monetization of your works remains a huge problem. You don’t believe, many people offer 3000 rs for a short film. There is no support from government as such as. There should be an institution which should take care of this. The irony is that people then start comparing us with clerical level jobs that those people earn so much than you.
Any fun/ memorable incident?
I sent my short film for an international film festival. The film got shortlisted but award was based on online voting. There were films from many nations and I was lagging way below in vote counts. I remember, I only got 146 votes till last moment and I completely lost hope. Next day, I got a call that my film has won, it is still a mystery for me what happened. This whole incident is very memorable.
When I was shooting film – Auto aunty, I spent lot of time with her. I sat on the front seat with her which I have never done before that, how she speaks with clients and then having food at her house, everything was amazing.
One more, when I was making a film on a ‘Dabeliwala’ in Nasik, that person use to give me full size chocolate sand witch daily. It was fun.
What advice you’d like to give to someone who is interested/newbee in theater?
My advice would be that in initial days filmmakers should also find an alternate source of income. They should at least work for 4-5 hours to earn money and rest of the time in following their passion.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I also publish a magazine – “Rama panthi” where I feature interesting people who are doing good work for community. Currently, I am also exploring gift culture.