Event : NEN (National Entrepreneurship network) E-Week ,Chrysalis 2013
Date: 14th February 2013
Place: ELTIS Auditorium, Symbiosis Institute of Computer Studies & Research, Pune
Place: ELTIS Auditorium, Symbiosis Institute of Computer Studies & Research, Pune
On a pleasant Thursday evening in Pune, on the eve of Valentine’s Day , while there were some youngsters spending precious moments with their sweethearts, some professing their love to their beloved, some love birds whispering sweet nothings into each others’ ears, there was a troop of young aspiring entrepreneurs ,currently students of SICSR, seated in the dim lights of ELTIS auditorium with dreams in their eyes and fiery aspirations in their hearts watching a film about an entrepreneurial journey of 4 boys in their mid twenties who have set out to start something of their own : Shuttlecock Boys.
The film screening was preceded by a round of introduction from the Producer of the film, Pankaj Johar and was followed by an interactive session with the director of the film, Hemant Kumar Gaba.
Here are some excerpts from the session..
Students: Can you please say a few words about you and about your film?
Pankaj : Hemant and I go a long way back. We are friends since childhood. I am from Finace background and Hemant is from IT. This film is somewhat autobiographical in nature. We had quit our lucrative jobs, Hemant had come back from New York and we came together to make this film. We hired the technical team from FTII. We invested our savings and borrowed money from friends and relatives. So, this was a big gamble for us. Later we ran into trouble. The film had caught lab fire but finally it was digitally restored and we could complete it.
Students: Congratulations for your film. We loved every bit of it.
Hemant: Thank you. And thank you so much for coming together to watch this film. I would also like to thank Symbiosis and National Entrepreneurship Network for sponsoring this event.
Students: What challenges did you face to make this film?
Hemant : First of all, I was new to this field. I had initially attended some workshops but that was not enough. So, I was still a rookie. We managed to shoot the film in 22 days .We had shot in film format. We ran into trouble when the film had caught lab fire where it was stored and after too much struggle and following up we finally managed to get it digitally restored. Then dealing with vendors at different level is not as easy as it seems. Anybody who wants to be a filmmaker or an entrepreneur has to go through these initial levels of hiccups. You cannot pass by them.
Students: Can you say something about your cast and crew. Where are they now?
Hemant: Aakar Kaushik is a media student from AAFT (Asian Academy of Film and Television) ,Gurgaon. Currently he is working as an assistant director in Yash Raj Films. Manish Nawani is from Barry John’s Theatre. He is working on a couple of projects currently. Alok Kumar has appeared in a lot of television serials. He has also done some episodes of Gumraah. Shanti Bhushan Roy is an FTII passout. This was his first project before he went on to work for Aamir Khan’s Satyamev Jayate.
Students: Did you have to essay multiple roles while making the film or you just concentrated on direction?
Hemant : I did have to essay multiple roles i.e. from overseeing and managing the production to even ironing some of the actors clothes at times (smiles). There were also a lot of non-actors involved. So, there were times where some dialogs needed to be improvised in the last minute. There was no dedicated dialog writer for that, so I also had to manage in such places.
Students : When did this filmmaking bug bite you? What was the event which made you leave your lucrative career behind and get into movies?
Hemant: It was a book that I read that got me interested. I was not really happy with my software career and wanted to do something of my own. I had tried my hand at music earlier but had failed miserably. There was this book called Rebel without a Crew written by Robert Rodriguez where the filmmaker has described how he went on to make his first independent film El Mariachi. Pankaj had asked me to get this book from the UK. I had brought this book for him but it was lying untouched for some time. Out of curiosity I started reading it and I got completely involved and intrigued with the entire idea about it. But once I decided that I would do this and never look back, this was it. I believed that there is a huge road ahead which I needed to cover.
Students : How did you chance upon the idea i.e. the concept of the movie ?
Hemant : It basically came from what I was going through and what I observed about people around me often during lunch hours in office.
Students : Any advice that you would like to provide to aspiring entrepreneurs ?
Hemant : Honestly , it’s to each on his own. The voice has to come from within. Till the time that happens there will not be any point. It could be anything. It could be a product. It could be a mobile app. It could be starting a service. You just need to listen to the call from within. That’s all I can say.
Students: What risks did you have to take and what sacrifices did you have to make?
Hemant: When I was in software I had a pretty decent lifestyle which I could not afford for the last four five years now. So that is the sacrifice .But I would not really call it a sacrifice. Making sure that there is enough support from family and friends is the key thing. This is what keeps you going.
Students: There was a news article which quoted that you met Sudhish kamath( Independent Film-maker, Director: Good Night Good Morning, Film critic : The Hindu) and he introduced you to PVR Director’s Rare and now your film has been released by them. How did this entire thing happen? What was your journey like in marketing this film?
Hemant: With PVR it took us around 8 months of follow up before we could get them to release this and with marketing we mostly relied on social media. We also managed to get some peer buzz from online articles and some newspaper coverage. We managed to get some decent reviews across the board which we were really happy about. We were not actually expecting it. We were expecting an average rating of 2 – 2.5 out of 5 but we managed to get 3+. That was something we were really excited about. One more thing was that the film got featured in top 10 independent films by IANS (Indo-Asian News Service) in January 2012 but we were not really expecting it. So we were really happy about it (smiles).I met Sudish Kamath in Film Bazaar in 2011. His film (Good Night Good Morning) was getting showcased which I had seen a couple of times in film-festivals like MAMI (Mumbai Academy of Moving Images), so this is how I got in touch with him. This is a very small network-driven industry. Twitter is also another tool/medium where we started interacting. Slowly we got to meet some other people as well , either they are film critics or independent filmmakers.
Students: Have you ever considered going back to the IT industry or have you started off with your production house in full swing, taking up projects to work upon?
Hemant : There was a time in 2009 when I was almost penniless living with five people in Mumbai in a congested apartment. That was the time I felt that I need to start working again. I thought I would continue with filmmaking but work in IT to earn some money. I also appeared for two three interviews. Thankfully I never got selected (laughs). But, now we have decently build a production house whose name is Penny Wise Films Private Limited which I go on with my friend and partner Pankaj Johar who introduced the film. We are also working on features and documentaries. Recently we have done a documentary called ' Still Standing ' which is about a gentleman who is quadriplegic for the last 26 years This film went on to win the Dadasaheb Phalke award by Maharashtra Government and Mumbai International Film Festival. It was a part of Satyamev Jayate disability episode as well. And the NGO which backed this film managed to rake in 1 Crore in donation which was splendid. Of course we did not get any buy off but still it was a great moment for us (smiles). Then we started working at corporate films as well for Punjab Government, United Nations, TEDx Delhi, TEDx Jaipur and Skoda. Right now we are working for a client called India Africa Shared Future. Then recently we went to Davos for the World Economy Summit to shoot something for four to five days. So, now things are building up. We also want to start working at ad films. These are really important to keep the money circulation going on. We are also working on three more projects, a documentary which is currently in production and the other two are feature like fiction projects one of which we will start in 2014 i.e. next year. We are targeting a list of international film festival markets and hope to set a footprint there.So let us see if that happens.
Students: That is spectacular feat. We loved your film. We learnt so much from it and from the interactive session with you. We hope that we would inculcate whatever we have learnt here not only in our professional lives but also in our personal lives. Thank you so much for being with us. Wish you all the best .We hope to see and hear more of you in the days to come.
Hemant: Thank you.