If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door. – Milton Berle
Sandip Pratihar is a living example of this beautiful quote. This young and talented filmmaker was overlooked by producers because he did not have ‘enough experience’. Where most people would have given up, Sandip did not. This young man from a small village of West Bengal has big dreams and he is not ready to give up on them. To prove his worth and true merit, he takes up a camera, shoots a short film in 24 hours and goes on to win awards and nominations all around the globe.
Half Samosa is proud to talk to Sandip Pratihar, screenplay writer, director, independent filmmaker and a man with a will.
Half Samosa: Before we talk about your award winning films, we are really curious to know about you.
Sandip: I am basically from small village in Hoogly called Arambag. I was born in 1987, and have graduated from Calcutta University.
I have no degree on film making. I worked with a theatre group for 5 years and there I got to work with respectable theatre personality Janardan Ghosh. Today I am also a screenplay writer and also direct my films.
Half Samosa: How did you learn to make films then?
Sandip: I love to watch different kinds of films and it is also from these films that I watch and learn. Films are not only entertainment but also an educational experience for me because that is where I learn film making.
Half Samosa: You have had a tough time with no opportunities?
Sandip: I do not have the money to make feature films. I could not get any producer because unfortunately hardly any chance is given to a young film maker without experience. So in a way there is a question raised on your ability.
So I started to think for a solution. I thought why not make short films. It will also fit my no-budget circumstance. But this will help me to prove my ability. I can also submit the project as a work profile.
Half Samosa: Your first film was Matter of Fiction in 2014. As a first film, this was quite challenging as it played with very deep concepts of time and experience.
Sandip: Yes, it explored the concept of time. If you see closely, time is a series of moments that passes from one to the other. This short film focuses on the moments, that creates the illusion of flow. The moments are the truth; the flow is an apparent appearance. In Matter of Fiction I have attempted to capture the frozen moments of life, when time can be still. These pregnant fractions of life, review the truth of existence. Here we have to cross the perceived reality and have to approache reality and fiction through moments of time.
Matter of Fiction was one of the Official selections for 5th Siliguri International Short Film and Documentary Contest 2014.
Half Samosa: Not many filmmakers that we know in India would have explored these mind-boggling concepts in films. That was a great idea! Please tell us about Pahal, your most talked about film at this moment.
Sandip: I made Pahal in 2015 and we have done the entire shoot in one day. The story of a struggling filmmaker, it is about his life and trials as a new filmmaker. Not only does the film industry disappoint him but he is also betrayed by the people he knows and trusts. This heart-rending story is revealed by a journalist.
Half Samosa: Pahal was received very well at the film festivals.
Sandip: Yes, Pahal bagged a winning entry and the Best Director Award at MedFF July 2016 in Italy. It was an Official selection at AVIFF CANNES CATALOG2 2016 France.
It was an Official selection at 13th Frames Film Festival 2016 Mumbai.
Pahal was also a special selection by the jury and it was an Award Winner – Special Mention at International Open Film Festival (IOFF) 2016 which had entries of over 4000+ films from 105 countries with 338 international juries.
Half Samosa: That is amazing.
Sandip: I am very much thankful to my entire cast and crew members – they had supported me lot and everybody has worked non-payment. I am especially thankful to Abhishek Chakraborty (DOP) & Abhijan Basu (Dialog writer) as they have given a standard to this film.
Half Samosa: This is an inspiring example of teamwork. What are the other films you are doing?
Sandip: After Pahal I recently made Sita in 2016. It is fictional drama based on women and sexual abuse. Sita will be having a World premiere at Palestine this month.
Half Samosa: Any particular reason it is named as Sita?
Sandip: According to Indian mythologies, women are considered to be the center of immense energy and power. At the same time, women have been a target of social evils and objects of oppression.
Sita is a provocative short film, revolving around the issue of sexual abuse in the modern world. The protagonist is about to be attacked by three men for rape and what she does, depicts a deep universal meaning and significance. Sita is inspired by Ramayana, where mother Sita is believed to be born out of the Earth and after a life of pain and suffering, she chose to merge with the Earth. The Laxman rekha drawn by her brother -in- law was to protect her from any evil. Despite that she was taken away by Ravana, the villain in the story.
Sita is a representative for all women out there who have the blessing of nature to procreate, the power to give birth to a new entity in the world. A mother’s womb is a symbol of universal power that a woman possesses. The crime against women such as rape is a disrespect of this universal energy which human beings are bound to protect and preserve.
Half Samosa: It is a beautiful perspective to see and realize the fact that women are actually the center of immense energy. We truly appreciate your effort of showing things in a different light.
Sandip: Another ongoing project is Prisoner, a 40 minute long film based on the 1975 emergency time.
Half Samosa: Are you planning to go commercial as well or plan to continue on the present genre?
Sandip: I have always loved to work on surreal subjects, drama, on true stories and plots that deal with deep human feelings.
I am also a screenplay writer. I have finished five feature film scripts; one of them is a Hindi script. Those are arranged properly on my rack waiting for an opportunity.
Half Samosa: We pray that you get all the opportunity and success. One last question to finish off, what keeps you going and inspiring to make films against all the odds?
Sandip: I believe that film is a medium where people enjoy some time together. They find both their joys and sorrows. They identify with the subjects when they rebel and protest. It will always be endeavor to try to make the kind of film where the lost and unwelcome voices of our world will also get to reach the people. That in itself is my motivation.
Half Samosa: Thank you Sandip. Wishing you the best in all your ventures.
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