All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.
~ Walt Disney
Most of us let go of our dreams for a secure job and stereotyped life. We forget what we wanted to do. But some don’t. Filmmaker Goutam Das is one of them. An Optical Engineer from Kolkata who learned to make films by studying it from the internet.
Today his short films with his team of first time actors are winning global audience and engaging standing ovations.
Half Samosa: Your short film Hypocrites was nominated as Finalist in short film category at IOFF and for best photography at Golden Sun film festival, Italy. It has been taken very well in many film festivals. Please tell us about Hypocrites?
Goutam: Hypocrites is a story of a group of friends. They spend a lot of time together but their different aspirations start to create a distance between them. After their graduation, as they go apart they start to miss the good times.
Ronnie is a character who stays with his live-in partner and is in a stable Central government job but unhappy with his life. Pablo is involved with revolutionary politics but is missing the inspiration. Another of the friends is a budding film maker who is confused about his career, wondering about his job or a typically settled life.
One day Soumya comes back from Bangalore leaving his job. He meets his old friends and plans to arrange a get-together.
On that day all but Pablo remains absent. They misunderstand him due to their inner hypocrisy. This goes on create a tragic and final parting.
Half Samosa: It takes a very different outlook to show young friends in such a different light. It was a great achievement to show this uncomfortable truth and that was taken quite well among the critics.
Goutam: In the short film I have tried to bring forth the darker side of human nature. If you see closely everyone in this society has a certain level of hypocrisy for any reason.
Around 400 people saw the film when it was first publicly screened by 4th bell theaters at Gyan Manch in Kolkata. They cheered and clapped and I feel that was my greatest achievement.
Half Samosa: It was taken quite well internationally as well.
Goutam: Golden Sun film festival of Italy nominated Hypocrites for best photography. IOFF selected and nominated it as Finalist in its short film category.
It was selected in many short film festivals at Kolkata also. We do not have enough money to spend for paid festivals, so I sent it to the festivals where submission was free.
Half Samosa: You have faced a lot of hurdles while shooting without any budget.
Goutam: A lot of unnecessary problems came before shooting. We thought it was not going to happen. I had scripted the film for students at an acting institute but it did not turn out. So I decided to shoot this with my friends.
All the actors are first time actors in this film. Our makeup artist denied to work with us as we were not paying for anything except food. We did not get the place for a workshop before shooting. So we made our own workshop in a very tiny place.
Some of the actors lost interest and quit. Fortunately some of my friends helped and supported me during this time and actually made it happen. I am grateful to Banani, Soubheek, Santanu and my elder sister Dr. Bhrati Das – they stood by and inspired me all the time.
Half Samosa: That’s wonderful. How long have you been making films?
Goutam: I completed 2 years in my film making career .
Half Samosa: Which was your first one?
Goutam: My first film was Detective. I adapted it from a short story written by Rabindranath Thakur. I prefer to say Thakur rather than Tagore because I am a Bengali. Right now I am working to finish my next short feature The Silent Gun.
Half Samosa: Tell us about it.
Goutam: The Silent Gun is basically a non-dialogue movie, but not mime. The characters don’t have the need to talk. The story is about a man from a village who has a gun but no bullets.
He has lost his work as a cadre and has also lost his wife. Now at a mid age he looks like an old man who has reached the edge of his life. He tries to remember his wife’s face but cannot. Finally he decides to come to the city for a new life and uses his silent gun. He faces different types of people, and finally finds something special.
Half Samosa: Do you also act and write in the films?
Goutam: I write, edit, direct my film and also train the actors but have never acted on a serious note. Once I acted in a patriotic fiction play in my high school. I have assisted in the making of a documentary on the singer Haimanti Shukla and two music videos of a renowned band just for free.
Half Samosa: We would love to know a little about your background.
Goutam: I am from a very rural village of East Midnapore and came to Kolkata for graduation.
I used to write poetry and short stories from my childhood. Also I was a voracious reader. At the age of 12, I completed reading a lot of novels and stories by legendary authors like Rabindranath, Bankimchandra and Saratchandra.
I used to read all the Bengali children’s magazine like Shuktara, Chandmama, Anandamela, Kishore Bharati and Sandesh. The Sandesh magazine shared a lot of shooting stories by Satyajit Ray. That made a great impact on me which stayed with me.
When we had the first TV in our house, I was addicted to the films of black and white era. When I first accessed internet in Kolkata it was like an open doorway for me. I started to search and watch foreign films on internet.
Half Samosa: How did you start making short films?
Goutam: At the end of my graduation my friend Supriyo told me to make a short film. But I had no idea how to make one so I postponed the idea. I thought firstly I have to settle my life and then I would go for it. But the desire nudged me and I finally decided to make a short film.
But what I wrote was perfect for a feature so I had to write another story for the short film. I shot the film in a horrible way and it did not look like a movie from any angle. But I saw that people praised the plot and concept. So I decided to take some time to learn the skill and crafts.
I bought a lot of books and downloaded information from the internet. I spent two years on studying film making. Made films by myself.
After that I made Detective using a point and shoot camera. Although I was pursuing Optical Engineering from Calcutta University but my only destination was films. We made all the equipment at our home to save on the cost.
Half Samosa: You like to call your short films as short feature.
Goutam: All my films are scripted for full length feature film. Before I jump to make a feature film I am trying to squeeze the scripts to a short film to learn and experience . That’s why I tell my films short feature. We are also making it by our pocket money.
I really don’t like a one punch liner short film. I love to establish characters more than the plot.
Half Samosa: What is the genre you prefer to work on?
Goutam: I don’t like to get stuck with any particular genre, I wish to try every genre in my life. Only at the end of my career I can say which one was right genre for me. I am also open to make a very good but mainstream commercial movie.
Half Samosa: What keeps you going and motivating to create such fine films?
Goutam: I do not consider being bound to anything. I feel that in the Bengali film industry some people created a gap with the audience to hide their own shortcomings.
I feel that there are only two types of genre in this world. Good movies and bad movies. The good and bad also vary with the audience. If a film resonates with my heart, I will say it is good for me. Someone will say it’s not good, that’s not an issue.
My own team which is now growing, learning and mastering on all aspects of film making. I am very much dependent on them and grateful to them. Soubheek, Santanu, Supriyo, Debobroto and all the others. I cannot say I am an Independent filmmaker because I am nothing without them.
Half Samosa: We really value gratefulness and team work in a person. We feel that people will feel inspired by your story of chasing your dreams. Half Samosa wishes you and your team the best of all the success.