Making your own film can be a long journey in itself. It is a journey that you may begin without realising it. Seamedu alumnus, Vishal Mourya, began his journey as a film maker in his childhood. The movies and cartoons he watched in his childhood influenced him to tell his stories using visual media, to portray them in as realistic a manner as possible.
All journeys are fraught with twists and turns, however and Mourya went down the traditional path of completing his Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering in IT and worked for an MNC in Pune before deciding to let it all go to follow his real passion – film making. His search to study the art of making movies led him to find Seamedu’s course in film making and was immediately struck by the facilities on offer to meet the needs of young aspirants looking to establish their careers. He was also attracted to Seamedu’s principle of ‘learning by doing’. He states “I am very happy to say that institute is keener to provide more field experience rather than only giving classroom lectures. It makes student more capable doing things on their own. Short projects carried out in the institute gave us more confidence and real knowledge.”
Making a film takes time and no one understands this better than the faculty at Seamedu. Even the best laid plans for a day’s shoot can go awry. Mourya fondly recounts an incident where he went off campus for a whole day’s shoot with his classmates using equipment borrowed from Seamedu. They returned late, many hours past the deadline to return the equipment, terrified that they will get into trouble with their faculty and sure that they would never be allowed to use any equipment belonging to the institute again! The faculty did not even bat an eyelid when they entered. “It was as if nothing had happened,” he laughs. “Whether it was an editing session or a shoot, we never faced timing issues from the institute. We received support 24/7 from the staff”.
It is this attitude that really encouraged him to step up to the demands of the industry in the real world. Field visits during the course, including one to Star Plus, provided real work experience. He has never looked back since and has worked on a number of shows including short films, documentaries and reality shows. Working on a movie for Doordarshan, Maru Mallhara has been another feather in his cap. The experience he has had working in the industry along with the firm grounding he has received from Seamedu on “all the fundamental film making principles” has enabled him to finally live his dream and make his own Hindi Feature Film.
B for Bundelkhand has brought Mourya back full circle to his childhood; to a region he has been familiar with since his childhood and so privy to all its drought ridden troubles as well. Chronic drought and the unexpected rainfalls have made this region the worst land in India for farming, but the people who have made their lives in this place have nowhere else to go. The younger generations move to the cities in search of work leaving the elders behind who are often forced to sell their lands just to survive.
B for Bundelkhand is the first feature film directed by Vishal Mourya and Debi Prasad Lenka. In this film, an aging farmer Ram Singh lives with his only son in Lalla in the village. The father and son share a difficult relationship ever since the death of the mother. Due to Bundelkhand worse condition, Lalla leaves his father and his girl behind in the village to work in the big city. Alas, Ram Singh is left alone in the village. Things get worse as crops are lost due to an unexpected rain fall. This makes Ram Singh sad and depressed, he is almost on the verge of suicide, believing the insurance will help pay for all the remaining debt and leave his son enough money behind to work with.
Mourya is fulfilling is childhood ambition to tell stories with a stark reality through this film. He stands by this, saying “As a film maker, I believe I have a very strong medium that I can use to help the Bundelkhand farmers and to expose their real pain to world. So I thought to make my first feature on this region’s problems mixed in with the universal worries a father and son might share. Everyday life brought to life on the screen. These people need our help, not our indifference.”
The film explores the challenges of farmers in poorer areas of the world face. It is a universal fear of not being able to eat, earn or take care of your family. These fears are amplified when you own lands and are responsible for their success.
Mourya’s co-director Debi Prasad Lenka also feels strongly about social issues making them a dream team for a film with such a strong message. The producer Vivek Maurya’s familiarity with the area has proved to be a blessing as well. Raising funds for the movie took a whole four years and is independent of any government or private funding. The film was shot entirely on location in Bundelkhand with the shooting lasting 25 days. It was not an easy process as none of the actors, apart from the lead had any experience acting in front of a camera.
The hard work has paid off though with B for Bundelkhand winning the Best Debut Filmmaker Award in the 7th season of the prestigious Calcutta International Cult Film Festival.
This film speaks of dreams and passion, concepts that are hauntingly similar to Mourya’s own path to fulfilling his ambition to be an independent film maker.
Mourya expressed his gratefulness to his alma mater by saying, “I once again thank all my tutors and colleagues who shared their precious thoughts and knowledge with me. And I congratulate the current students of Seamedu for choosing this pioneering institute. I would say one thing to all students that just keep on doing what you love persistently and never stop yourself under any circumstances.”
Featured Image Source: hindustantimes.com