Dadasaheb Phalke Is An Idea In ‘Rangbhoomi’: Kamal Swaroop

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Bhubaneswar: The three-day long Indian Documentary Film Festival in Odisha capital drew to a close on Sunday. The festival opened with a film on the doyen of Odissi music, Shayamamani Devi, by Santosh Gour followed by master filmmaker Qaushiq Mukherjee’s ‘Nabarun’ that describes the life, work and sensibility of Bengali writer Nabarun Bhattacharya. The closing day witnessed national award-winning filmmaker Kamal Swaroop’s ‘Rangbhoomi’, a research-based documentary film on father of Indian cinema Dadasaheb Phalke’s stay in Benaras.

Swaroop shared his experience of making ‘Rangbhoomi’, an episode in Phalke’s life when he left cinema and started theatre in Benaras, with Odisha Bytes.

Q- What was the idea behind making ‘Rangbhoomi’?

A- Phalke’s life and work had always fascinated me and I started doing research on him in 1990. On the basis of the research work, I made a few documentary films. Later, I conducted workshops across the country. He gave up films and shifted to Benaras, where he started theatre. ‘Rangbhoomi’ retraces Phalke’s two years in Benaras.

Q-The narrative of the film is very unique and lively. Was it a conscious attempt on your part?

A- I had a script of Phalke’s play, which I could not stage due to financial crunch. Then I decided to read out some portions of the play with the light focused on me. I had a recording of Phalke’s children talking about him and their stay in Benaras. There was an emotional connect while making the film. The process of making the film was very transparent with the director moves from one place to another. Nothing was constructed or scripted.

Q- You have not used many photographs of Phalke in the film. The reason?

A- Phalke is an idea. I had used photographs while presenting other chapters of his life. In ‘Rangabhoomi’, except at two places, where his family photographs have been shown, I did not feel the need for it. The photographs should aesthetically appeal to the content.

Q- How did you manage to record the research process with such dexterity? Don’t people object when the conversations are recorded?

A-I am a very friendly person and I have my method of doing it. I instruct my cameraman to follow me and capture the shots quicker than a reporter does while I engage them in a conversation. On several occasions, they do not realise the conversation has been recorded, which makes it even more lively.

Q-The execution is very different from stereotype documentary film. Is there any set rule that you follow while making a documentary?

A-Documentary film has its own beauty. People have now narrowed down the boundary between fiction and facts. Some are making docudramas by introducing fiction into them. Filmmakers have the freedom to creatively present the information instead of just passing it on the traditional way.

Q-Why documentary films fail to draw audience?

A- Documentary films are engrossing, but they are not made for entertainment. That is why we do not see much audience. The sole purpose is documentation of the subject.