Interview of Khanjan Kishore Nath – the man behind the first Assamese crowd-funded movie
Hailing from a village in Assam, Khanjan Kishore Nath is yet another inspirational example of a dynamic personality who has proved that making dreams come true cannot always be marred by shortage of finance. He made the first ever crowd-funded film of Assam called Saknoia, which has won accolades all over. This man is the kind of artist who indulges in art just because he simply loves it, and not because he wants to earn money and fame through the same. Here is an interview with this absolutely humble and determined film maker.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Basically I would love to introduce myself as a “village filmmaker”. I was born in a hilly village of Karbi Anglong called Baithalangso in the year of 1985. There, I spent 16 years of my life. Those years were the best years of my life. It gave me vast experience about life, nature and people. I think I am very down to earth, and can connect extremely well with village life and villagers.
Education details – schooling, college and after.
I completed my schooling in my village Baithalangso. After that I came to Nagaon, which is a small town, to pursue further studies. I wanted to study arts but my father forced me to join Science stream. So I took up Science ; but due to lack of interest, I failed in it. Thus I lost three years and again joined Arts. After getting done with H.S., I came to Guwahati. I wanted to study Literature as a major subject but again my father forced me to join BBA. And so, I took admission in BBA in NERIM. I passed out in 2009. After that I went to Mumbai to pursue film making course. I joined the Zee Institute of Media Arts, for a course in Direction. But before doing this course, I had already made three short films. The institute gave me an environment which inspired me a lot. After completing the course I came back to Assam and completed Masters in Communication and Journalism from Gauhati University.
What initially interested you into film making?
When I was a school boy, I used to watch Bhaona (traditional form of entertainment in Assam) in my village. But it did not attract me due to its unorganized manner. In our village there was a cinema hall made by bamboo. We were not allowed to go there . But there, for the first time, I watched the Assamese film “Haladhiya Sarai Bao Dhan Khai” by Jahnu Barua in big screen. I was completely surprised to see the big, moving pictures! May be that was the first time, when I felt an interest towards film making. When I used to come to Nagaon, every Friday I used to watch films in the cinema hall and gradually my interest towards films began to rise. During that time an organization held a film festival in Nagaon and I got the opportunity to watch all the films screened. Actually that was the turning point for me. It changed my entire perception of films. It gave me the chance to understand what films actually mean and brought me to the field of realistic films.
What does film making mean to you?
For me film making is not about just making some visuals. This is the one of the most creative ways of art. I have some stories to tell which I can construct through camera only. I can’t write a story through pen. So for me this is the easiest way to tell a story.
What inspires you? How do you define your work?
I think the first inspiration comes from our own hearts. There are lots of people and lots of small incidents which have inspired me. My village, my people and my culture have always inspired me a lot. Every small incident that happens in my life also inspires me. Whenever I think of some concept, the first thing that comes to my mind is my village. That’s why I always go to my village. The green Tika hills, and the Barpani River inspire me emotionally all the time. The works of legendary filmmakers like Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Akira Kurosawa, Wong Kar-wai, Kim Ki duk and others help me to understand the medium of cinema. Their magical style of cinema-making teaches me the art. My works are very simple and straight forward, as well as village oriented. I think my work reflects my life. Cinema is also a part of life. It reflects our society, thoughts, culture etc. My cinema is not different from all these. For me, I don’t want to define my cinema as an Assamese cinema. Yes, my films are in Assamese language, but I would love to say that my approach of film making is world cinema only.
Please brief your work profile as a film maker from inception till date.
|The Quest (Surjya Sandhan)||Short Film||2006|
|Twilight (Oporahno)||Short Film||2007|
|The Horizon (Khuj)||Short Film||2008|
|The River Flows (Saknoia)||Short Film||2013|
- All the short films were selected for various film festivals like the Indian Film Festival Stuttgart/Germany, Madurai International Short Film Festival, Vibgyor International short Film Festival, National Student Film Festival, Cinemela Film Festival etc.
- “The Bicycle” was selected for FILM BAZAAR organized by International Film Festival of India (IFFI 2011).
- “The Bicycle” was invited to PRODUCER’S LAB organized by International Film Festival of Rotterdam 2012
- “If” won best student film award in Global Short Film Festival 2012 in Bangalore and Won Best Director, Best Cinematographer & Best Actor in R.A.I.T Film Festival at D.Y. Patil University.
- “Saknoia” was selected for various film festivals such as Indian Film Festival Stuttgart/Germany, Baghdad International Film Festival, Iraq, 5thCMS International Children’s Film Festival 2013, etc.
How did the concept of “Saknoia” come to you?
From my personal point of view, “Saknoia” is not really an exceptional film, except from one point. The exceptional point is that it is the first ever Assamese crowd funding film. The concept of “Saknoia” is very simple. Before deciding the finance for the film, I had fixed the location and arranged requirements for production. I didn’t have a single penny, so I decided not to invest money ; and that was why I selected the particular concept. I used the villagers as actors in my film.
How did you come up with the idea of crowd-funding? And how was the response?
I really wanted to make the film but I didn’t have funds. Also, nobody wants to invest 20 thousand rupees for a short film. But I wanted to make it anyhow. So I made an appeal on Facebook, asking people to donate bucks for my film. I “inboxed” my friends on Facebook. The concept of crowd-funding is not new in the field of cinema. Films of such kind have been made earlier in India and abroad. But in Assam “Saknoia” has been the first step. In the initial stage people did not show interest towards my appeal. Some people even doubted that I might use the money to run some kind of business. Still some people supported me. I got funds from people belonging to Assam, Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Chandigarh, Aurangabad and Dubai. I think I received great response from the people.
What kind of impact has “Saknoia” made in your life?
“Saknoia” is a special film for me for various reasons. Earlier I made short films without any proper distribution, marketing and promotion. “Saknoia” is not only the first ever crowd funding film in Assam, but also the first Assamese short film that was properly distributed online. “Saknoia” was picked up by Pocket Films from Mumbai for distribution. In terms of promotion, this short film got good response from the media also. Not to forget, this film gave me an opportunity to attend a prestigious film festival in Germany, from where I learn a lot.
Right now I am working on my next short film “Apunsir”. It is in Karbi language. This is going to be the first ever Karbi short film. After this I am going to start my first feature film “THE BICYCLE” (CHOR). Hopefully the project can go on floor in April this year.
How has your work experience been?
For me film making is not about glamour. During these years I have learnt a lot of things regarding film making. Sometimes it gives pleasure, and sometimes it gives me sorrow. Till now I have been making short films without any financial support. This gives the advantage of zero barriers from the producer. Most importantly, the results and the responses always give me immense pleasure when my films are screened in festivals.
Your future plans?
Future is always uncertain. Still we plan a lot. Right now my complete concentration is on my Karbi short film. After that, shooting “The Bicycle” (Chor) will be the main priority. This project was already selected in Film Bazaar in International Film Festival of India 2011 and also invited to International Film Festival of Rotterdam 2012. There are some other ambitious projects in my mind. I am planning to make a film on Humen Barguhain’s controversial novel “Subala” and another Karbi feature film. Hope everything will go according to my plan.
How would you rate your journey so far?
I have been a student of cinema till now. I am trying to learn more about cinema, as much as possible. Till date I have been able to learn just the “A B C..” of cinema . The world of Cinema is vast. I am just a newborn baby in this world.
Any message for aspiring film makers?
I am also an aspiring filmmaker from Assam. So I don’t have that much experience or knowledge to give any message. I would like to say that language is not a very crucial factor for a good film. We can go everywhere in this world with a film of our own language. For that we just need a really good concept.