Theatre has shaped me as a filmmaker: Ritesh Sharma


By Sukant Deepak New Delhi, May 17 : Theatre, he says has been instrumental in making him more sensitive, and allowed him to reach out and understand people at multiple levels. "Not just with adults, I have also been doing a lot of theatre with children. Though I started with the art form in Banaras, my birthplace, I continued with it in Delhi. In my first film, 'The Holy Wives', the impact of the medium is quite clear in my style," filmmaker Ritesh Sharma, whose latest movie 'Jhini Bini Chadariya' won the 'Best Debut Film' award at the recently concluded 'The New York Indian Film Festival, tells IANS. Looking at the lives of the city's street dancers and handloom weavers, Sharma wanted the audiences to see Banaras beyond its religious colour. "I wanted to portray the Banaras that has not been shown in films. I started writing the movie in 2015. At that time it was called 'Taana Baana'. And I went to the city and met my characters there. I first write about the characters and then put a story together. Though I wanted to work on a love story, there were a lot of political changes that were going on at that time which eventually became a part of the movie," he recalls about 'Jhini Bini Chadariya' that was premiered at the 34th Tokyo International Film Festival. For someone who explored the documentary medium before taking a plunge into fiction, he says that with theatre he could reach only a limited number of people. "Also, you can do a play for a limited number of shows. Also, I felt a need to 'go on record'. In 2010, when I was doing 'Holy Wives', I knew how women were being sold. I did a lot of research, travelled a lot and wanted a large number of people to know about this. I started off with whatever little I knew about documentaries, and then cinema started emerging." Sharma does not really miss going to a film school. Stressing that he learnt a lot from his friends, the filmmaker adds, "Though I did go in for an editing course when I was in Delhi but I believe when you make films on your own, it is like a film school in itself -- you are doing everything on your own -- from production to direction. Of course, I may one day decide to go to a film school, to absorb from the creative environment it offers." Upbeat that the festival circuit is finally alive after the pandemic, he feels it is very important for independent filmmakers. "Our films do not have a big star cast. The festivals create audiences receptive to alternate storylines," says the director whose film was also screened at the recently concluded Habitat International Film Festival in the national capital. Stressing that state governments can play an important role in pushing independent cinema, the filmmaker cites Kerala's example. "During the recent festival held there, we could see how actively the government machinery was involved in every department, from publicity to transport facility for people. Frankly, lack of distribution is a major roadblock for people like us who do not make mainstream movies." (Sukant Deepak can be contacted at /IANS


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