Breakfast with Angh
How would you introduce your film to somebody who hasn’t seen it?
Angh is a story from the most rural parts of the North-East of India. The film takes place in 1963 and follows a father and a son who remain the last people to be converted to the new religion, “Christianity”. It is a gritty story about the characters holding on to their dying culture and identity as the pressures of the new world dawn upon them.
Your film deals with identity and the disappearance of a world. What is it that draws you to such topics?
The fact that a culture so primitive and unique could exist just a few decades ago blew my mind. It was for another project when I went to the India-Burma borders. Once I landed in the place, it felt like I had been transported to a place where the past and the present existed at the same time. One way it seemed tragic that the older people with tattooed faces looked disoriented or uncomfortable in their western clothes. But once you speak to them, they seem to be acceptant of the present. What drew me to the topic was how their entire identity and culture was replaced with something that was completely foreign to them.
Angh, I believe, was shot in 16 mm. Can you explain this choice?
The decision to shoot the film on 16mm came in the very first conversation with my DOP. We both felt that the gritty raw image that the 16mm film provided would capture the story well and tell it in the most authentic of ways. And with the timeline of the film, we had to visually tell the story with a sense of nostalgia. So 16mm was the perfect medium for the story.
What was the hardest part for you while making Angh and why?
There were a number of challenges while making the film. The unpredictable weather, working with non-actors, fighting a forest fire etc. But the biggest challenge was having a very diverse cast and crew members and getting everyone to work together and make the “same film”. Most of the crew had little to no idea about the story we were trying to tell. It was alien and foreign to them. So getting everyone aligned and making them understand the core reason why we were making this film was quite a task.
What do you think the future holds for short films?
Short films have now become the window to discovering new filmmakers. With different film festivals around the world and also big digital platforms, audiences have also learned to watch and enjoy short films. For filmmakers, it is a great way to test and hone your skills. With the help of larger audiences and exposure of great and unique short films from around the world, I think it is only uphill from here on.
If we were to go back into lockdown, what cultural delights would you recommend to alleviate our boredom?
During the lockdown, I had the pleasure of watching a lot of international films. Foreign films are always a little bit of a challenge to watch for everyone. But it’s amazing how one gets to learn so much about culture, language and history by simply watching foreign films. I now completely feel that people need to give foreign films a chance, because not only are they entertaining and good, but they are a window to an entire world.