Whistling Woods promotes art of documentary film-making

MUMBAI: Whistling Woods International held a thematic session titled ‘I & Eye’ as a prelude to its new documentary course. The programme was a culmination of roadshows that commenced on 5 August in Chennai, followed by sessions on documentaries at Delhi and Kolkata.

Held on the campus of Whistling Woods International, prominent names in documentary filmmaking like Bishakha Dutta, Paromita Vora, Anil Zankar and Samar Khan were present. The session was moderated by Ravi Gupta – the Dean of WWI and CEO of Mukta Arts.

This grand session began with the unveiling of the two documentary style videos that will act as an addendum to the ‘Songs of Protest’ album – the work of Susmit Sen (Founder & Lead Guitarist, Indian Ocean) and Sumangala Damodaran (granddaughter of former communist leader and Kerala chief minister EMS Namboodiripad). The Songs of Protest album consists of 9 songs sung in various Indian languages and has been collated from the pre independence era. Created by the students of Whistling Woods (Rahul Badwelkar, Raghu Naik, Kavya Sharma, Abhiraj Rawale and Shara Sethna), the documentary style videos will lend to an online viral campaign that hopes to inspire people to get up and ‘act’. One of the 2 videos created, has been inspired by Anna Hazare and is based on corruption and the collective conscience of a society. The other video focuses on the lack of drinking water in the country. Keeping in sync with the current issues, these songs and supporting videos invoke the spirit of patriotism and hark back to the pre-independence days.

Susmit Sen said, “The glow of our independence, 64 years back has been gradually relegated to the back of our memories. Beneath the layers of amnesia, can be found a legacy from the years when people were alive enough to want to live and breathe free. We wanted people to re- live those days, re- breathe them. And the students have interpreted it in a unique way.” Kavya Sharma, a Cinematography students at Whistling Wood Student and an enthusiastic Rock-climber when off campus feels”Through the songs of protest not only did we become aware, we were enlightened; it gave us something definite to work on, something solid.”

The unveiling was followed by the Big Debate underlining the dilemma that beguiles documentary filmmakers: How Real is Real? The panelists for this debate were Paromita Vora, filmmaker, writer, teacher and curator, working with fiction & non-fiction, Bishakha Dutta, Indian journalist and film-maker, best known for her work documenting the role of women in different aspects of Indian society and Samar Khan, filmmaker, head-TV division-Red Chillies.

The debate began with a loaded discussion on the art of documentary film making, and how it mirrors life. Bishakha Dutta said, “Documentary films are life as it is, that is, life filmed surreptitiously. They present montages of current and archival times, explore and are composed on various event and subjects.”

Paromita added, “This is an art of exploration. You state stories buried deep down in memories and vocalizes the voiceless. An audience therefore finds it to be a more credible source of information.” The debate unearthed the various layers of a documentary film. The session gave the students a chance to understand what holds true and how to create the truth.

Whistling Woods International chairman Subhash Ghai said, “We at Whistling woods International through ‘I&EYE’ are widening the scope of documentary film-making in India and creating more awareness amongst the masses. These seminars across the city were with a purpose; to give students an overview on the industry prospect. I feel proud to know that the videos shot by WWI students for two songs from the ‘Songs of Protest’ album, have been unveiled today. It will hopefully inspire other students who want to specialize in the art form to draw inspiration from reality whilst adopting the visual elements and poetic aesthetics of cinematic storytelling without loosing out on their unique point of view.”

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