Making of film 'Andaman' is a story of grit and perseverance of its two makers
Director Smita Singh and writer/actor Anand Raaj completed the film despite pandemic and many other difficulties. When they faced problems in releasing it, they came up with a unique idea
Their story is about never giving up. In fact the story of the making of 'Andaman' in itself is a good story idea for a film! it seems easy to say so, now that the film is out there and is being appreciated by audiences and critics alike. But while talking to its director Smita Singh and writer/producer/actor Anand Raaj, one can imagine the various junctures in the process of the making of 'Andaman' when both of them could have easily given up-- in fact giving up looked like the most practical idea at that time. But these two did not. And the result is a beautiful film about the recent tough times of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"When we started and finalised the cast, every one of us caught the coronavirus infection. So, naturally, we had to postpone the shooting. And the situation changed completely when we were back. We again had to start from the scratch," recalls Smita, the young and chirpy director of the film who has been in the field of public relation but had always dreamt of directing a film.
Arranging for funds was also not easy. But they did not give up. Particularly Anand had such a strong confidence in the script, that he just couldn't give up on it. "There were times when we had strong difference of opinion on the set, we had fund crunch, we did not know whether we would be able to sustain for another day, yet we just carried on," said the more poised and calm Anand.
So, how come without any qualification or previous experience, both of you decided to make the film?
Without fumbling, Anand replied, "we had been in this field for many years, we have seen, have been part of the process, we have seen the people at work, we have and have been reading...I have acted, written stories...so we had to start from somewhere. It was not as if we did not know anything and we were in an alien field. It was just that we ourselves had not done it right from the scratch. Then we decided to do it. We had faith in our story, ourselves...and that kept us going.."
Smita added, "There were times we had heated discussion about the story and scenes, we always went to Anand for his feedback.. I sat on the monitor, and looked at the scene, not as a director but as a viewer because only then I could have executed the story well..."
There were some senior actors, some young and upcoming ones, who supported them in their journey. Senior and versatile actors like Sanjay Mishra and Rajesh Tailang kept up their spirits and supported their film right till the end. Shooting amid off-and-on-lockdown on one hand and the raging pandemic on the other was not easy; it was in fact like walking on a razor's edge, but these two did not give up.
When the film was completed, another challenge raised its head; who will buy the film which was done by newcomers and showcased newcomers only barring just two senior actors?
They tried to release it in a traditional way, but faced problems. Finally they, particularly Anand came up with a unique idea- to release it on an independent online platform where audiences could see it and share it with others; they could benefit by sharing the film and become kind of 'brand ambassador' of the film!
The unique release of the film not only worked, but also made it truly a film which is "by the people, of the people and for the people".
But has it worked financially?
Smita said smilingly, "well, if you mean that we have earned profits, no. But we have recovered our cost, we may earn profit too if our audiences keep it sharing. It is like a mutual thing- the viewers will benefit by passing it on and we will also benefit plus you get to see a good film, after all!"
Smita is excited by the feedback she has received, "the critics have appreciated our efforts, they have praised the film, the viewers have actually told us that they have witnessed what the film is talking about, particularly the IAS aspirants have really appreciated our film."
Any negative thing which they have witnessed and has haunted them ever since?
To this, Anand replies, " Well, when you start something as difficult as making a film completely on your conviction and confidence, hardships are bound to stand in your way. But one thing that really pinches is the way people start judging you right from the beginning...without seeing your work or your caliber...but I feel that is also natural...but well, it remains with you.."
True that. But now they have started on the path of filmmaking. That too successfully; they have pioneered a unique way of showcasing films, which has actually opened doors for other filmmakers too to launch their films in the same manner. They are now working on a new project. Another story by Anand. Hope this time, they face lesser problems, bigger success.
Such resolution and perseverance is really required in today's tough times, at times just to survive. The story of making this film goes just beyond the world of films. It motivates in everyday struggle too. More power to these new filmmakers!
You can watch the film at www.opentheatre.in