Filmmaking is an arduous process and it takes years of devotion and dedication to master the art. After beginning the journey as filmmakers, many call it quits after a few years of struggle, however, a few individuals with never say die attitude continue and they create a name for themselves in the world of filmmaking.
Chinmoy Barma from Assam is one such individual, who has been climbing the ladder of filmmaking gradually and carving out a niche for himself as a filmmaker- who is in love with the horror genre.
Partha Prawal caught up with the filmmaker whose latest horror movie Ghorpak is all set to creep out the audience soon.
Partha: When did you realise that filmmaking was much more than your hobby?
Chinmoy: I did not, it still is a hobby that I do once or twice in a year. Now people call it the confused state of mind, I call it living my life from every perspective that I can.
I like to explore, starting from myself. When you understand yourself, that’s when you find the meaning of life. I have been doing just that.
A few months back, in an interview, I said, “I am someone who would cook multiple dishes in a single pan in an hour, without worrying about perfection. Because that’s not in our hands, but the efforts are. So, people often have this notion that you cannot follow different dreams at the same time. I differ with that opinion. We just have one life. If I am getting the chance to live the same life in different perspectives, I won’t shy away.”
I started drawing when I was 4-year-old, having written the manuscript of a horror novel when I was 7 – the love for art was there forever. Apart from that, I maintained my academic well as I stood 7th in the HSLC exam back in 2010.
After completing my engineering I worked for a few years.
Now, I run my art blog www.rhapsodicsoulsblog.wordpress.com and also make the films that I had always wanted to see.
I have been working for my other dreams as well.
Partha: What has been your training like?
Chinmoy: Trial and error. I do not have formal training and I am still learning by making films.
I have had made so many embarrassing short films and videos in the past, I have shared everything on YouTube and my social media for people to see.
I won’t take them down. The timeline helps me to gauge the amount of improvement I have made compared to last year. I learn from the team members, from the films I see, from the life that I am experiencing. I consider myself as a storytelling artist. I work to convey to the viewer the exact palpable sense of life I feel that directs me to create the piece.
Partha: Is it harder to get started or to keep going? What was the particular thing that you had to conquer to do either?
Chinmoy: It’s harder to keep going, knowing that you should deliver new things every time, knowing that the expectations are high, knowing that you need more resources and knowledge. Filmmaking is hard. You will have to keep creating new things improving one frame at a time.
Partha: Who has been your biggest inspiration in life?
Chinmoy: It will be difficult for me to name just one and so I won’t.
Every freedom fighter who made supreme sacrifices for our freedom is an inspiration to me. Every artist who gives meaning to people’s lives is an inspiration to me. Every man/woman who dares to dream the highest and works for it is an inspiration to me.
Partha: Tell about your projects so far and how do you conceive your ideas and stories?
Chinmoy: The art form of filmmaking was introduced to me in 2014 when we participated in a spoof making competition and we won. It was love at first sight for me when I saw the audience cheering. It was the satisfaction of conveying the emotions successfully.
Then we made Flip- my first short film when I was in the second year of engineering. It was based on multiple personality disorder. The influence came from my favourite film Fight Club by my favourite director David Fincher.
Then we went on to make Xaathor, 7th Sin- which got official selection in 15-second horror short film festival.
We made Firqa Parasti while I was working in Delhi in just 24 hours and Morome Ringiaai was made in 2019.
Ghorapak will be ready by December 2020.
Presently we are working on Jokhini.
Partha: What attracted you towards the horror genre?
Chinmoy: My Jethi maa, maa used to tell me these stories when I was a kid. My relatives used to make weird noises and throw stones at my house saying the ghost is here to take me if I don’t finish my meal and go to sleep. It worked just fine for them, leaving vivid imaginations of Ghorapak, Jokhini, pisaas etc. on that little head.
I still love to watch thriller and horror films, but as you can see they are so repetitive. I wanted to make a short on the horror genre. The opportunity came when we had to make a horror short film within 15 seconds for an international film festival. We got selected and this boosted my confidence and then Ghorapak happened.
Partha: Special effects/ CGI are important aspects of horror movies. Tell about the special effects you use in your movies?
Chinmoy: Our video editor Upam Das looks after the VFX part and he has done the special effects for Ghorapak as well.
He created the various effects for the films using different software like Cinema 4D, After Effects and 3d Max Software.
Partha: Tell about your team and their inputs during the filmmaking process.
Chinmoy: It has not been a constant one from the beginning. But since Morome Ringiaai Upam Das has been editing our films. There is a good amount of visual understanding when we sit to edit our films. Deepjyoti, Chiranjit has been doing the cinematography.
Partha: What makes a film great for you? Are there certain qualities that make a film better for you?
Chinmoy: For me, if a film compels you to think or the audience feel related to the film, it’s a success. The films should speak to you. It should help you exercise your five senses.
Ask me if I have seen such a film yet. No, I haven’t. And that’s my motivation to keep making films. Keep making mistakes, learn from them and one day, make that one film that I always wanted to see.
Partha: What do you think should be done to create a proper film industry in Assam?
Chinmoy: Prove it to the audience that they can expect good films from the filmmakers.
When I say good films I mean films about us, films that represent us.
Films that have a strong story and has the power to inspire many.
When I say good films I mean films with a global value.
People of Assam value good content. But where is the content?
Several love songs with the same story with alpha male presence- can we call that content anymore?
The day producers start backing the right directors and people of Assam start demanding good content and the filmmakers gather the courage to deliver films which are of the global standard- will be a new day for the Assamese film industry.
Partha: Any particular filmmaker(s) you are inspired by?
Chinmoy: David Fincher is the man. I can see myself in his characters that fulfils one of the criteria I mentioned earlier for a great film. My first short film Flip took inspiration from Fight Club.
Partha: What advice would you give to someone who wanted to have a life creating film?
Chinmoy: Pick up the pen and write the best story of your life that you have experienced. Do your own storyboarding- sketch the whole film out, take your phone camera and start shooting yourself; play all the characters by yourself and then edit the film on your phone. Watch it, did you like it?
If the answer is a no then it is not the film that you should pursue with. However, value the experience you had while making the film.
And if your answer is yes, then go ahead and start observing other films minutely.
Read books on filmmaking and then finally shoot the same film you had started your journey with- but this time with a proper team.
And don’t stop after that until you make the greatest film you always wanted to see.
I cannot advise anyone about the money-making part of filmmaking, as I never made any of my films, artworks for money. I do it for the love of art.
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Partha Prawal (Goswami) is a Guwahati-based journalist who loves to write about entertainment, sports, and social and civic issues among others. He is also a published author.