Mumbai International Film Festival (MIFF) 30 January
Speaking at the Press Conference at MIFF 2020 in Peddar Road in South Mumbai, short films and documentary filmmakers Choodie Shivaram (At the Altar of India’s Freedom: INA Veterans of Malaysia), Dylan Mohan Gray (From Durban to Tomorrow) and Jyoti Kapur Das (Plus Minus) echoed on the single most important requisite of showcasing their documentary films that should be true to the recorded of the historical facts and the archived material in particular.
The trio stressed on single common agenda that these films should be made without distorting the true essence and more importantly without infusing any fictituous character, as is currently rampant in several of the so-called docu-dramas which escape with simply putting forth ‘based on true events, or even as – inspired by true events.
Choodie Shivaram’s 29 minute documentary – At The Altar Of India’s Freedom: INA Veterans Of Malaysia showcases not just men but young women too who joined the Indian National Army (INA) to fight for India’s independence in 1942-44, a fight for their motherland they had never seen.
“Many Indians in Malaysia, some of them the second generation of Indians, not just men, but young women also had joined the INA. These veterans, some of them in their nineties recall their experiences of their INA days of training and patrolling in Imphal,” Choodie Shivaram revealed, adding that the documentary is produced by Indian High Commission in Malaysia.
“There are some makers of period films who distort the very moot point by adding twisted truth which is pure deception. Some of these ‘Based on True Story’ film also introduce characters that did not exist during that time rather than portraying the actual documented facts. For my film, we went and talked to the veterans who were actually a part of the INA. The film is about Netaji through the eyes of these plain, simple and forthcoming people who are willing to die for the nation,” said Choodie Shivaram.
Dylan Mohan Gray’s film From Durban to Tomorrow is a documentary featuring 5 formidable voices from 5 different countries talking about their journeys in their fight for human rights in health while the film stresses on the point aimed at governments to chart out health-driven policies.
“I hope that there is international coalition formed to solve the basic health issues of drug users, sex workers and HIV+ people rather than framing socialistic policies. My film covers the affected people in Guinea, Hungary, Spain, South Africa and India,” said Dylan Mohan Gray emphasizing that his film focuses on the future of global health and human rights. This was agreed by the other documentary filmmakers.
“Unfortunately most of the documentary filmmakers cherry pick from the real issues and ‘chisel’ the facts in the story. It is important to make a case which makes changes in people’s thinking. My film is straight forward and I just hope that the media as well as people would respond strongly,” adds Dylan.
Jyoti Kapur Das is the director of the short film Plus Minus. She is an FTII editing alumna and has assisted several known Bollywood film directors. Her film is a fictional take on the quibbling lady whose seat is opposite to a young Army man on a train journey. The grumbling lady’s thinking towards her mother-in-law is changed from thinking negatively to a positive attitude during the course of her interaction with the recently engaged young jawaan.
Speaking about her filmmaking experiences Jyoti Kapur Das said, “While I was working on the biographical film – Milkha Singh, we infused moments of nationalism towards the end. Who would want to see their national hero be shown in a losing race? Such films have to be taken at their face value. But as pointed out by Choodie Shivram just recently there were films which twisted the truth, though claiming to be a film based on true events. Now where is the filmmaker’s conscience?”