The concept of Asmad (Me) is intriguing. The state of our mind be it happiness, sadness or anything for that matter is embroiled in ‘me’. The film Asmad questions this, says director Prabhjit Dhamija. Asmad is visual treat and Prabhjit saw to it that everything was perfect and he achieved what he desired. He has treated Asmad as a full length feature film. In this interview, Prabhjit tells us about the film and how it shaped from a simple concept to a visually stunning movie.
In conversation with Prabhjit Dhamija…
Your film has a concept about ‘Me’ which is interesting. How did you arrive at this story?
The story came much later. First the idea of what I wanted to convey took shape. The impression of suffering is mostly our imagination. It is what we carry in our head and it basically does not exist in real. This concept got selected in NFDC director’s lab. There my mentor Udhyayan Prasad insisted that we weave a story around this concept. That is how this film happened.
Tell us about your journey into films?
By profession I am an ad film maker. Television commercial is my thing actually. I never really ventured into film making back then. Asmad is my first film. Though Asmad is a short film, we have made it just like a feature film. This is because I wanted it that way and Asmad has to be experienced on big screen. I did not want people to watch this film on mobile and that is why I delayed its release as well. This film was not made for mobile, but we have no option now.
What were you looking to convey with this movie?
Centrally it is the idea that we carry within ourselves and the identity of me. We amplify the effect of a lot of situations that are happening, in our head. It need not be so. The circumstances that we face have an effect in our life, but not to the extent that we make of it.
The roadblocks you faced, when you made your film?
Initial challenge was to get a team that gets in sync with the shooting. The film was shot with first timers. It was shot in 30 days and we could not get professionals as they would not have so much time for a short film. So we had to get in people who had to give out impeccable result. Another challenge was the weather. The climatic conditions were never favourable. It rained and at times the shooting got stalled.
We see that your short film is on par with a feature film. How did you envision the same?
We did all the prep work perfectly. Short film was not on my mind actually. I visualized this as a feature film. There was story board for each and every scene. Very rarely do you get a complete story board for a short film. This makes a big difference.
Have you drawn inspiration from real people for the characterizations in the film?
Yes I have. The character of the old man is inspired by a friend of mine. None of the actors in this film are trained. I choose those people who are close to these characters. While writing I have infused elements which are the real characteristics of these actors. This was done so that they would not have to act much and could be their normal selves.
Tell us about your lead cast and technical team?
Like I told you earlier most of them are not professional actors. The DOP is from FTII, he was student then. The two kids are from Himachal, the girl and the old man is from Chandigarh. The person who played the role of the father is a theatre actor. Vaidji is a popular actor as well. Rajeev Mudgal did the coloring. Ashish Pandya worked on the sound designing. He is a well-known documentary sound designer.
Your film’s music makes a huge impact. Tell us more about it?
Music was given by Jerry Silvester, who has worked as a sound engineer for A R Rahman. There are 11 sound tracks in this film. He liked the film so much and it was his first independent film. We have a complete sound track of the film because of him. It was not picked from anywhere. Everything was created specifically for the mood of the film.
Any unforgettable or cherished memory associated with this film?
It has been a long time now. It is difficult to recall. Nothing in particular I must say.
Tell us about your future projects?
Recently I have worked on a Hollywood project whose working title is ‘36 hours’. It is an ambitious project in terms of star cast. We are looking at Denzil Washington and many others. It’s in waiting and the script of the film is ready. Second film on which I am working is ‘Life Life Life’. It is a Hindi film and its slice of life genre. Then there is a film titled Katputli which is complete. This is a full length feature film.
Which film-maker has been a strong influence on you and your style of film making?
I do not follow any. Frankly I do not watch many films. Very recently I have watched a couple of films. Honestly I have not seen any filmmaker who makes the kind of films that I would love to make.
Tell us your opinion about Fillum and how it will help the upcoming filmmakers?
It depends on how you promote a short film. We make films and that is what we can do. It is you who has to promote it and make it known to the audience. If this happens then surely short film makers will seek such platforms.