News & Information From Northeast India

Indie filmmakers weigh on preferring rookie actors at GIFF open forum

A panel of filmmakers present at the third edition of the Guwahati International Film Festival (GIFF) on November 5 shared interesting stories of how they started their filmmaking careers during an open forum discussion.

National award winning filmmakers Praveen Morchhale, Dominic Sangma and script writer and director Ranjan Ghosh, besides Arjun Dutta from Kolkata attended the open forum discussion. Writer and director Bhaskar Hazarika moderated the discussion.

Apart from sharing their stories, the panel also discussed on casting non-trained actors in their films.

Praveen Morchhale said that he always prefers to cast untrained actors in his films. Taking part in the open forum at the 3rd Guwahati International Film Festival on Tuesday, the 51-year-old filmmaker from Madhya Pradesh said that it is easier to work with untrained actors.

“Trained actors ask a lot of questions. So, I prefer to work with non-trained actors which make my life much easier. I don’t do anything. I don’t even share the scripts with them and do the rehearsals. I just make them what they are actually. Thus they come out real on the screen,” Morchhale said.

Morchhale’s second film ‘Walking with the Wind’ had won three National Awards – Best Film (Ladakhi language), Best Sound Design and Best Re-Recording in 2018. It has also won the best film award in Rome. The film has also won UNESCO Gandhi Medal. The film also had non-professional actors playing their roles in their native language in a way which was appreciated by everyone.

“I always try to cast real people…say a real blind would play the blind person…driver is a real driver. I just ask them to start doing whatever they are. And I get some great results. I am not saying actors are not good. They too are wonderful but for me I have found my own way of doing things,” Morchhale added.

His first film ‘Barefoot to Goa’ in 2015 was completed with crowd funding. Morchhale’s third film, ‘Widow of Silence’ is about a Kashmiri woman, Aasiya, whose husband gets picked up by the security forces.

Another national award winning filmmaker Dominic Sangma from Meghalaya has a similar experience of casting his father – 90-year-old Philip Sangma in the main role of Ma.Ama.

“I think it work both ways. Good actors will perform good which will definitely help the film. But for me as a filmmaker when I was making Ma•Ama I had no choice. There is no Garo actor to act in my film and so I cast my dad in the main role in my film. And he won the best actor and also got nominations at the Shanghai International Film Festival,” said Dominic.

Ma•Ama tells the story of the 90-year-old protagonist who has lived every day of the past 30 years waiting to be reunited with his dead wife, Anna.

Recalling one shot during the shooting with his father, Dominic said that there are certain moments which can’t be re-taken with the same intensity.

“There was a scene in the film where my father had to do a video chat which he has never done in his life before. So, my sister, who was in Turin, will do the video call. I sent her the script and asked her that she needed to guide my father in the video call. When everything was ready and my dad came in for the shot and the moment…the smile he had at that time was priceless. It came to him spontaneously after seeing my sister live talking to him through the video which he never experienced in his life. I think I will never be able to recreate that reaction again,” he said.

Writer and director Bhaskar Hazarika whose ‘Aamis’ was screened at the GIFF said that he also cast non-trained actors in his film but they were given an extensive workshop for 10 days.

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