While the lockdown curtailed many activities, it couldn’t halt creativity. Imagination always finds an outlet even in dire circumstances, and Covid-19 is no such exception. Many filmmakers have used this time wisely and have come up with engaging concepts in limited means.
Delhi-based Filmmaker Vijay Raghavan made Caged, a short film that captures the entrapment of a child in a setting of domestic violence.
In a conversation with The Morning Standard, Raghavan admits that he had his doubts about shooting during the Covid-19 outbreak like the rest of the film world. “But when I assessed the conditions I would need for the shoot, I found it manageable and worth the effort. I took all the necessary precautions needed during the shoot.
My script demanded minimal support staff (just me and my wife) that allowed me to work flexibly. Moreover, the availability and coordination of the cast was not a big challenge as they were my neighbours. All the shooting was done indoors,” he says.
Raghavan further delves into how he used this period to his advantage. “I had to rely heavily on whatever limited resources were available. I made a DIY makeshift light softbox and stand using cardboard boxes and PVC pipes, a trolley bag for dolly shots, and so on. My actor friends at a theatre group helped me record the voices remotely, which was a huge help. It was the coming together of the right minds that made the film happen,” says Raghavan who is in the process of working on his next fictional film on gender pay gap, using the similar settings.
It is observed that documentaries highlighting social issues are on a rise now. Video Volunteers, a community media organisation whose mission is to enable people from marginalised backgrounds, shot as many as 30 videos on such themes, especially bringing the marginalised voices to the forefront.
Founder Jessica Mayberry says, “We looked at the talk show format documenting experiences such as migrants returning back from his villages, economic crisis in the villages across India, suicides, martial rapes, senior citizens difficulties’ among others, in the pandemic.
We could shoot just 10 per cent of what we created last year, but we came up with new innovations.”
Video Volunteers’ Training Director, Manish Kumar, elaborated further.
“For people who were not able to shoot on ground, they used audio formats to bring out the narratives. We just made shoot plans as to what to shoot and how to shoot, depending upon the story, and edited it in the studio.” The film directed by Falguni Thakore with Divya Dutta in the lead, was shot indoors with minimal logistical requirements. Actor Annup Sonii, who played the Relationship Manager in the eponymous film, talks about the central theme.
“This hard hitting tale deals with the problem of domestic abuse which people are aware of but there is a taboo and so people don’t want to talk about it. The way the issue has been portrayed and has been raised in the film, is very impactful.” Shooting the film in the lockdown, makes it even more memorable for Sonii. “The film was written keeping lockdown in mind. So, we made sure to shoot with very minimal sets, and the crew taking all the precautionary measures. Everything was so well planned.”