Film Education

Interview with Sumit Kilam
May 6, 2010, 6:16 pm
Filed under: Professional Talk | Tags: , , ,

“Leaving Home – The Life and Music of Indian Ocean”

You can watch a trailer of the film on this link

For more information on the band and the film follow them on Facebook

1. The charm of documentary for me is in the fact that’s its ‘reality’. Capturing those moments of ‘life living itself out’ is special and I did experience some such moments in your film like when Indrajit Dutta, a former band member comes back to visit the band and plans to play for 10 ten minutes but his art arrests him there for 2 hours and he plays some lovely riffs. Can you share with us any such special moments that come to your mind that you feel could never be planned but they just happened and are at the core to the unfolding of the film.

Absolutely, it’s one of those things that just happen and you haven’t planned it. Well we did have a couple of more documentary moments:  when Asheem and Amit start jamming in the rehearsal room right after Bandeh and  one is egging the other one on. If you look at Desert Rain and that moment when Rahul and Amit start  an improvisation, that was purely unplanned and the camera person was very very alert to catch it. These moments more than anything else make the audience aware about the chemistry between the band members.

2. The music of the Indian Ocean band was an integral part of the documentary very rightly so, and experiencing some of the spontaneous music practice sessions were personally quite enjoyable. How did you’ll go about the process. What was the shooting ratio of the film.

The idea behind capturing the band was to capture the essence of the band. And it had to happen in their personal space, that room in Karol Bagh, which as the band puts it is their energy centre.

One thing we were sure of was to make the shoot and edit of the film as gimmick-free as possible.  We just wanted to go in there, enjoy what they were doing and be a part of their music making process. The music in the film has been divided into three major spaces: The live concert which has the band the way they would be in a full fledged audience concert. The Karol Bagh concert which was more like a private/personal kind of a thing and the third was the rehearsal space where you see the guys creating the music. The venues may have changed but the treatment/style of presentation of music in the three places has been the same in the film—that is to show the chemistry of the band and the energy that is then projected in the music. So the edit focused on catching the cues one man gives the other, a raised eyebrow, a twitch of the lips; or simply just letting the audience look at a musician immersed in his music (Susmit)

3. Would I be right in saying that the film was made on the editing table to a large extent. Was the film conceived differently initially and the material took its own form in the process. Your first cut was app 4 hours long and finally you arrived at an app 2 hours final cut. Being involved in the editing yourself did you feel anything was compromised because of the length or it got more refined. The film was absorbing but at the same time I personally felt the length, maybe because of the lack of visual stimulation in repeated setups.

Well as far as length goes, I would say that probably we have been preconditioned to think that a 2 hour long docu is something which is hard to digest. It’s more acceptable if it’s like 90 minutes. But if you look at the film it cant be less than the duration it currently is, though it could easily be longer and believe me there are so many things that we wanted to include in the film which didn’t make it to the final cut. Editing this film was a huge exercise: a lot of the story evolved on the editing table. This exercise was undertaken mainly by three people (Nimish, Shriya and myself) with Jaideep leading the way. And I remember the discussions we used to have about how we should go about the edit. Infact when we did the first cut of the concert we were not happy with what had come out, we knew something was missing but what was it, we were not sure. Then I said look at their chemistry and the cues one band member is giving the other. The past 15 years that I have been listening to them and watching them perform that’s the thing I have loved the most. They communicate with their music. That’s what was internalized by the editor (Nimish) and when we cut the music with that thought, it was a totally different experience.

We would also debate what should be our stance as regards the narrative. We came to the conclusion that the story should be in a linear form and it has to be their journey. But then even in that journey there are a lot of things that should be included so who are we making the film for. So we came to this conclusion that we are making this film for a person who is not an Indian Ocean fan. The first cut was 4 hours long because as Indian Ocean fans it was hard for us to just throw out things, but then when we kept looking at the whole thing with the objective that this film is for a non-IO fan, it became easier for us to throw out things.

4. You have made history of sorts by being one of the few rare documentaries  having a theatrical release for your independent documentary film. In India Financing for independent films is a challenge and how did it work in the case of this film.

It’s quite unfortunate to see the state of  art in the country. And the reason is that everyone wants to do Bollywood or Bollywoodise everything around. It was a huge challenge to come out with this film for us. And all credit goes to Ramki and Jaideep for showing tremendous belief in this project. Cartwheel is an ad agency owned by Ramki which has an entertainment division called Cartwheel Features; and the idea behind this entertainment division is to do projects which won’t/can’t get made because of the so called “industry standards”. And it was like one arm of the company helping and supporting the other arm. The funds for the project came from the work that our advertising division was doing. So that’s how we got this film financed thanks to the other division (ad agency) of the same company.

5.The film does not travel too much or have expensive setups but has been in the making for some time now. What was the budget for the film and being an Executive Producer what was your key role and what were the challenges you faced to make this film and how has the journey been till now.

We started out with the idea of making a 12-15 lakh rupee small-budget film but today it’s crossed that budget and crossed it by quite a margin. We started  work on this project in May 2006 and it was ready by December 2007, and in the same period we had finished another feature film called Hulla. Leaving Home has released in April 2010 so its taken four years for this film to come out. It was quite tough to shoot this film in the hot Delhi-summer . But I think it’s the Delhi food which compensated for the shoot. Such lovely food.

We had a 45-day shoot schedule mainly in Delhi and some parts were shot in Simla. It was great team effort during the shoot between all the crew members which saw a product like this come out. Hats off to the cinematographer (Gargey Trivedi) and the sound designer (Vivek Sachidanand) for doing a splendid job in that weather. As the executive producer my work involved a lot of co-ordinating stuff with the exhibitors, making sure that the project is not going way over budget, pitching with marketing ideas, striking media partnerships with the channels, websites, magazines. Looking back it’s been a great journey, a great on how one can pull off small films and get them a theatrical release. And Jaideep led the way right through showing tremendous passion and determination to get this film released on the big screen.

The last leg, which was the last 20 days before the release, was quite interesting. Ranjan Singh who headed the marketing for Leaving Home, and his team came in and just took the film to a different platform with their great marketing and PR skills.

6. Your documentary film tells an inspiring story, it is about the triumph of these individuals who succeed as sincere artists in this world where money is worshiped and high salaries lure people. Here are a bunch of people who followed their soul (even the way the band functions without a leader is great). Since you do not appear in the film in spite of being Amit’s (band member) brother what would you like to say about the film and what is your take about the role of art/artist in society.

Oh I am so happy I am not in the film but am a part of the film. I think its my small contribution towards this band that I have loved so much for the past 15 years. I have grown up on their music and to be able to be a  part of the first such kind of a film being made on them was a dream come true for me.


17 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Loved the movie. Liked the choice of questions and enjoyed reading the responses to them. Sumit your expertise and effort to promote the film was commendable. Congratulations and God bless!
Oorvazi I am glad you discussed the making of this film on your blog. Loads of love and best wishes.

Comment by Jai Dehnugara

Dear Jaila!
Its a pleasure to discuss the film with Sumit and there is so much love that was put into making it. The story had to be told.
I am so happy that you enjoyed the interview.
Lots of love

Comment by oorvazi

good insights into the process of documentary-making. the questions as usual are precise and pointed. the blog has and will offer lots to the student of films and film-making.

Comment by hemant m

Thanks as usual for your genuine and studied feedback and support for my blog, appreciate it.

Comment by oorvazi

The common thread is Art, Music & film a strong triad a means to the evolution of the soul to reach its final goal of Self- Realization, continue the journey you are on the right path.


Comment by oorvazi

Thanks so much for taking the time out to read my blog! Deeply appreciate it

Comment by oorvazi

wonderful interview! Didn’t watch d movie but I’m pretty sure it would be a treat to watch. Nice trailer. Congrats to the cast, crew and the band of Indian Ocean !!!

Comment by sowrik

Great, thanks for reading the interview and good its useful. Do watch the film too in the near future.

Comment by oorvazi

Great interview Ma’am. Never read a so comprehensive interview before, its full of emotions..I mean the real feeling can be felt in each line!

Comment by Agastya Kapoor

Thats a nice observation I’ll tell Sumit.

Comment by oorvazi

i think sumit has spoken from the heart in this interview.his passion for cinema reflects in this chat.he is another Roonie screewwala in making.he is blend of creativity and commercial ascpect of filmaking.
Good Show.

Comment by Asad

Thanks Asad!
Glad you enjoyed the interview…i am sure Sumit will be happy to hear your feedback.

Comment by oorvazifilmeducation

It gives us a very satisfying feeling to see Sumit having arrived on the media scene by virtue of his dedication, efforts & commitment. His self-learning, his entrepreneurial style of decision making & intense level of commitment is something that can inspire one & all. We love you Sumit. God bless you….. IK & IK

Comment by inder krishen

Thanks Inder!
Yes Sumit you rock

Comment by oorvazi

Generally, the producer is a person who everyone one cribs about, but not so in this case. Like the honesty in the documentary, the honesty in the interview also came out.

Comment by Rasik

Yes Producers can be very important people and play a important role in the creative process also. If you have a Producer who is concerned and respects the film it can make a big difference to the film.

Comment by oorvazi

When is your next filmi entrepreneurial venture taking off? Remember, you have graduated in entrepreneurship…

Comment by IK Kilam

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