Their studio in Cambridge Layout speaks of their passion, is dotted with film memorabilia and it becomes clear almost instantly why the three musketeers, Alan Aranha, Bharat Mirle and Sudhanva Atri of Yogensha Productions, quit mainstream jobs to take up filmmaking and photography. Two of their films, Junction and Banned have been selected for the Berlin International Directors Lounge screening, and winning awards for them is just the start.
“When we made both Junction and Banned, we never imagined that they would get the overwhelming response they did. And when both were picked for the Berlin International Directors Lounge, it gave us the boost and confidence to continue making films and start our company, Yogensha Productions,” Aranha begins, explaining that Atri deals with cinematography, while Mirle and he don the hats of writer, director and producer. Or as Mirle likes to put it, “I’m possibly the most relaxed person in the studio because Sudhan and Alan handle the business development side. Alan is the prankster, and Sudhan, the serious one!”
Named Yogensha after a mythical creature with camera lenses for eyes, according to urban Japanese folklore, the former classmates at Christ University say that it is an extension of themselves, and they unanimously agree to give their audience a voice and ‘have a story to tell, always’.
Fact, fiction and folklore
Their most recent film, Banned, a PSA (Public Service Announcement) that was in turn, a parody born out of frustration, was created on a budget of `500. “Alan and I were discussing the film Freedom Song by Subi Chaturvedi and Paranjoy Guha Thakur which we saw at IIHS. We found redemption when we made fun of the fact that people were banned from expressing their views or opinions. We claim to be a democracy. And in a country like India, we must acknowledge that people have different opinions and the only way forward is by being tolerant,” Atri says, adding that they were able to keep to a low budget by using their own equipment and because the lead actor, Mario Jerome, was quite happy to work for free. “We wanted to offer the audience a second option and choose the pro-active path of contributing to the system. Hopefully, we can help bring about the change that they would like to see,” Atri offers.
Junction, they say, was conceived over a heated discussion and plentiful beer. Aranha first got the idea when he was at a traffic signal in Mumbai. He came back to Bangalore and after arguments, brain storming and table-thumping, Junction took shape. The film is a poignant, yet telling vignette of everyday Indian urban life – a brief interlude between a young flower seller and the occupant of a chauffeur-driven car in under 105 seconds.
Pleased yet modest about their accolades so far, the trio tells us that they chose short films to begin with because they are relatively easier to make. But, a full-length documentary called Lapses in Time, is in the making. “Lapses in Time examines the relationship between people and history. It follows a photographer who employs a dated technical process as he attempts to photograph Hampi – an ancient, historically important city, that is being forcibly modernised,” Aranha explains as Atri adds that documentaries on sustainable energy, reality TV and pop culture and a feature length fiction film are also in the pipeline.
—Aakanksha Devi and Avinash Kumai