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Every time I flip through the wedding albums of my parents and even relatives, I wonder why there are so many pictures of the guests eating. They make for such unsightly photographs! Skip forward to a couple of decades, and today, we have gone beyond candid photography, to candid filmmaking in high definition. In India, wedding films started being professionally shot three to four years ago, but it’s only over the last few months that it’s developed into a trend of sorts, with an increasing number of couples wanting to tie the knot under video lenses.
Always in focus
Vishal Punjabi and Zara Chowdhary (both from a Bollywood background) had their wedding made into a short film. The couple then began to create wedding films professionally and turned, literally, into The Wedding Filmers (a photographer friend describes them as the “baap” of this fledgling industry).
Wedding films typically go up to 30-35 minutes and apart from the ceremonies, include bytes from guests, pre-wedding shots and chronicle the chaos that envelopes a household. “The idea,” Punjabi explains, “is to create original cinema for the couple. We want to make the film better than the wedding, and when the couple watches it, we want them to go, ‘Oh my God! That was how the wedding went!’”Anand Rathi, who forms one half of KnotInFocus (the other is Abhinav Sah), credits a few things that led to the rise of the trend. "Contemporary photography has picked up in India, thanks to DSLR cameras getting cheaper and increased wedding budgets. People have grown up watching Karan Johar’s larger-than-life-films and that’s what is sought to be replicated in their own weddings."
These films are professionally made using high-end equipment (including heli-cams for grander locations such as palaces), the latest special effects and original soundtracks as well. Punjabi, who also composes music, emphasises the importance of an original score. He says, “The track Radha from Student of the Year was very popular in 2012, but now, it’s likely to sound dated. When a song is especially composed for you, it remains timeless.”Rathi has similar thoughts on music. "Usually, the songs have a touching backstory," he says. "Think of the sounds in Coke Studio. That’s the feel we give to the music. It’s often a folk song; we weave contemporary sounds into it for the film." To know these backstories and put the couple at ease, these lensmen spend considerable time with them, their family and friends.
The latest in wedding films is a videobooth. The Photo Diary’s founder Monisha Ajgaonkar, who just shot a wedding film for model Pia Trivedi, has set up videobooths at a couple of weddings. “We videotape people in the booth, use the footage in slow motion and add funky music to it. The clients love it!” she explains.
After the wedding, videographers collate bytes and visuals, edit it and show clients a few rough cuts for approval. Finally, in four months, you can expect to receive the CD of the most coveted film of your life.
“Some clients,” Ajgaonkar says, “have a solid idea of what they’re looking for – classy, funky or traditional – some however, tell me, ‘surprise us!’”
What it costs
The Wedding Filmers charge a minimum of Rs 5 lakh a day, and about Rs 12 lakh to Rs 20 lakh for a three-day event, including mehendi and sangeet ceremonies. KnotInFocus averages between Rs 3 lakh to Rs 6 lakh a day. Depending on customisation, it includes DVDs, albums, prints, movie trailers, etc. The Photo Diary charges Rs 1.5 lakh to Rs 2 lakh for a three-day event, including a videobooth on the wedding day. It’s preferable to book them at least 4-6 months in advance.
From HT Brunch, November 17
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