Filmmakers like to believe we live in a digital age. It is an age where reality barges in to meet us in our day-to-day lives through youtube, reality television shows, breaking news reports and sting operations on various channels .
Dibakar Banerjee, who has made successful commercial films like Khosla ka Ghosla (2006) and Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye! (2008), claims that we are in transition to become a part of the digital generation. Which is why he has shot his film, Love, Sex Aur Dhoka (LSD), set to release early this year, entirely in digital format.
Banerjee forewarns filmgoers that his film will be “hyper, real and shocking”. “The digital medium has become the new way forward,” he says. “It has gradually become the bedrock of how we communicate today.” LSD is told in three interconnected stories, which deal with each of its motifs: love, sex and betrayal.
The story of LSD (..Dhoka), says Banerjee, stays true to the digital realm. “I have filmed the stories in a highly snoopy and voyeuristic manner. Each part of the story is shot differently. I have filmed one entire sequence through a fixed security camera — you can see the tape counter below the screen — I have filmed another part as a MMS and another as a sting operation.”
He says he has used pocket cameras smaller than a lipstick to give authenticity to the visuals. There’s a scene, he says, in which the camera is dropped from a bridge into water 50 feet below and it is not done in slow motion. There is another scene where the camera is put in underwear and another in a handbag.
Banerjee goes on to claim that even if he had a Rs 100 crore budget and 35 mm film, he still wouldn’t be able to make LSD differently. “The digital aspect of the filming is an intrinsic part of it. The subject of reality is meshed in the plot and literally demands every bit of it,” he says. “However, within ten minutes,” he assures, “the digital aspect of the film will take a backseat.”
Banerjee who is among the new breed of innovative Indian filmmakers today, rubbishes the claim that digital filmmaking is just a fad. There are others in the industry who feel the medium will be a major influence on the future of Indian filmmaking, as in the world.
Ranjit Thakur, CEO of Scrabble Entertainment, believes that digital filmmaking is going to make a huge impact in days to come. “Digital filmmaking is a highly flexible and cost-effective medium to make films. It cuts through excess usage of film and equipment and one can even work on the post-production while still making the film,” he says.
Thakur has recently digitised 200 multiplex screens across the country before the release of James Cameron’s Avatar, and also installed digital cinema hardware projectors in multiplexes and circulated digital prints. “The medium also helps budding filmmakers to explore 3D content. At present, we are also in conversation with three big production houses, which I can’t name now, and are in the process to make 3D action and horror movies by 2011.”
Filmmaker Pankaj Advani made the cult-classic Urf Professor (2001), which was India’s first digital feature film. It never got a mainstream release but he says the trend of digital filmmaking is here to stay. There are also many effective cameras available in the market now than before and a lot of big budget films too are going digital to add special effects. “For me, the best thing about digital filmmaking is that it was the cheapest way to make a film. But the most important thing about it is that it made the entire process a lot more personal. It made me much bolder. I could achieve what I wanted to and I made my film from the heart,” he says.
Advani made critically acclaimed Sankat City (2009) also in digital format. “Since it’s such an inexpensive medium, it’s literally like shooting a film into your laptop. One can easily manage the shooting, post-production and exhibition of the film on your own. It gives you confidence, even if a big producer won’t touch your film, you can still go ahead with it and do exactly what you want to do. Besides, you can turn the disadvantages of the visual to your advantage.”
Advani, like Banerjee, agrees that it is important for the film content to match its medium. There are some films that fare much better in digital and there are some that aren’t meant to be. After all, everything has to be content driven.