Nitin Das isn’t your typical film storyteller –– he does not use the camera with the flourish of a master painter, the script for his narration is charmingly naïve, his voice does not have the baritone of a seasoned artiste and his chosen actors belong to a faith that stresses on renunciation rather than materialism.
Yet, when Das put up his eight-minute film on global warming –– he calls it a fable –– on YouTube recently using a Buddhist boy who finds the solution to global warming as his protagonist, no one complained of its shortcomings. Instead, they are raving about the intention as well as the inspired choice of using the spectacular Spiti Valley in Himachal Pradesh as his location.
Das, whose film is available at youtube.com/thenitindas, graduated from the Indian Institute of Management at Lucknow, and was sucked into the corporate world for the first few years of his professional life. Bored, he chose to attend the Digital Film Academy in New York and decided to make films his vocation rather than working with pivot tables in Microsoft’s Excel spreadsheet software.
Now back in New Delhi, the 30-year-old Das set up Filmkaar along with his father Sitesh, to make meaningful films and promote them using several media, including the Web so that “we can spread our message to different corners of the world, free of cost and hope that we can plant the seed of our idea in as many minds as possible.” His other film Formula 69 made in IIT-Delhi, is available for download on amazon.com.
Das typically uses Sony PD 170s to shoot his films, but for the YouTube experiment, he used the humble Handycam.
Just as any independent filmmaker, Das, too, gets funding from well-intentioned third-party donors. For the global warming fable, he was funded by Ecosphere Spiti, a local NGO that focuses on saving the fragile ecosystem in this valley, a region that borders Tibet. The actors, naturally, then are from a local town called Kaza. “There was a minor audition since we had to choose from the several children that had gathered around the camera,” he says.
Because money is hard to come by for indie filmmakers, Das hopes that the recent move by YouTube to protect the intellectual property rights includes “a monetary angle for independent filmmakers. I also hope they have a separate section that focuses on high quality films,” he says.
An idea whose time has come?