Mumbai classics such as Bicycle Thieves and Raja Harishchandra were screened yesterday at Bandra’s Bombay Art Society. But what stole the show was what the event’s organiser, the Enlighten Film Society, had on offer in a small conference room opposite the main auditorium.
The room is where Enlighten’s founder, Pranav Ashar, opened India’s first open-to-public Virtual Reality (VR) centre. Audiences were able to experience a slice of virtual reality here via four short films of about three minutes each.
For Ashar, the idea came about when he visited the Nalanda ruins in Bihar in August. “Facebook and Google were exploring the virtual reality space,” says Ashar. “So Virtual Reality (VR) was on my mind anyway. At Nalanda, I was intrigued by the storytelling and articulation of my tourist guide. That’s when I thought of capturing the convergence of myths and facts about Indian monuments through the storytelling style unique to our local guides, and shooting and presenting it all in the VR format.”
The Enlighten team zeroed in on 70 tourist spots of historical and mythological importance, shooting with a 360-degree camera to produce a series called Unnamed Guides. Each three-minute film, one from each location, is juxtaposed with the voice of a guide narrating a popular myth or legend.
Ashar’s team is also producing other original Indian virtual reality content - a movie on yoga, one on DNA sequencing, and a children’s film set in a classroom where every child’s dream becomes reality the next day.
Enlighten has invested in six virtual reality gear sets, comprising VR glasses, earphones and smartphones.
The centre will continue to showcase both international and locally produced content every weekend.
On Sunday, with the virtual glasses strapped on and earphone plugged in, audience members were getting used to the 360-degree experience. They rotated their chairs, often dragging them by a foot or so, to better enjoy the ‘view’ on their VR sets.
WHAT: Short films experienced in a Virtual Reality format, by Enlighten Film Society
WHERE: Bombay Art Society, opposed Rang Sharda, Bandra Reclamation, Bandra West