The Journey of Making ‘Bhor’
The making of the film Bhor.
As a filmmaker I wanted to experiment with the film and that is why when I thought of Bhor, I only thought of two things i.e I want to make a realistic film and second, I want to make a film on a subject which is being talked about so I chose the issue of sanitation and then we wrote a story on sanitation. I wanted the 'Musahar' community to be the focus of my film because I felt that they are the last people in our society and the success or failure of any policy or programme can be tested on the criteria, whether it has reached the last person or not. I wanted to show their reaction to a unique situation, through a girl from that society, who demands a proper toilet in her husband’s house soon after marriage and what happens when the toilet is finally constructed or when she continues her education after marriage.
The idea intrigued me and that's why I chose this as the main plot. So, when I wrote the script, I wanted a big banner to partner with me on this film. I went to a few big banners and I realised that they wanted more urban centric stories so that the film becomes commercially feasible. It was then that I thought of making the film independently and selling it later. So, I began looking for a good casting director because I wanted someone who could give me right cast not from any of the catalogues which they have. At first, we tried to audition people who are known, the people in our industry. We tried to get them onboard, but I realised they were also too busy to spare time for this project. We wanted them to do a workshop with me on their body language, on their acting, on their looks and no one agreed to give me two months because I was a first-time director.
My casting was done by casting director Dilip Shankar who has done films like Life of Pi and Monsoon Wedding. He is known to do a particular kinds of films, so he told me let's try some new faces, and I agreed. For 6 months we kept working on the casting and got the right people. Then we had to work on their accent, because Bhor is a story of a remote village in Bihar and I wanted it to be as realistic as possible. Our cast lived in the village for two months, we did a workshop on their looks. For example, their legs should look tanned and scratched, they should have dry lips; we got to work on these small and little things, which were important for the film.
When it came to costumes, I spoke to a costume designer in Mumbai and they had a very different approach. They wanted to keep the clothes in tea water and make it look old, whereas I wanted something more realistic. So, I took the help of Sandhya Yadav who was my assistant. I told her to assist me on costumes and she started overseeing the costumes for me. We went to the villagers, borrowed their clothes from them and those were the costumes used by us, we gave the villagers new clothes in return. This is how costumes were selected for Bhor. My entire cast wore rugged and used clothes actually worn by the villagers.
For a first time filmmaker the location is important. I wanted a raw, rustic location, so I could shoot. We chose North Bihar, but logistics in North Bihar was not possible, then we chose my assistant's place near Patna. We travelled 100 kms from there and shot the film. To keep the rustic look intact, we went to Musahar villages, we got their houses to shoot in, we requested them to shift to different a house and we used their houses in the film. Believe it or not but this was one unique experience for all of us.
As a first time filmmaker, after writing the script, the first hurdle is to get a producer, although I did not get any big banner, I was fortunate enough to get a producer who was a family friend - Mr. Anjani Kumar Singh.
When we first made the film, people told us that it will be very difficult to sell the film because the cast was unknown but later when it went to festivals, the opinion changed. However, a few friends and few good people in the industry, helped me a lot to make this possible. After post production, I had felt I made a mistake by not casting a known face in Bhor but once the reactions started - when the film premiered at IFFI, then it went to Cairo, when I won awards, then things started changing. I think the market is slowly adapting to OTT platforms in the entertainment sector, everyone now has a fair chance to release their film.
(Kamakhya Narayan Singh is the director of Bhor.)
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