“If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. It’s the hard that makes it great.”
― Tom Hanks
When a project goes into turnaround, it’s never a happy moment. Development execs, producers, and writers spend years laboring on a project only to see their hard work put on a shelf. There are many reasons to put a script into turnaround: a competing project beats them to theaters; a regime change alters the studios’ agenda; talent attachments fall apart; or the passion simply dies out. While it’s frustrating to see all that work wasted, turnaround can actually bring about a project’s second chance.
For Roy, a film is the most visually dynamic way that he can tell this kind of story and feel like people will listen. On one hand, he wants to make a quality and entertaining film that explores human behavior, the drama within us all and something we can all relate to, through this defined quality that at times can be incredibly scary, yet can also provide incredible beauty. The 0ne Rupee Film Project is an independent and ultra-low-budget crowd-funded feature length docu-fiction out of India. The makers of the film had to go through a 474 day long fundraising campaign. They asked for a minimum contribution of one rupee from everyone they came across. Thus, 2,85,000 Indian rupees could be raised to complete the production and the initial stages of post-production. The film is titled Aashmani Jawaharat aka Diamonds in the Sky but the campaign had been so huge that it is still popularly recognized as the one rupee film.
I want to make films that send out a strong social message to viewers and contribute towards changing the society. There’s a saying in the industry, “Good, fast, cheap… pick two.” We’re not willing to sacrifice “good” and we will make this film — it’s just a matter of how much money we’re able to raise. If we can raise more than the initial $2500 and film more up front, that would be an absolutely welcomed blessing. If we can’t, we’ll work with what we get and however long it takes.
So I’ve been at this project for just over 3 years now. I’ve been through a lot of ups and downs with it — it’s beat me into the ground on occasion, but I refuse to give up on it. I think it’s a timeless story that can serve purpose at any moment. I think it’s also time a movie came out that shows the stark, gritty realities of this condition without trivializing it. ”It would be worth it. I want the audience to walk out really thinking about what they just saw. It’s a real life docu-fiction with a twist.”
Making it Happen
Finances continue to remain a worry for independent filmmakers, despite the success of independent cinema every time a debut director manages to push his film to the theatres, an actor turns producer or a corporate house bankrolls a project. During the crowd-funding campaign for the 0ne Rupee Film Project, the makers decided to stay truthful and not use deceiving marketing techniques. Probably that’s one of the reasons why completion funds are not readily available for it. But whatever the case may be, the film did reach the point from where one can start looking for completion funds and in this whole process the money did come, not from any corporate entity, not due to the support of a celebrity, but through approaching individuals with the mere unexciting facts, so to speak, related to the feature-length docu-fiction.
As Riddhiman Basu points out in his article (Aashmani Jawaharat: A Panorama of Independent Film Scenario in India) , Anamitra had also met God who had told him that his film would never get a theatrical release. Not able to cope with this, he had committed suicide. It is also mentioned that the partially completed film is a sort of a suicide note, which the maker has left behind. Thus the premise is set for a make-believe counterpart of Anamitra, who belonged to a small town and is no more in this world. This layer or track makes itself apparent in many segments like ‘Segment 2:6 The Last Scene’.Ironically this is the first segment of the film, where a devastated Anamitra comes to his musician friend in order to find solace. All these scenes are enacted either by Anamitra himself, or other actors impersonating Anamitra. These quasi-real aspects depict the journey of the make-believe Anamitra and the obstacles he faces while trying to complete his film. However, these sequences also reflect the same for the real Anamitra. His experiences on this journey and the mindsets he came across have been cleverly shaped in the form of imaginary characters and sequences. Another interesting example of reconstruction is ‘Segment 2:1 The Executive Producer’, where Anamitra meets another producer who assures him that funds can come through different channels like ministers of the ruling party, while simultaneously chatting on his laptop. Such sequences provide an insight into the nature of the producers who are misleading or concerned with getting returns on their investments or in some cases, getting intimate with the actresses etc.
On the other hand, I want to use this story as a medium to reach others that may be struggling, or might be watching a loved one struggle and show them they’re not alone and they don’t have to live like that.
Whether we are an employee in the workplace, a parent, a teacher, or simply a member of a community, we all have powerful experiences that we can use to help others through similar challenges. Once we’ve been through a difficulty and have overcome it, we are uniquely poised to lead others through their own perilous times.
Manny Pacquiao is a Filipino world champion professional boxer. At age 32, he was elected to the Philippine House of Representatives; he also has been involved in acting, singing, and playing basketball. By all accounts, Manny is a huge success. But it’s what happened after his recent, widely publicized fight against Floyd Mayweather, in which Manny lost, that tells the real story about who he is.
After the fight, Mayweather went on to celebrate his win, spending $1.2 million on cham-pagne alone. Manny, on the other hand, proceeded with his plans, which had been finalized before the fight even took place. Win or lose, Manny was heading straight to St. Jude’s Ranch for Children, a supportive housing program for homeless youth, just as he had done every time he had fought in Las Vegas.
Manny explained that at the start of his career, a good friend advised him, “Manny, don’t you ever forget where you came from. If you forget that, it doesn’t matter how much you win. If you lose where you come from, you lose it all.”
You see, Manny grew up so poor that he had to drop out of school to help support his family. By 16, he was literally fighting for his life. Throughout it all, Manny never forgot where he came from, and that’s why he continues to bring boxes of gifts and toys for the poor children at St. Jude’s whenever the opportunity presents itself.
Time to Deliver
2012 was the year when the campaign for ‘The 0ne Rupee Film Project’ was launched. The film is actually titled ‘Aashmani Jawaharat aka Diamonds in the Sky’. Since its launch, the project went on to create waves across India. As Anamitra says, life is slow when you are fighting every day. But when I look back, it doesn’t seem so. I hope that the project succeeds without hurting any sentiments, be it political, communal or some other sensitive type. Filmmaking is an existential essential for people like me. It’s time we woke the asleep up. Never was a marginal film so much heard, read or shared about. It became a part of ‘The Goa Project’ in March, 2013, ‘Shortbusters, Bangalore’ in November, 2013 and the ‘Indiearth Xchange’ in December, 2013. It was featured in the ‘1st Kolikata International Film Festival’ that took place in September, 2013. Except these, the film has been a part of the Mumbai Film Mart at the Mumbai International Film Festival, 2013 and also Film Bazaar at International Film Festival of India, Goa, 2013. But the market always has its own rules and the final thing to say. The film is stuck in the last stage of post production due to lack of funds since October, 2013. Two times release dates have been postponed. It’s a feature-length (132 minute) docu-fiction about the indie film scenario in India made for 300,000 INR approximately (USD 5,000 $). Two books about the film is already available on the internet and the 3rd one is coming soon. Also, the screenplay will be made available for e-book readers this year. It’s been more than 800 days and no one knows the fate of the film yet.
What can be done. I think first and foremost is to acknowledge the immense contribution given by many people to the One Rupee Project. Secondly, to attach a sense of pride and privilege to be part of the film. This is perhaps the only film in the world which has a huge co-producers to its list and perhaps we may have some more till we complete the final crowdfunding exercise. We would also like to contribute after successfully launching our film ‘’Aashmani Jawaharat’’ to Make a wish Foundation. Any surplus amounts received thereof will be handed over to them to make a wish for anyone fulfilled. Any wish fulfilled could bring the greatest Joy, Hope and Strength in a Child and to the family. The foundation has experienced some of the unbelievable real life situations since inception. (http://www.makeawishindia.org/)
Maybe dedicate it in honour of someone. Be it your parents, Brothers, Sisters, Teachers, Uncles Aunts, Children , film lovers, FB friends, Birthday gifts, and in short anyone you would want to give this amount for the film. We would acknowledge it and have your name in the credits of the film.
On the finishing front of Aashmani Jawaharat I personally feel that we will bounce back and with the help of our friends ,contributors and well wishers will try to finish the project very soon.