Let us introduce you to the Indian director Prantik Basu, who participated in this year’s Berlinale Shorts competition.
Born in Kolkata, India in 1986, after taking a degree in English literature at the University of Calcutta, he studied film direction at the Film and Television Institute of India in Pune. His short film Sakhisona won a Tiger Award at the International Film Festival Rotterdam and screened at festivals worldwide. Further works, including Wind Castle and Makara, have also screened at festivals. His debut feature film, Dengue, which he developed with support from the Hubert Bals Fund, is currently in pre-production. His work focuses on gender politics and the relationship between nature and humans.
This documentary portrays the Santal people, native to the north of India. It is one of the largest ethnic groups whose origins go back to India’s indigenous population. While written language is a relatively recent development for the Santal, their myths have been passed down orally over thousands of years. Therefore, each story has a different form, a different rhythm, a different colour – like the mountains and hills of the surrounding region. The men work on the mountain and later in the village, which is in the midst of preparations for the annual ritual. It takes years for a tree to grow, bear fruit and provide shade. A view of Creation and its narrative: Like the myth that stretches from Genesis to the building of the first house, the images unfold with tranquil composure and affectionate reverence.
What is your ambition in the film?
In this film, I attempted to take a micro look at the unique correlation of nature and culture at an Indian tribal village and portray a parable-like tale of an existing ecological art at the threshold of extinction. If we look beyond the urban rationale, we will find that myths are very deeply entwined in the everyday lives of the indigenous people. For them, a tree is not just a tree; a pond not a mere hole on the ground to hold water. They are often personified and associated with more familial values. I tried to trace the mythical in the mundane.
What do you like about the short form?
For me, cinema is not about understanding, or decoding a formula that with derive the same inference every time one watches it. It has more to do with feelings and evocations, things that words often fail to express. It goes beyond storytelling. The short format allows more freedom to explore this aspect.
What are your future plans?
I am currently in the final stages of post production with a documentary feature that I have been working on for quite some time now. Besides, I am developing my first fiction feature -‘Dengue’ with the support of the Hubert Bals Fund for script and project development.
24 films from 17 countries have competed for the Golden and Silver Bear, the Audi Short Film Award, endowed with 20,000 euros, and a nomination as “Berlin Short Film Candidate for the European Film Awards 2019”.