ONCE Gaurav Madan put apart the frustration over a movie challenge — through which he had invested 4 years — falling by means of, the writer-director together with cinematographer Sunny Lahiri left for Varanasi. They reached the historical metropolis on February 12, 2019, in search of photographers, who seize the final photographs of the deceased delivered to the Manikarnika ghat for cremation. Lahiri had met a couple of such photographers throughout a Varanasi journey earlier, and each of them have been eager to discover the cinematic potentialities these uncommon professionals held.
They checked into a rundown guesthouse close to the ghat and devoted the subsequent three weeks roaming the metropolis, scouting for places, and, most significantly, creating the script of Barah by Barah. “It’s extremely difficult to write a film about a place like Varanasi sitting in the cacophonous discomfort of a Bombay home. The narrative started to take shape gradually during our Kashi stay,” says Madan. Though accustomed to the life and tradition of Kashi, it was the first time Madan soaked in its ambiance as a ‘filmmaker’.
This time, nonetheless, Madan and Lahiri got here throughout just one man, Indra Kumar Jha, who photographed useless folks at the ghats, whereas different such photographers appeared to have opted for different methods of incomes their livelihood. Jha too, they discovered, was deliberating on shifting to Dehradun to work along with his brother-in-law.
The transformation of Varanasi — cultural, structural and political — turned the central theme of the film. Driving the narrative of this altering holy city is the story of Barah by Barah’s protagonist, Sooraj (essayed by Gyanendra Tripathi), who is going by means of troubled occasions identical to outdated Kashi, even because it is getting a trendy makeover with flyovers and freeways. The photographer is out of work courtesy smartphones with cameras. But the film seems past Sooraj’s struggles to chronicle how the metropolis’s tradition and ethos are present process a change.
“The film is the portrayal of a dilemma not just of a character but of an entire city undergoing a cosmetic facelift. The eternal question is – in an effort to embrace modernity and development, are we ready to let go of our past?,” says Madan. The movie’s forged additionally options Geetika Vidya, Harish Khanna, Bhumika Dube and Aakash Sinha.
Since Varanasi is a much-explored location and topic in Indian cinema, did they really feel the stress of saying one thing new? Madan, by his personal admission, was “quietly confident” of having a distinct voice. He additionally had religion in his protagonist — the photographer studying to deal with the altering methods of life. “It was an unspoken understanding between Sunny and me that we would not over-romanticise the ghats and old lanes of the city,” says Madan.
They saved the course of of writing “organic” as they repeatedly switched roles between being writers and technicians. “We carried out location scouting alongside writing the script,” says Madan, who has earlier assisted on films equivalent to Quick Gun Murugan (2009) and Barah Aana (2009). Though Madan and Lahiri had written two different scripts beforehand, Barah by Barah received made first.
While creating the script, Madan and Lahiri determined to shoot the movie on celluloid. “It was purely an artistic call. The story we wanted to tell was of a death photographer struggling to make ends meet due to the advent of smartphones. Filming it on celluloid in a digital age seemed like a happy irony,” says Madan. The choice threw a set of “sweet challenges” and demanded “great discipline” from the crew. “We rehearsed a scene at least 10 times before a take,” says Lahiri, the cinematographer and co-writer.
Most of the scenes are lengthy photographs and thoughtfully framed. Lahiri believes framing a scene to be a half of the writing course of. “The locations of the film lent themselves naturally as we were in Varanasi for writing the script. Our only struggle regarding the locations was that we had decided early on to shoot at real locations,” says Lahiri. Shooting in the outdated bustling metropolis of Varanasi, particularly Manikarnika ghat, the place they needed to movie scenes not simply montages, created logistical hiccups. That, nonetheless, didn’t deter the Barah by Barah group.
“The stupendous mystery and mysticism of the place draw artistes to ancient Kashi. That drew me as well. I call this place a ‘temporal paradise’. In Kashi, you can be young, old and non-existent at the same time. Thus the last chapter of our film is aptly titled Death, Life Etcetera!,” says Madan. The function movie’s script, divided in seven chapters, was written in lower than 20 days and was prepared by the finish of February 2019. The capturing began on March 19 and was wrapped up inside a month.
Its post-production, nonetheless, was delayed as the makers ran out of funds. Barah by Barah was screened throughout the International Film Festival of Kerala, 2021,beneath the ‘Indian Cinema Now’ competitors class. Its subsequent cease is the Pune International Film Festival, the place the film is a half of the World Competition part, more likely to be held in April.