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How I Made It: Grohon (2021)

Does the evil, the darkness lie within us? Do we fall prey to outside agents that kindle the dark flame within us and make us evil in spite of ourselves? Is that how the powerful gets things done his way, spreading hatred and fear across humanity?

In the film, a journalist travels to a remote place outside the city to interview an award-winning writer. The writer is a recluse, lives alone in a strange house and writes stories that often revolves around paranormal activities. He has a dual personality having two different persons living within him. One who is a harmless family-man, the other a demon, who wants to awaken the evil inside man and conquer the whole world by power. The journalist comes face to face with an experience that changes her forever.

19 Mins | Bengali | Supernatural Horror | 2021 | India

In its persistent mission and zeal to promote good cinema, Diorama brings you the experience of the Directors of the film - Amrita Ray and Anubrata Dutta

What inspired you to venture into short filmmaking?

From my early childhood, I have always been fascinated by stories and how they are told. I was always surrounded by story books. Radio and TV came into my life a while later probably during my adolescence. While reading stories pictures started forming in my mind, many authors had such a literary style that was very descriptive, as if a scene is being etched by words. Later on when I started watching these stories come alive on a screen may it be on TV or on the big screens, I was fascinated by how the story was visualized, the dialogues etc. Even some advertisements seemed to be narrating a story visually with an additional challenge of brevity. So in time as I was growing up I started reading about how films are made. This was theory and I was itching for practice. However it was not so easy then to get hold of a movie camera, if Smart phones which shoot 4k video had been around then and I could have afforded them, I would probably have started much earlier. After completing my formal education and embarking on my career which was always a priority, settling down in my life, few years back I found an opportunity to learn filmmaking formally with a short course in it. As a part of that course there were student projects where we had to make shorts and present them. This is how it all started for me. There was no turning back from then on and whenever the situation permitted and I had the time and other resources at hand and an interesting narrative, I tried making a film. Short films are easier to make in a way as they cost less money and time than a full length feature , so they were a good option for someone like me who is starting new and has to juggle my passion with my profession and family needs. That in short is my story and in a way the same is true for my co-director. It was this passion to make an interesting story come alive on the screen with the limited resources we have at our disposal which brought us together on this journey.

What was your background before making this film?

Amrita: I am B.Tech in Electronics and Communication Engineering and have been working as an IT Professional for the past 17 years or so.

Anubrata : I am a B. E and am an entrepreneur in the Education Space along with other businesses.

What was the starting point for you of deciding to make this film?

It is pretty interesting actually, both of us in our ways have been looking for opportunities to make a short film, we met through a common acquaintance and soon movies became a frequent topic of our conversations. In time we came to realize that in terms of the content and style of films that we liked, we had a lot of common ground. We decided to pool our resources and make a short film together. “ Grohon “ is the outcome of our collaboration.

Why this subject matter for your film?

Surreal has always been of interest to both of us. The inexplicable has its own allure. We find complex characters and their motives most interesting in any narrative. In terms of the treatment we wanted to make a film where atmosphere becomes a character of the story .A subject where we have elements of all these and a transformation within; made us choose this subject.

Where did you find this story for this film?

The story is an original, both of us worked together to elaborate on the basic premise. We drew upon our individual experiences either personal or imbibed to come up with this treatment that you see on the screen.

What were the challenges you faced in making the film?

Aside from the usual challenges of arranging for the financial aspects, getting a team together of people who understood our vision and owned it as much as we did , the innovative ways we had to approach the script during filming keeping in mind our budgetary compulsions , equipment, location etc . A major one was to convince an established A Lister actor to be a part of this project. We were new directors working on a very limited budget so I think it was the subject, our confidence in it, the challenges that the role presented to an actor which ultimately made him say yes.

Also as both of us had to manage the demands of our profession along with this on a day to day basis , it was quite challenging to work out a schedule for the activities required and stick to it.

Making short films on a zero or a low budget is a common practice for most short filmmakers around the world. Do you think it affects the quality of production? What would you suggest to first time short filmmakers on a budget to ensure a good enough production quality?

In our experience the choice of the subject and the treatment if done wisely and keeping in mind the budget constraints, getting those people in the team who are ready to stretch and improvise t support you; these are key to maintain the quality of production even on a shoe string budget. If the movie is about something the core team cares much beyond it’s financial prospects and this becomes apparent to others who are with you on this journey , people come forward to help and support. We can never thank them enough as without this hand of help which they have extended to us even sometimes before being asked for it; this movie could not have been made on the budget that we were on.

Did you face any problems in releasing or distributing the film? Do you think short filmmakers today have a marketplace to showcase and sell their works?

We are currently in the process of trying to find distributors for our short film. With the advent of OTT platforms and YouTube channels which have a dedicated viewership we think that short filmmakers have more options for distributing their films. However few challenges are there namely, getting your first film distributed is much more difficult than if you have some credibility in the market as a consistent and quality filmmaker who has an audience. Also most of the OTT platforms demand certain technical standards in terms of equipment, format, quality, production values which maybe a challenge for short film makers working on a very limited budget.

How do you think filmmakers like you can overcome common challenges like finance and distribution?

The strength of the content and the quality of the content can only help when it is out there before the audience , the major challenges appear much before. Finances are always a problem especially for first time film makers who have yet to gain any credibility based on their past work . Your body of work and the interpersonal relationships that you forge while creating it are the only assets you have. Festivals like Diorama help a lot in showcasing the content and helping filmmakers find an audience , some also facilitate interactions with various OTT platforms as a part of the festival where film makers can not only try to secure a distribution deal for their current project but also pitch new ones for finance.

Any other interesting facts about this film that you may like to cover, any experiment you did, or style?

Well, we had to do a lot of experimental stuff during the shooting of this film to enable us to present the content at the quality we desired with the budget that we had at our disposal.

Some of these experiments worked and some did not. However the ones that did not helped us learn how not to do things as well; lessons which we will carry with us on our journey for future projects.

We experimented with different shots to try to create the effect we did not have the budget to do VFX for. The transformation in our film had supernatural causes which is very difficult to portray on the screen without the usual tropes and costly VFX, we had neither of these and were yet attempting to tell this narrative convincingly.

The actors, and the DoP all improvised to make this happen.

Is this film going to affect the society, and who should watch it.

We feel every film affects those who watch it someway or the other. The effect may or may not be what the makers had envisaged while making the movie. How closely does that happen depends on how effectively the movie has been able to come across. Our surreal story is also a cautionary tale in disguise which is telling us to be wary of the enemy within ourselves , our self serving nature which often prompts us to make compromises sometimes even unethical for small wins, often ends up overpowering the best of us with unintended tragic consequences not only for us but for the society as a whole.

What would you advice filmmakers making a short film for the first time?

Be very careful while choosing the subject and treatment from the very onset so that the constraints do not come in your way midway. Choosing people in your team who value the project for things beyond the financial promise is key. Be ready to improvise when situation demands it. Rather than think about what would work for most people in the audience try to make a movie which first resonates with you , only then can you give your heart and soul to it and you will need that to make it see the light of the day. The journey is not going to be easy and perseverance through all the obstacles is key.

Film Poster - Grahan (2021)

List of Film Festivals (Official Selection)

• Kolkata International Film Festival – 2021

• Diorama International Film Festival – 2021, New Delhi

• Bengal International Short Film Festival – 2022, Kolkata

• Pune Short Film Festival – 2021

• Bengal Shorts – Rostrum International Short Film Festival – 2022, Kolkata

• One Earth Awards – 2022, Bangalore

• Festival RNAB – 2022, Brazil

• Lift Off Sessions Online – 2021

• First-Time Filmmaker Sessions @PinewoodStudios – 2021

• Noble International Film Festival And Awards – 2021

• Fillum International Storical & Short Film Festival (FISSF)

How to Reach the Directors

Amrita Ray



Anubrata Dutta


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