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How I Made It: Riyaz (2020)

Riyaz (2020) is a unique story of a visually impaired boy who falls in love with a middle-aged widow with exceptional music skills.

He has only heard that the earth is colourful, but has never seen it. Black is the only colour he knows. He finds the reflection of himself within her. She is a middle-aged widow and her life is confined within a piece of white cloth. Perhaps this is why the widow seems familiar to the blind boy. It is her songs and loneliness that makes him fall in love with her. But is it only love he feels or there is physical urge as well? Because he used to believe other people to be weak and considered himself better.

82 Mins | Assamese | Drama, Musical, Youth, Romance | 2020 | India

In its persistent mission and zeal to promote good cinema, Diorama brings you the experience of the Director of the film - Mriganka Borah

Why this subject matter for your film?

In ‘Riyaz’, I am trying to showcase that music and literacy can play an integral part in the life of the common people. Music plays a pivotal role in every individual life according to me it helps soothe the people in distress and extend help in seeing things in a different manner. We know that ‘Riyaz’ means practising music and we mostly use this word in regards to the Indian classical music. I always find a person performing ‘Riyaz’ more interesting because it is something the performer does for himself or herself for its contentment and development. Besides the most important things that fascinate me is the ambience during the Riyaz gets totally lived up vibing positivity around the surroundings. Regarding the poetic side, in the film poem is not merely an expression of thoughts and emotions or an amalgamation of chosen words. It is where a blind boy separately binds together all his memories, his perception, passion and realizations of his own being, in accordance with his way of living.

Where did you find the story for this film?

The story first came in my mind in 2014 when I was a student. I was trying to make a short film on unity in diversity. I decided to make the film on a blind person’s point of view towards life and the world. I developed to make my debut film on the same theme. It took almost four years to complete the script. That is why the backdrop of the story ‘Riyaz’ includes a view towards the world, the society and the people in a manner abandoning the differences and flaws and focus on spreading love, equality and integrity.

What were the challenges you faced in making the film?

There were many challenges. I started making short films since I was a student. After I completed my masters in Mass Comm from Dibrugarh University, I got recruited at IIT Guwahati under a contractual position that involved multimedia production. However, I never had the chance to work under any filmmaker and nor am I known to anyone working in the film industry. People rarely know me and since it’s my first debut and me being not from the film background maybe that is one reason, whenever I approach any person related to my film I rarely get any support esp. financial support. But that did not stop me. I decided to start the project on my own. I invested all my savings and salary. So, it took me more than a year to complete the postproduction of the film. There were other challenges like doing research, especially about the visually impaired people. I was lucky that I got an opportunity to work at an NGO (Shishu Sarothi) working for children and youth with disabilities. I got to learn lots of things there and had experiences working with them. Also, I took help from google for other information.

Did you face any problems in releasing the film?

Before making the film, I used to think that making a film is going to be the biggest challenge of my life. But now I know that selling the film is a bigger challenge. Because it involves many factors that you can’t control. Besides, this Covid 19 outbreak has made it worst.

What was your background before making your first film?

My highest qualification is Masters of Arts in Journalism and Mass communication from Dibrugarh University, Assam. In the year 2013, as a student filmmaker, I made my first short video ‘Let’s Make Counting Easier for Them’, a public service announcement video promoting children’s right to education with an appeal to stop child labour. The video was screened in many national and international students’ film festivals and awarded in Cut.In Student’s Film festival organized by Tata Institute of Social Science, Mumbai, India and in First Frame Film Festival organized at Loyola Academy, Andhra Pradesh, India. My other short films have also got recognition from national and international institutions like the National Film Development Corporation of India, UNESCO India and the Commonwealth Educational Media Centre for Asia etc. and also screened in various national and international festivals. But I must say that I am the only one from my family who is working as a filmmaker or even have an interest in filmmaking.

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

I can only say filmmaking is not easy. But once you are in, you will find a way out. So, the first thing to overcome is your own fear. No one is waiting for you here to come and make your dream come true. Finance and distribution depend on the scope of the story, target audience, treatment etc. The one thing I understated is that if you are making a film for yourself and your target audience then you can make whatever you want. But if you are here for monitory profit-making that you have to consider many things before making your film.

Any other interesting facts about this film that you may like to cover.

The most important fact about the film is that the film was shot only in 9 days. Definitely, it was a result of dedicated teamwork.

Festivals and Awards

  1. 74th International Film Festival of Salerno where Riyaz had its premiere on December 11th, 2020.

  2. Asian Film Festival, Los Angels, Hollywood.

  3. Stockholm City Film Festival, Annual Edition 2020, Special Mention Award

  4. Diorama International Film Festival, 2020, New Delhi

  5. LIFFT INDIA FILMOTSAV - World Cine Fest - Nominee

  6. Buddha International Film Festival 2020, Pune, Received Best Concept Award

  7. Filmoptico – International Art Visual and Film Festival, 2021, Spain.

  8. Kalakari Film Festival, 2021

  9. Finalist at Sweden Film Awards

  10. NanJing International Film Festival, China

How to Reach the Director

Mriganka Borah




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