Amitabha Singh, acclaimed cinematographer and co-producer of The Good Road which was India’s entry to Oscars in 2013, is excited about his Shortcut Safari. The film was screened at the National Children’s Film Festival in Delhi yesterday. Singh speaks with SANGEETA YADAV about his plans for the future
Children and Nature have always been close to his heart and a source of inspiration for his work. Capturing these two loves of his life on celluloid, cinematographer-turned-director Amitabha Singh is excited about his upcoming children’s film Shortcut Safari. The film revolves around a group of schoolchildren in the 10 to 14 age group who get lost in a dense jungle away from home and family.
“Nature and children are the two creative reasons that motivated me to come up with Shortcut Safari. Through this film, I’ve showcased the relationship between Nature and humans. The way we are gradually moving away from Nature, shows how our understanding of it is diminishing. As our surroundings keep changing, our ways to adapt to changes also transform,” Singh says.
The film, wrapped up only a few weeks back, is all set for a commercial release next month-end. After having worked with children in the National Award winning film Chillar Party (2011), Singh feels that he has always had a magical connect with them. “There is a joke that is doing the rounds nowadays that if we give a smartphone to a child who is above 5 years, he or she might decipher all the functions of the phone much quicker than an expert. Through this film, I’ve projected how children who, get lost in a jungle away from their cellphones etc get to explore Nature at its best. And how the forest, being the kind of a magical place it is, slowly reaches out to their mind and soul and triggers a change in them,” Singh tells you.
Casting the children and making them act on screen gives directors a hard time but for Singh, it was a cakewalk. “For finalising the seven children for Shortcut Safari, we went about in an innovative manner. I visited many schools in Ahmedabad and observed schoolchildren at their natural best. After selecting the children from various campuses, we put them through a 20-day workshop to hone their acting skills. I told them that they are not supposed to act but behave. Every time, we used to be ready for the shot, we said ‘roll camera and behave’,” Singh recalls with a laugh.
Asked how his 14-year-old daughter reacted to his film, he said: “Aditi is the best critic of my work. She saw the film in bits and pieces and liked what she saw.”
What makes this film special is that many of the crew have an Oscar connect. Singh was cinematographer and co-producer for The Good Road which was India’s entry to Oscars in 2013. Cinematographer Mrinal Desai was the second unit DoP in Slumdog Millionaire, and sound designer Resul Pookutty, too, won an Oscar for Slumdog Millionaire.
(The article was published in The Pioneer Newspaper- http://www.dailypioneer.com/sunday-edition/sunday-pioneer/backpack/fun-film-about-nature-and-children.html)