Filmmaker Bharatbala, who produced the iconic video for AR Rahman’s Maa Tujhe Salaam, is known for the beauty of his visual frames. His Virtual Bharat initiative aims to document stories from across India through 1,000 films. His most recent initiative was a short film, titled Uthenge Hum, capturing visuals of India during the lockdown.
In this edition of NL Interviews, Bharatbala joins Abhinandan Sekhri to talk about what motivated him to document India during the nation-wide lockdown to contain the Covid-19 outbreak. He says he wanted to capture India in this moment for posterity, to remember what the country went through. “Can you imagine India in silence?” he asks.
Bharatbala explains how he remotely coordinated shooting from locations as varied as Guwahati, Varanasi and Kochi in a single day. Abhinandan asks what he expects the audience to draw from Uthenge Hum. Bharatbala says that for him, personally, it’s “never forget”, but he’ll let the audience decide what they want to pick up from it. He also talks about capturing the vibrance of nature and the disturbing contrasts between slums and skyscrapers.
Going back in time to discuss the pop culture phenomenon of Maa Tujhe Salaam, Abhinandan says if “viral” was a thing back then, that video was it. Bharatbala then talks about his Virtual Bharat project and discusses whether digitisation opens up spaces for passion projects in films. Abhinandan also asks him his views on patriotism, and what he’s planning next.
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