LIFE AFTER DEATH? - SUBHASH CHANDRA BOSE feature film (director interview)
FESTIVAL AUDIENCE FEEDBACK VIDEOS • 11m
LIFE AFTER DEATH? - SUBHASH CHANDRA BOSE, 50min., India
Directed by Iqbal Chand Malhotra
The most intriguing enigma of modern India is the disappearance of her most dynamic and daring freedom fighter, ‘Netaji’ Subhash Chandra Bose, in the middle of August, 1945. Though the goal of a free India was achieved in 1947, there was no trace of the man who had wanted this most passionately through armed struggle; inspired millions to contribute to his war effort and enthused thousands to join his Indian National Army, to fight alongside the Japanese against the British-Indian Forces in South and South-East Asia. Even 77 years later, the mystery stands unresolved with important documents in Russia, France, the UK, and even in India, hidden in top-secret classified archives. The conflicting stories and accounts of this disappearance remain and so do the myriad theories that point to diverse directions.
The nature of the documentary, “Life After Death?” is different from standard formats and comprises two major techniques of dramatic reconstruction of past events combined with a debate about those events that carries the audience forward. The story is seamlessly divided into various parts which lead up to a new contextual understanding of the still enduring mystery behind the story.
This is revealed in documentary style where an explanatory voice over explains the details of each part of the enduring mystery. To do this, the film uses surviving archival footage as well as photographs, as well other visual material from the time and context of the part of the story the film deals with.
Another technique used to tell the story in a graphic and effective way is through dramatic reconstructions which resurrect the past happenings before the audience, for a clearer understanding of the forces at play over the historical continuum.
This is how the Voiced Over sections of the film play out.
The other technique availed of, is a multi-camera shoot of an informed and involved discussion – featuring three leading analysts of the Bose mystery – of the same segments that have just been shown. So, each segment is looked at twice – once in verité documentary style, showing contemporary visuals, with a commentary describing the events and situation; and once in a bare-all discussion, sometimes contentious, between three persons with scholarly knowledge of what transpired (or must have) on the ground at that time. In this way, the complex and grand story, set on a scale that is almost impossible to imagine or fictionalise, is pieced together and inferences are drawn from the facts.
This form makes up the backbone of the film’s character – the documentary style and the discussion, shot with multiple cameras, making this a gripping and meaty watch, with much to mull over and details to digest. In the end, though opinions are put forward, the audience is free to make up their mind one way or the other. Or, indeed, to keep their minds open until further evidence and proof is unearthed or files from the secret archives in London, Paris, Moscow, Delhi, Saigon, and Tokyo are declassified.
Get to know the filmmaker:
1. What motivated you to make this film?
This subject of the disappearance of Mr. Bose during WW2 fascinated me as I had made two earlier films on this subject in 2016 for Discovery Channel and in 2017 for History TV18 channel and despite these two films a lot of questions about this story remained unresolved. This film is intended to put them into perspective.
2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?
As I said, over the last 6 years I have made 3 films on the subject. This particular film took me 3 months.
3. How would you describe your film in two words!?
4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?
Paucity of funds
5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?
6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?
7. What film have you seen the most in your life?
Gone With the Wind
8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?
I have been very satisfied so far.
9. You submitted to the festival via Film Freeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?
10. What is your favourite meal?
Fried eggs on toast with streaky bacon
11. What is next for you? A new film?
Working on it!
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