Published: 25th August 2021
How this Hyd professor's film idea made it to the prestigious Asian Project Market
Busan International Film Festival's Asian Project Market has chosen Hyderabad-based Triparna Banerjee's feature film idea Riding on the Moon Boat and the filmmaker is surely off to a great start
Uncertainty, thy name is independent filmmaking. But the certitude that buoyed Triparna Banerjee through uncertainties was the clarity and conviction that this indeed is her calling. A certain quote from auteur Satyajit Ray was the starting point. "In an elaborate interview that I read as a kid, Ray said something along the lines of 'filmmaking is an art that amalgamates every other artform'," says this Professor of Screenwriting at Story Board School of Film and Design, Hyderabad. Thus, in her 13 years in the industry, the 36-year-old has worked as one of the writers of Galli Galli Sim Sim (Hindi adaptation of American animated series Sesame Street) and as the Associate Producer of National Award-winning film Frozen (2007), to name a select few, and has quietly built her repertoire of various artforms while waiting in the wings. Until three weeks ago, when her carpe diem moment finally arrived — her feature film idea was selected for the Asian Project Market at the Busan International Film Festival.
She recently worked on the screenplay for Trial of Satyam Kaushik (2019). Now, she is working on an animation film for Baweja Studios and with Miriam Chandy Menacherry on the documentary From The Shadows
For the uninitiated, the Asian Project Market is as big as it gets in Asia. It's a platform where hand-picked Asian filmmakers connect with industry bigwigs to explore co-production, investments and other such avenues. Though this is the second year the four-day market has gone virtual, no prizes for guessing why, its potential remains unparalleled. And Triparna has her wishlist in place. "My biggest expectation is to find financers for the film, connect with film institutes and bodies and gather as many resources as I can to get started," says the youngster who has worked with industry heavyweights like Hotstar, BR Films and ZEE5 in various capacities.
Stories of adolescent girls from small towns and their tales — this narrative has been predominantly absent from mainstream cinema. Triparna was inspired to pen Riding on the Moon Boat based on this and a very personal loss. "About six years ago, I was pregnant with my son and, at the same time, I lost my dog. It was quite emotionally disturbing for me — on one hand I was on the brink of giving birth, while on the other hand, I had lost a soul close to my heart. Then, I started thinking about how a 12 or 13-year-old from a nondescript village would deal with a loss so harrowing," shares the filmmaker. Over the years, the story has evolved into what it is now. Without giving away much, she assures us that the sociopolitical climate that is unfolding around us in 2021 will be an important part of the story. The mentorship, training and master classes that she was privy to while undergoing the prestigious Global Media Makers 2019 residency in visual storytelling in Los Angeles, USA (funded by none other than the US Department of Arts and Culture), helped a great deal. Then, there was also Iranian filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf's workshop, facilitated by the AR Rahman Foundation.
She has worked as a consultant for Ramanaidu Film School. She has also consulted for schools like Glendale Academy for their creative pedagogy
It is in October that the Asian Project Market will begin and, if all goes well, Triparna hopes that the work for her film can begin soon. "The market is competitive but I believe that the female perspective of the world and its surroundings is what will make my film stand out," says the optimistic Bengali who was born in Asansol, West Bengal, and came to Hyderabad in 2014.
As someone who is involved in helping young minds understand filmmaking and screenwriting, Triparna feels that though making a movie is easier in some ways, there is still a lot of merit in learning how to do it. "Cinema is an artform that has a vast history. There are certain patterns involved in motion pictures and there is a science and grammar behind it. When students learn this, it will certainly hold them in good stead," says Triparna and signs off.
Films that are equivalent to lessons on screenwriting, as per Triparna:
- 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days by Cristian Mungiu, a Romanian film, is a story of two friends and shows the sociopolitical conditions of Romania in the 1980s. Every scene just has one or two shots and the film has a never-seen-before cinematic narrative
- Capernaum by Nadine Labaki (Lebanon) was nominated for the Oscars and is a very powerful film that shows a country impacted by war and conflict through a child's perspective
- Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is not a lesser-known film, but a must-watch for every student of cinema and especially aspiring screenwriters. It is a simple love story and science fiction too
- A Separation is an Iranian film by Asghar Farhadi. It has an outstanding screenplay. It is a very simple story of everyday people and regular conjugal conflicts. This film shows that 'less is more'
For more on her check out her Instagram handle @triparnab