In somewhere around early 40s of his life, an independent filmmaker is narrating distinction through his cinema. Sandeep Mohan, an Indie film director who depicts explorations through his style of cinema with a lighter yet convincing approach, recently gifted a journey of a freelancer through his cinematic expression. Simple and resonating stories that fill up our regular lives is what he tries to draw out and keep the pace low key. When we say distinction, it is the concept of the “Great Indian Travelling Cinema” which he is parent of. Under the canopy of this concept, he travels with his films to various parts of the country and exhibit them in cafes, pubs, co working spaces and other such venues.
With not being in the industry either to dance up to CBFC’s nod or to make any point to anyone or please and earn praise from the community; he simply wants to create films and own them. He is the writer, director, distributor and exhibitor of his dreams. After his release of Shreelancer, a 98 minute journey that explores freelancer’s life; Media Konnect got a rewarding opportunity to share a beautifully striking conversation with his private screening with us.
MK: How did filmmaking happen?
Sandeep: I was 21 when I came to Mumbai with an intention to do something in advertising and eventually ended up being an assistant to Sanjay Leela Bhansali. Soon after which I realised that this is not the right place for me to fit in. I went to Bangalore and stuck to the city with a very liberal vibe to it. I was doing copywriting there. Gradually the idea of enjoying my creative freedom and desire to write for myself, made me create Love Wrinkle Free in 2012.
MK: What gave birth to “Great Indian Travelling Cinema”?
Sandeep: So when Love Wrinkle Free was certified ‘A’ by our ‘CBFC’, I thought of opting a path that established my independence as a filmmaker. Hence I thought stepping out of certification and formulated exhibition which ultimately is known as “Great Indian Travelling Cinema”. I started private screenings for small to mediocre gatherings. Festival circuits, special slice, critic’s acclaim are not my ambitions. Instead, I would want my simple and relatable creative energy to set up an equation with masses in a similar fashion. Keeping at bay from controversies and unnecessary dilutions I simply chose ‘peaceful filmmaking’.
MK: How does the process of exhibition happens, or let’s put it as the post production journey of your film?
Sandeep: So it’s crowd funding. The concept is I run the film in alternate spaces like cafes, pubs, bars, corporate spaces etc. I don’t seek upfront payment, rather stick to an opinion payment style. I ask them to pay only if they like the film after its screening followed by an interactive session. How simple it is to own your creation without too many commercial percolations, thereby staying connected with audiences. Why should I hand over my remote of creative liberty to someone? My films are shot on low budget ( Hola Venky: 10 lac, Shreelancer: 27 lac) for which I bag producers who are more friends. Shreelancer had six producers. On the stage of earning, I have no specific revenue model. It is just that travelling with my films make me cover the production cost. On the flip side I try to keep the substance in the content intact and low cost of production. I having been living upto Indie cinema my way.
MK: How was the journey of capturing a freelancer’s journey?
Sandeep: With my films, I try exploring spirits of masses and myself. After Hola Venky, I questioned myself on survival against the distribution and operational model of film industry. I keep doing this to myself in order to understand the freedom of creativity. Travel has been my trajectory throughout and the film shaped out of it. 2 years of journey, 21 days of shooting, 16 people onboard and multiple destinations have all carved out the direction for Shreelancer. Independent cinema is your own expedition for life, happens on your conditions and you have a sense of ownership for it. Travelling makes you experience what you are informed of and this can only be felt when you do it.
MK: Where do we see you 5 years from now and what do you think about Media Konnect?
Sandeep: We will see that together (grins). As I get to travel a lot and while on my treks I have realised, if we focus farther, we fall on the present stride. The idea is to live in the moment. Media Konnect is doing a wonderful job for filmmakers and other artists in order to connect them and let collaborations happen.
So somebody is breaking monotony. Sandeep is creating a new pathway for independent filmmakers which bypasses the conventional laws of distribution and exhibition. It is always an enamouring experience to watch creativity wedding freedom.