September 10, 2014

Prathamesh KriSang – The Director of One Last Question, an Exclusive Interview

A real life story. Four friends from Agia, Assam inspired to join an extremist group which has been fighting to gain independence from the Republic of India. Prathamesh KriSang, a Pune based filmmaker portraits this story in celluloid as “One Last Question”. The 40 minute long film is written and directed by Prathamesh KriSang. Incidentally, Veteran actor Adil Hussain is playing a key role in this film. Editor Pranjal Borah talks to this brilliant young director Prathamesh KriSang about his childhood, passion and the making of “One Last Question”.

First of all, a warm welcome from the team of

Prathamesh KriSang: Thank you for having me. I have stumbled upon on your portal many times. Your work is pretty interesting. Specially because I can’t read Assamese and I get to read about things about Assam in English.

Question: Pl tell us about your childhood and family.

Prathamesh KriSang: My childhood was not very exciting. I would be unfair if I said I enjoyed my childhood. That was the most uneventful phase of my life. My world as a child mostly existed in my mind. I remember very little about it. Most of my time passed in day dreaming. But I was one of those smart kids good at nothing, no sports nor studies. And I never knew I was smart, until my father sent me out in the world when I was 16. I came to Pune city for further studies after my 10th.

My father and mother have a ‘just for her’ store in a village called Uruli Kanchan near Pune. We were raised there. Both my elder sisters are two most strong, loving and ambitions women I have seen in my life, other than my mom. My father was a tailor before shifting to the store business as a result of an accident. But for me my father is the king, my mom is the queen and my sisters are the princesses.

One thing that always struck my fancy as a child was computers, stones, shells and everything else that existed outside that four walled classroom. I hate the classrooms even today. I always craved that my world of imagination come to reality somehow like magic, and I was introduced to the concept of animation while I was in 5th. It struck my fancy.  I kept researching about it obsessively. By the time I was in 10th, we bought a computer at home. Which was apparently a super slow machine (128MB RAM) for animation softwares.  Yet, I began sitting all day long in front of the screen to learn and keep making mistakes. At a super slow speed.

Later by the time I was in 12th, it was time to decide to go for animation. I realised that the animation students already graduating from Indian animation schools were worse than I imagined, the next best option was to go abroad. Which was not possible for a middle class boy like me. The next best decision was to go for Business Administration. I am glad I took that decision.

Question: Your education?

Prathamesh KriSang: I would say “Making mistakes” at lightning speed. I graduated as a Bachelor in Business Administration, which practically never helped me make a better businessman, but out-of-classroom life gave a huge exposure.  I never ever did any workshop or course related to filmmaking. They are way too slow. I was NOT patient enough to wait for six months or three years of a course to learn something that I could totally learn in 1/10th of time and then keep making mistakes at a lightning speed for the next six months. That is my film school. Making mistakes. I am a fast learner. Like, while shooting in Assam; I somehow managed to learn to understand Axomiya in a month. Though it faded away when I came back.

I won’t say everything I learnt about my passion was self taught, but I can say it was self explored. Everything I did was on the internet. Thanks to the Digital Age.

Question: You are the founder of Yellow Thoughts and KriSang Motion Pictures. Please share your experiences.

Prathamesh KriSang:
Yellow Thoughts was our previous venture in partnership with my friend Devendra Mali. Our major focus was on graphic designing. I was also into professional graphic designing. Mostly identity development and branding.

Krisang Pictures came into being as a result of my passion for filmmaking. It was not deliberate. I was an accident. I never considered filmmaking before until I was actually into making films for money. I was lucky enough to be paid for learning while I was making films.

When I got my first project to edit a film, I did not know how to use an editing software. I was confident that I can learn it fast and so I took up the project and gave the client an extended deadline. I learnt the software in a day or two and delivered the product four days later. The client was happy with the aesthetic and quality of work. The work started rolling in. And I started getting some more aesthetically creative work as well. Same happened with my graphic design work, which I have almost stopped now.

Then I tried my hand of camera. Somehow, I could get great results with very silly cameras as well. I thought may be I’m good at it. So I bought a camera with loan from friends and family. And so I became an editor, graphic designer, cinematographer and an entrepreneur. It is weird that 3 years ago was the first time I ever picked up the camera in my hand to seriously consider it as a profession. I love it. Though ‘Direction’ is my ultimate motive as far as my creative desires go.

Now we are a bunch of creative individuals at Krisang Pictures engaged into a lot of professional and experimental activities in filmmaking.

Question: Entrepreneurship – Not a popular choice in India! Why did you choose to be an entrepreneur?

Prathamesh KriSang:
Well, I don’t know. It’s just a fancy new word with a lot of embezzlement. It was never really a big deal for me. It was a default that I would be doing business. I come from a family where we understand business pretty well but find job alien. It has its own challenges. We need a lot of patience and work to develop a company. We have to be ready to bear losses, lose people, fight back, overcome all kinds of emotional roller coasters and make sure things go smooth and it’s just a way of thinking that makes a difference. But that was how we were raised. The credit goes to my family. As a child, my father always kept telling me again and again that in any business quality and time are the two most important factors. If you can’t deliver within what client wants, be clear about it. To such a point that it has been engraved on my subconscious. Even today, I haven’t seen a man with the kind of discipline and quality my father could deliver. So delivering value for your product has always been in my genes. I am still far far far far (4 times) away from his standard of work discipline.

My mother, she taught me how to market a product. She will never ever push any product down a customer’s throat just because we’ll earn good profits for it. She sold all the products out of care for the customers. That was a huge lesson. Made me a better person and a better businessman.

And both my elder sisters, they broadened my world view. They exposed me to new things time and again. That made me stands out in a lot of situations throughout till today.

Read more about One Last Question: One Last Question : A film on Assam Militancy and Hope

Question: Please share your experiences in the making of “One Last Question”.

Prathamesh KriSang: One Last Question was born as a result of a blog that I read in July 2013. My friend, Manjit Nath, whom I met on Jagriti Yatra. I loved his story and called him immediately that I want to make a film based on that story. He agreed and so it goes.

There are so many experience that a different blog post can make up for it. Yet, the experience can be categorised in three phases. One was during production and pre-production in Assam, second after we came back exhausting all our money in making the film and third the crowd funding campaign experience.

While in Assam we had to face many hurdles, beginning from language, wich was a very easy one. But then there came handling such a sensitive subject in a sensitive area, finding the right actors, it was a first time experience for the villagers there, getting the equipments to the region, locations. But in spite of all this, the immense support that everyone in the village of Agia gave us made a difference. The DC and SP of Goalpara district came on the set and made sure we were running smoothly.

I’m also very thankful to Adil Hussain sir for his interest in the film. It was the best thing to happen to the whole film. And all of this could never be possible without the generous help, support and encouragement of Sukracharya Rabha. He is the sole reason for the film what it is today. He had faith in us. That’s all you need.

Once we were back after exhausting our money. Our next big challenge was to get back on our feet to survive for ourselves. We had done 70% of the shoot in Assam with the money we had and to do the remaining 30% shoot and post-production we needed further funds. This made us to go for the crowd funding channel. Once we were back to normal, which took around 6 months, we began preparing for the campaign. And the campaign was launched.

We had the campaign during one of the biggest elections in the world, FIFA world cup and IPL matches spanning all the 45 days. That made things difficult for us to attract attention in spite of all the aggression. But we did it in the end. Thanks to all the funders.

Question: Crowd funding – another not so popular idea in India. But you raised more than 5 lakhs through crowd funding for your new film “One Last Question”! Please share your experience.

Prathamesh KriSang:
As said before, it was a hell of an experience. I am a very negative thinker. It’s always best to consider the worst case scenario and work for that. I am a believer of Murphy’s Law. “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong”. And that’s how it is natural. We don’t consider the things that could go wrong, because we are covered in our own egos. And specially working on a medium like film, you have to deal with it. It’s a way of living for a filmmaker. It is always helpful to have a plan b, c, d, e and so on. Flexibility helps. And flexibility is at the root of my nature. I am idealistic in my vision but never in the path that I would take to reach there. You can get a brief idea here:

Question: Any upcoming projects?

Prathamesh KriSang:
As of now, I’m concentrating on One Last Question. We are working on some bold ideas. But there’s still time for that. I don’t have any long term plans right now.

Question: Thank you for giving us your valuable time. Best wishes for your future projects.

Prathamesh KriSang:
Thank you. These were some unique questions. Enjoyed answering them. Looking forward for some exciting future projects.