Sunday, March 05, 2006

Bollywood at Warp Speed


This week an Indian filmmaker named Jayaraj apparently set a world record by shooting an entire feature length film (the movie is expected the run 74 minutes) in a startling 2 hours and 14 minutes.

My reaction was a mixture of awe and stupefication. Let's do awed first. Granted, Indian filmmakers are used to cranking out their films quickly. And Jayaraj had the advantage of working on studios and he says that he planned the lighting and the position of the three cameras down to the slightest detail. But still. Even on the low budget and student fare I am used to, the tweaking of lights, the reloading of mags and the lugging of cables just eats up a lot of time. Churning out a feature film in a little longer than it will take to watch the damn thing is something that would make even Roger Corman-- known for dashing off quickies like Little Shop of Horrors in a couple of days-- envious.

Now let's do stupefication. The long days of a shoot can be grueling to say the least. so, to dispense with the whole process in a day holds some appeal. But, to strive for brevity as an end in and of itself seems a bit curious. It would seem to me that the rush and the pressure to achieve the record could easily compromise the product. What if, for example, Jayaraj wasn't getting what he needed from one of the actors on a given take or the camera man missed a cue? Would he sacrifice the quality for the sake of the brevity?

I would love the chance to talk to him about his motivation and about his process during the shoot itself. I would be curious to see how the film, which is apparently based on the Schiavo controversy, plays. Does the energy and adrenaline that Jayaraj says fueled the production enhance the film, give it a energy, a vitality, or compromise it? Or perhaps not affect it at all?

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