One of the celebrated cinematographers (DoP) of Bollywood, Amitabha Singh, who has National Award winners CHILLAR PARTY, KHOSLA KA GHOSLA and India’s Oscar entrant in 2014, THE GOOD ROAD to his credit, is all set to make his directorial debut with SHORTCUT SAFAARI. And if you thought that direction was Amitabha’s deliberate progression, then that’s not the case.
Touted as the best jungle adventure film, SHORTCUT SAFAARI that attempts to reconnect us with our roots through the eyes of seven children and showcase the natural world in contrast with the humdrum and chaos of daily city life, happened because of the various reasons and thought processes that went behind it.
Ask Amitabha for how long he has been toiling with the idea of turning a director and making a film like SHORTCUT SAFAARI and he says, “There is no definite beginning especially to SHORTCUT SAFAARI. Because it was not as if I had planned to turn into a director one day and direct a film. I don’t think SHORTCUT SAFAARI was that way planned. But SHORTCUT SAFAARI is an accumulation of thoughts, concerns, and ideas that you grow with and grow into. The plans were of many other stories, many other films. But it so happened that by the time I was finishing GOOD RAOD, an opportunity like this came up and it was an opportunity as well as challenge. Can we do something like this? This question raised and that is how the essential structure of SHORTCUT SAFAARI fell in place. It took us about three months to write the film but before we started to write the film there was no structured plan in place. However, we were clear that we wanted to make a film on this concept.”
Amitabha also lists down the pain points that instigated his mind towards directing a film like SHORTCUT SAFAARI. “The pain points like there was software for children, there is nobody who is making content for children and the kind of content which is passed off as children’s content is possibly not doing the right service in engaging them. I feel children are blessed with immense power of imagination and power of abstract perception. And that is the age where they are engaging with lot of abstract ideas and concepts. So to engage that mindset, I felt there was a big handicap that we were facing as content providers. Further the deteriorating environment is a huge pain point for me as individual and of course for all of us. There is a certain compulsive dependence who we are, where we live and what the entire planet is about. It’s a very complex relationship and to have this thought that we will invade the space and make space stations, we will colonize mars, it’s a good idea but at the same time I don’t think its addressing or solving fundamental problems per se. So it was a combination of all these pain points which then culminated into a film,” he says.
But above all what triggered his mind to come with SHORTCUT SAFAARI was his experience with the devastating floods of Uttarakhand and his visit to Sikkim.
He shares, “One of the most disturbing experiences in my recent memory has been the floods of UttaraKhand. We had gone to Kedarnath with my parents and my daughter, who must be 4-5 year old at that point of time. During that journey we also lost my daughter for a bit. We lost her practically for half an hour or so. So it was a very deep experience to have undertaken on my mind. I had certain visual memory of that experience which became a part of the subconscious mind. After the floods settled, still that memory use to challenge, shatter and shock me with the imagery flashing on my mind. So for me that was the moment of awakening. It was really disturbing. Before that we had gone to Sikkim where I saw that huge dams and power projects were being built. Deep down in the valley, they were trying to change the course of the river, under the Himalayas tunnels were being made to divert the flow of river. But in the scheme of nature, water has made certain course for itself. However, after two years down the line there was a huge landslide in Sikkim.”
He adds, “I feel there are certain fundamental cardinals what we may call it as balance of nature, which we are not able to completely connect with or understand. We are getting further and further and farther and farther away from nature. I think that separation is what is causing a problem, most in terms of material balance and also in terms of human balance that we feel.”
Jointly produced by Xebec Films Pvt. Ltd, Kashyap A Shah & Amigos Fin-o-tainment, SHORTCUT SAFAARI aims to deliver a very effective message to conserve Mother Nature. SHORTCUT SAFAARI hits the screens on April 29, 2016