By Vidya Pradhan
Sometimes you have a dream that is so big, so absurd, that pursuing it is like tilting at windmills. But if you happen to be that rare person who will stop at nothing, sometimes that sheer force of will can turn that dream into reality.
Aman Boparai, a project manager in the software industry, nursed his dream to make a full-length Hindi film for years. He tried his hand at short films and eventually wangled his way into assisting a Bollywood film company when they were in town. His experience convinced him that he was ready to tackle the rigors of his own production.
He completed his script in 2003 and started working on the film the next year. Like many other Silicon Valley endeavors, this one also began with a viral email sent out to friends in the area. “I did try reaching out to my contacts in Mumbai, but the Catch-22 was that no one wants to take a risk on a guy who has never made a movie before,” says Aman. He contacted members of theater groups in the area like Naatak and developed a full schedule for the shoot.
It took a whole year to shoot the film. (The movie has been shot at various locations in the Bay Area and viewers will be able to identify the Golden Gate headlands, Embarcadero Street and the waterfront, and beaches in Santa Cruz.) Not only was he constrained in being able to shoot only on weekends, given the transient nature of employment here, he also had to deal with cast members moving back to India. In one tragic incident, he even lost an actor to a fatal accident and had to re-shoot the relevant scenes.
Such obstacles would have deterred a less courageous man, but Aman soldiered on. He was determined to faithfully follow the script of a masala movie, complete with songs and dances. “I didn’t want to make a parallel art film festival kind of movie. To get noticed I wanted to make a full fledged movie on a smaller scale and smaller budget,” he says. He went to India to get the background music done and contracted with a composer from Chicago for the songs. When the songs didn’t meet his standards, he decided to learn music and compose them himself! Singers were hired from the vast pool of talent in the area.
Once the raw film was in the cans, it was time for the editing. Aman ended up investing in the equipment to edit the movie himself. It took him two years. “A full day of shooting often throws up only a few minutes of usable film”, he points out.
What about the reaction from his family? Considering the entire movie was funded out of Aman’s savings, it is not surprising that his family has been dead against it. “I have tried to give as much of time to them as possible,” says Aman ruefully. “We go camping, to picnics, social events. I try to live as much of a normal life as possible. I don’t sleep much. My wife is finally coming around to believe at least I am different from other people. Financially, it is a struggle but since I am a consultant, I don’t have the constraints of a 9-5 job. But I have held a job throughout this process and have been able to meet all my deadlines.”
Chappar Faad Ke, Aman Boparai’s labor of love, will run from March 7th to March 13th at Naz8 in Fremont. Later, Aman plans to take the movie to other countries and finally land up in India with a full-fledged movie on his resume. I asked him why he chose not to release the movie straight to DVD as many ABCD movie producers have done recently. “I have worked so hard on this, I want people to see the movie on the big screen so I can see how they react,” he argues. “Sending it straight to DVD is like throwing it in the gutter because I will not get any feedback.”
Feedback and a ticket to bigger things in Bollywood is what Aman hopes to get out of his 4 year experiment. The belief is that once you successfully make a movie, good or bad, the doors to the mainstream movie industry in India slide open just a little.
Like the tragic-comic one-man-band played by Raj Kapoor, Aman has written, produced, directed, composed the music, written the songs, marketed and distributed the movie himself.
I had the opportunity to watch the trailer. CFK has been made with a pencil-thin budget and it shows. The feel is raw, even though there are moments any Indian immigrant will identify with. Chappar Faad Ke may or may not be a great movie, but I salute this Indian Don Quixote for believing in himself and achieving the impossible on his own and on his own terms. CFK is Aman Boparai’s magnificent obsession. We will have to wait and see how this young filmmaker matures and grows into his own.
To support one of our own Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, check out one of the many screenings this weekend at Naz8 in Fremont.
Chappar Faad Ke , a Hindi comedy movie by Aman Boparai
Showing at Naz8 Fremont, CA
Fri 7th March — 5pm,8pm and 11pm,
Sat, Sun — 1pm,4pm,7pm,10pm.
Mon-Thur — 4pm,8pm
More details at www.cineglobal.com.
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