How Independent Films Guide Mainstream Cinema: Lessons for the Aspiring Filmmaker

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During one of my conversations with Vijay Yess, the founder of OpenSaysme theater group, He brought in a rather unique insight of how Independent films guide Mainstream Cinema. And the example he had was Karthik Subbharaj’s filmography. Now Karthik undeniably is one of the forerunners in mainstream cinema. Just rewind 4 years back, of how we used to see him as a wonder kid from short film circle, which actually represented independent thought. What happened in these 4 years? a lot independent thought have entered and become mainstream and the mainstream that was once 4 years ago is completely outdated.

The insight from Vijay was truly motivating, Infact it should give you a piece of clarity if are struggling as an Independent filmmaker.

Just look around How Vijay Sethupathi is revered today by the mainstream fans. Who would have thought the small time hero of Naduvula Kongam pakkatha kaanon will star in most of your recent films watched in theatres!

Now this is what I would like to point out. The belief, the very belief, that somehow in time, an average cinema goer in all likelihood would fall for your independent thought. Let me be clear. it is not a belief, it is a fact.

The theory is simple. Independent films are like a new invention. Not many would adopt it in the beginning, you will be right out seen as an outcast, but if you withstand the initial years, people are going to accept and adopt it. Soon you will become the talk of the town. You will become the mainstream until some other player enters and disrupt your fandom.

Anyways I was not completely sure of this and hence phoned up the director of the critically acclaimed LENS, Jayaprakash Radhakrishnan.

JP had a distinct view. He said, “Don’t think about mainstream, if you are an independent filmmaker. In fact it should come to you, you shouldn’t go behind it. To be precise, don’t go to producers and ask for a 1 crore budget. Producers will flock around for only 10-crore subjects. Such is the irony!”

And not surprisingly, Jayaprakash’s next film ‘The Mosquito Philosophy’ is truly independent. As the poster depicts, there were no retakes, not scripted, just 6-hour footage captured and edited into a full length feature film!

Jayaprakash insists, “If you are an independent filmmaker, then you have to be truly independent. You have to know how to get people to work for you. you have to have control even in production. The very idea of “Mosquito Philosophy” emerged because of lack of funds. It is all about a 6 hour un-staged continuous set of events that happened when three to four friends and their wives club and have a drinks party.

Now Let me ask you what is the bottom-line here?

The only challenge for an Independent filmmaker is Time and the temptation to run behind someone to produce. You are an independent filmmaker. Show it in action. Don’t depend on anyone. Your only purpose is to make films and at this time, we have to be happy that filmmaking is truly democratized. There are people who can do things for you at a very low cost, be it Cinematography, be it editing, then where do you think the problem is.  The only obstacle it seems to me is YOU.

I interviewed Sandeep Mohan, an independent filmmaker based out of bangalore. His films are quite popular. Have you heard about Hola Venky or Love Wrinkle-free or the more recent Shreelancer? . His interview is up next to read. Let us hear from all people how to continue to be independent and stream out of the ordinary!









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