It was a few days after the Boards, when a group of tenth graders came visiting me. It is always a pleasure to talk to these students.As we sat down for a chat on their future plans and careers ,we came closer home.They were all appreciative of the beautiful aquarium space which had all varieties of fish .”Ma,m ,What next ?”popped Nimish .
As if waiting for someone to ask and feeling like n excited 6 year old waiting to share, I said ,”I want to have the Sulonian Films Division which makes short films with strong messages.The films should me made by students , for students and of students.(pardon me ,Mr. LIncoln for borrowing your words)The boys sat up, very enthusiastically . What kind of messages should we convey?I wanted students to take up issues that affect them during their growing -up years . It had to be themes beyond particular incidents, Schools, Boards ,Course of study or any media related matter.It should be about matters that adolescents in general face as a part of growing up. These are acceptable as “FUN and NATURAL” but can affect one ,if s/he is sensitive.These can not be shared with parents or teachers for the simple reason that they are “normal”. The discussion led to brainstorming of ideas.
We had a basket of ideas.When they asked me to pick up one ,I told them that the project will be theirs and only they had the right to choose but I advised them to take up one that touched them the most.They announced -” Ma’m, You are the Producer”,which subtly told me to keep away !!! They huddled together for another round of discussion and took up one closest to their heart.Done! I suggested that they have a team We planned to meet a week later with the students coming back a week later with the script ,which I had to” edit”.
Three days later , a group of 14 were in my office with the script . A few suggestions and cuts later ,given by a few teachers who volunteered support, they were ready with the final one . The artistes were decided upon by them and the logistics was worked on by the students themselves. I asked them if they needed support for cinematography ,they flatly denied saying,”Ma’m, we will manage”I only had to be the” clapper lady” for the Mahurat shot . How privileged was I !!!!
On the auspicious day , when the camera rolled , I was surprised beyond words . 5 cameramen(my little boys and girls)were all over the place.The building top ,short distance cameras for close -up ,, long distance cameras for long shots other cameras to shoot from different angles,….. the Works!! Many times I caught up with them during the shoot because I was concerned about them handling electricals , SLRs,climbing ladders etc, all by themselves. They always assured me ,”Ma’m,please don’t worry .We will take care of each other” The film making had begun in all earnestness. A week later , they were back in my office on a Saturday ,with the first cut.I could not believe my eyes .Scripting, Sound recording, cinematography,Background Score,Lyrics,Music, Light effects, Dubbing and Editing ..all by themselves.What they did not not know , they researched , spoke to experts but did it on their own .
One Sunday morning ,I sprung out of my bed , having noticed a mail from Sparsh. He probably had sent it to me at midnight.It was the trailer of the movie.I screamed in delight.We met up the next morning to have a complete screening.As a critic , I gave them a review , discussed where they needed to add the punch or the finesse.In the whole process , I saw seriousness in their project and eye for detailing. Two days later, they were ready with the final script , happy about using the vacation well and satisfied with the final product. .
I invited the cast and crew over to see the reaction of the audience , when I had a special screening for teachers and students of the current batch of Std X.As the the first shot rolled – Sulonia Films Division presents- CHRYSALIS , the teachers and students it greeted with a thunderous applause, that reverberated along the corridors of the school ,followed by pin-drop silence for the next 15 minutes . Expressions of the audience spoke it all – open mouthed ,forward body position ,in awe and wonder …till the credits came by . And the kodak moment happened .. The teachers and students gave the cast and crew a standing ovation amidst a deafening applause. Unbelievable but exciting!!
My creative team was so excited as I went on to introduce them. A spectacular response to an outstanding project . I used the movie to discuss the theme getting very positive open resolutions made. The same day ,I screened it for Std IX .They were so inspired that the “naughty ones” actually met me up wanting to make the next movie on a mischief that they had done.They wanted to correct themselves. The ideas are being worked on The spirit is on the high…
The mission to make learning fun,meaningful and relevant continues .The purpose is not only to experience the joy of creativity,trying something new , receiving appreciation but also to be able to introspect What we perceive as problems, arise out of our own creation so, we are better equipped to find solutions too.
Using films to drive home a message has always been the purpose of good cinema but for me ,it was a dream ,that brought CHRYSALIS so close to my heart because my students created it. They lived the dream . My dear dream weavers, Thank you for dreaming with me You INSPIRE and you spread MAGIC.