With his debut film being nominated for Best Feature Film at the inaugural Filmfare Awards for the Eastern Region in 2013, Kenny Basumatary is all set with his next release, which is a sequel to the film.
Kenny, who was pursuing his engineering course at IIT-Delhi quit his course after which he stood strong-willed to participate in a script writing workshop in Mumbai. He has been a part of various Bollywood movies like Mary Kom, Shanghai and Phata Poster Nikla Hero and finally made an impact through his debut directorial venture. The Assamese comedy was well received and was an instant hit in Northeast India. It was also screened across various cities like Delhi, Gurugram, Bangalore, Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai, which is a grand treat for a northeastern regional movie. Kenny further mentions that his sequel movie, Local KungFu 2 is an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors.
The real problem was that Besharam released two days early and removed LKF before we could even complete a full week. Assamese films are frequently bulldozed by Hindi films.
Q. You are an actor, director, a writer, cinematographer, producer and a news anchor. Also a martial artist & a musician and some more. Donning which hat gives you the most pleasure?
A. I hate having to do production work, I was a cinematographer only out of majboori, and I’m a martial artist only on screen. The skills I’m moderately confident about are writing, acting and directing.
Q. Local KungFu is an action comedy film, both action and comedy needs precise timing execution to work. As a debut director, why did you choose this subject and what was the purpose of creating LKF?
A. Because I’m lucky enough to have friends and family members skilled in both martial arts and comedy. This was a showreel for me as a director and an actor. Also, to create an entertaining, fun film.
Raag, which I acted in, had started picking up because of good word of mouth but was shunted out by Gunday.
Q. You had previous working experience of working in Bollywood, was it difficult to make a regional/Assamese film.
A. I didn’t really have much Bollywood experience before LKF, which was probably a good thing, otherwise, I might be stuck on wanting Bollywood-level cameras, lights, sets, what not.
Q. Was it difficult to get distributors in Assam?
A. It wasn’t really difficult to get a distributor. The real problem was that Besharam released two days early and removed LKF before we could even complete a full week. Assamese films are frequently bulldozed by Hindi films. Raag, which I acted in, had started picking up because of good word of mouth but was shunted out by Gunday.
…we need more theatres and no tax, and it would also help to have a transparent financing system.
Q. How did you promote the film?
A. Durlov Baruah saw the film and liked it enough to come on board as co-producer. His company Kuhipaat Communications stepped in and financed the release and publicity.
Q. Who inspired you and what is the kind of support you had from your family members in terms of your career?
A. The Hollywood blockbusters of the 90s were my biggest inspiration. Meeting future FTII direction graduate Kulendra Daulagupu on a train journey to Bombay was what showed me a concrete path towards those goals. I didn’t make it to FTII, but my parents would have supported me if I had. They gave me a budget of INR 100,000 with which I made Local Kung Fu.
There are some wonderful new voices emerging – Dhruva Bordoloi, Reema Borah and Bhaskar Hazarika.
Q. With a shoestring budget, what obstacles did you face?
A. I didn’t have a laptop, so we had to work on an ancient 256 MB RAM desktop while editing the dailies of the fights. I also had to learn everything from scratch – framing & composition, 3 point lighting, editing, colour grading etc – but that also meant I’ve learned the basics of most departments. The only real issue was co-coordinating people’s timings. With Rs 95,000/- budget, which includes Rs 58,000 for your camera and lenses, Rs 5000 for an audio mic, and the rest of the expenditure was in food, transport and actors.
Q. What is the best thing about regional Movies? What are your favourite regional films.
A. Getting to know local culture, quirks and traditions. Great examples – Thithi, Sairat, Fandry, Natrang, Elizabeth Ekadashi, Jigarthanda, Harishchandrachi Factory
Q. Name three contemporary Northeastern Actors and Directors who you appreciate and really love as artists.
A. Jahnu Barua. Bishnu Khargoria. Urmila Mahanta. And there’ll be quite a few more names that I’ll remember later.
Q. What according to you is happening in Assamese film industry or film industry in North East as a whole?
A. There are some wonderful new voices emerging – Dhruva Bordoloi, Reema Borah and Bhaskar Hazarika. But like I said, we need more theatres and no tax, and it would also help to have a transparent financing system.
Q. Northeast at present, roughly churns out 100 odd movies every year. Most filmmakers from the region complain about lack of resources, and that they fail to break even. How can the films from the region make more money?
A. More theatres. And no tax on North-Eastern films. And TV channels should pay proper amounts to films that they’ll be generating ad revenue from.
Q. Tell us some trivia/ fun facts about yourself.
A. I’m actually quite a boring person in real life. The funny stuff I do on screen is to compensate for that.
Q. Coming back to Local Kungfu, the sequel is releasing this year. How different is the sequel going to be? What all can we expect this time?
A. Apart from most of the actors, everything else is going to be different. The story is an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors. Utkal and I both have double roles, and we have some very talented new actors this time.