The award-winning filmmaker, Wanphrang Diengdoh speaks a lot about the social compass that surrounds the indigenous Khasi community.
This is evident in his films and to some extent, his music as well. His straightforward declarations are so accurately understood, and his upcoming projects aim to hit peaks at the perilous journey of the current generation. As if that weren’t enough, Wanphrang’s films have always done the rounds of film festivals across the globe and he for himself has created a significant spot in the history of notable filmmakers from the region with his game-changing documentaries and films.
Q. What can you tell us about your feature film ‘Lorni’?
A. I’m working on a fiction film right now. It’s called ‘Lorni’, which is a Khasi term. I don’t think that there’s an equivalent for it in English. The closest appropriation would be the term called “flaneur”. It largely identifies the world that we live in right now. The character in the film is someone who is set here in Shillong and aspires to be a detective. He goes about investigating certain robberies which have taken place in Shillong. It also provides a commentary on the lives of people around. As the indigenous people, we’re stuck in this transition between modernity and tradition. Where do people like us fit in? How much of modernity should we embrace, at the cost of forgetting our indigenous identity? How much of our indigenous identity should we cling on to, and reject modernity? So these are the kind of issues that the film talks about.
Q. How did you conceptualise the film?
A. To immerse yourself in a space that’s completely unfamiliar allows you to reflect a lot in your head about what you want to address. So the premise or idea of the film actually came about then.
Q. What about your quest for financers?
A. Sometimes you will not find a producer and you have to work with certain monetary constraints. But the fact that you don’t have the freedom to create whatever you want also makes you more creative. You really have to figure out how to go about making this film of yours without burning a hole in your pocket. I don’t think that there’s one standard rule of how you’d go about pitching a film to a producer. I think that for me, I have been fortunate enough to make stories that have excited the people who are funding the films. Also, at the same time, it is able to reach a wide range of audiences.
Q. What about your experience with the film distribution process?
A. We distribute our own films. We try to create a network with other people to be able to distribute their films. In return, they distribute our films. The distribution process in filmmaking is another ball game altogether. The more your films are being viewed, the better the chances of visibility.
Q. Why do you make films?
A. The rush that you get from being able to tell these stories, that is what spurs me on and that is what keeps me going as far as my work is concerned.
Q. Is regional cinema growing?
A. One should make films, not only for people who live in that space but also for other audiences. It boils down to the accessibility of the films being made and the audience that they’re reaching.
Q. What do you do when you’re not making films?
A. When I’m done making a film, I switch off to doing music. It is a nice break. When I’m done making music, then I move on to filmmaking. This propels me to move further.
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