How to make a successful low budget indie film

How many people do you need to make a film? 100..? 70..? 20..? 2..?

Two.. Well.. but how?

Kshay is an example of micro-budget film-making where the director Karan Gour collaborated with Cinematographer Abhinay Khoparzi and gave us this highly inspiring piece of cinema. Kshay showcases the psychology and obsession of a middle-class housewife for a statue of goddess Laxmi. The plot is simple yet effective because of the brilliant pre-production work. Now when I say pre-production, it is the hardcore planning and conception that goes on after finalizing the right script. For somebody who is making a film in just 4 lakh rupees, a lot of things have to fall in place to make sure it sees the light of the day.

A Still from Kshay (Director: Karan Gour)

It is a new kind of experimental cinema where the director has used quite a number of ingenious techniques. It is a break from the kind of stylized cinema we gorge on mostly. The film is mainly for the cinephiles who love engaging stories, novels, plays, write-ups, etc. It would remind you of Nolan’s Following and Doodlebug or Aronofsky’s Pi and some of David Lynch films. Few smart moves by the makers of Kshay are:

1)     They selected the black-and-white tone for the film which works both ways. Firstly, it depicts Chhaya’s (played by Rasika Dugal) psychological status where she doesn’t have colors in her life (she had a miscarriage, low finances). Also, the makers had very limited production budget (approx 1 lakh). A lot of money is saved in art direction and lighting (basically the frame). The opening scene where Arvind is talking to Bapu has flat walls behind but the black-white tone kind of reduces that flatness.

2)     In the film, Chhaya sells all the household stuff to procure the required 15000/- for the statue. Now that is a smart move by the makers as we don’t have to fill the foreground or background. It justifies the absence of having negligible scope for art direction or continuity. Well it augurs well for the shoestring budget.

The statue of Goddess Laxmi in the film

3)     A construction company hires Arvind. Finding an under-construction building is not a major issue. He is shown wearing the construction helmet and stands mostly in front of the building. It again excludes the need of intensive recce. 

4)    The entire climax shootout. Both the characters go inside the room (camera remains outside) and we see a flash of light with the sound of gunshot and then one of the characters come out with blood stains on his shirt- CUT TO- Chhaya mourning. It solves two purposes for the director. Not only it creates anticipation for the audience but also enables director to avoid headaches of vfx or fancy camera movements or in short, to save money, which is the underlined objective of any indie filmmaker. Hats off to this approach !!

5)     We all know how talented Rasika Dugal is so the director has tried to give her maximum screen time, not forcibly or disjointedly, but has created her demand through the story and narrative. The story is about her (character of Chhaya) so most of the shots are close-ups/mid close-ups in contrast to wide shots as there is not much to show around or to fill the frame. Quite intelligently so..

Rasika Dugal as Chhaya

6)     Since both the lead characters (couple) are going through a financial crisis, it automatically rationalizes their current situation in the story. It allows to minimize fancy clothes, accessories, lights, furniture paraphernalia, etc, thereby keeping a check, once again, on budget.

7)    Four main locations used are Bapu’s office, the statue shop, the rented apartment (around 80% film has been shot here) and the construction site. Also there is a fifth location i.e. Chhaya’s sub-conscious, which mostly appears to have been shot inside the apartment only. The director leaves us mostly with Chhaya and her sub-conscious so the maximum film happens to be inside her rented apartment and we don’t even realize for how long she had been there.

8)     The camerawork needs a special mention for carefully using slow-motion and POV shots, that makes us seamlessly enter and exit Chhaya’s subconscious. A stone hits her in the opening sequence (nicely edited to show its POV). Goddess Laxmi’s POV is shown as if she is also obsessed with Chhaya. Or is it Chhaya’s perception of Goddess looking at her, we can only discuss.

CONCLUSION:

In conclusion, the film was released way back in 2011. It got released only on four screens i.e. 2 in Mumbai and 1 each in Delhi and Gurgaon. Amazon Prime currently is showcasing the film. For people who love cinema and appreciate good content, it is a must watch !!

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