Movie Making Madness! At an Ashram?
INOX wanted to collaborate with Isha and screen a short interactive film that would help teach yoga to people at movie theaters. We wanted it to be fiction so that it could reach out to more people.
Fiction and yoga?!
We had never created any fiction so far. Our main task was to club our Isha Upa-Yoga practices, Sadhguru’s talks and include a fictitious script while making sure the film still remained engaging enough for the audience.
And an impossible deadline
We had only 3 weeks to create a one hour film! Even the most hardened film professionals would have been daunted. And here we were – all amateurs in an ashram. We just had days to ideate upon a concept, draft it, write the story and script and shoot the film. Our first script draft was our final script. The end of it left us with only two days to shoot.
Calling all actors
How do you find actors in an ashram? There was an ongoing 21-Day Hatha Yoga program happening and most of the Hatha Yoga teachers and ashram residents were busy volunteering for it. It was difficult to find actors who would fit the script and story and who would be able to give us two full days of their time to shoot the film. Luckily, things worked out and with a little improvization (like casting a Malaysian to play a Chinese person) we found our actors!
And how do you find makeup and wardrobe in an ashram?
Once again with our improvization skills, we put together props and looks for our actors. For, one of our characters was to be from a small town in India and we needed him to carry a prop that would complete his look. So we set out to hunt for a traditional lunch box – the trail led us to the security guard who very kindly lent us his 20-year old lunch box! For makeup, we managed to convince Tamar, who was attending the Bhava Spandana program and the only one we could find with a makeup kit, to take charge.
Shooting fast, shooting crazy!
The ashram was bustling with people because of the Hatha Yoga Program and finding quiet, scenic spots to shoot was becoming a daunting task. Unfortunately, one of the ashram’s most iconic spots, the massive Adiyogi statue, was under construction and we couldn’t shoot our scenes there. However, we managed to film scenes at the Home School, Spanda Hall, and Adiyogi Alayam.
Our best scene was the bullock cart scene (none of the actors) – but later we got to know that we cannot shoot any animal in the movie – to ensure no harm is done to animals. We weren’t aware at the start but decided to edit out the scene and steer far away from any censoring controversies!
Eventually the biggest tension was not finishing the movie but getting the censor certificate. Only 4 days before the movie screening we got the censorship cleared!
In two scenes the actors had to change their clothes and makeup. Venita, the director, would decide to shoot a specific scene so the actors would start running in search of a place to change their clothes. Tamar would have to work her magic with the hair and makeup in seconds only to hear Venita say that the particular scenes should be shot later! So the actors would run again, change their clothes, hairstyle -“Tamar, makeup!”
One of the most emotional scenes had to be shot at least 10 times even though the actor did a good job the first time itself! No fault of the actor, but of the surroundings. Whenever the director would say “Roll, Action” something in the background would happen: a car, a man walking by, one of our crew members stepping into the frame, too much wind, trucks passing by, you name it, we’ve shot it!
With our limited make-up kit we got a few hairbands for the actors. During the shooting the hairbands kept disappearing. In one of the scenes we ended up with no hairbands at all! Luckily enough one of the assistants had a hairband so we immediately pulled it off her hair and got ready for the shot!
In one of the scenes, one of the actors had to drink water from her bottle and we had to shoot the same scene from multiple angles. With only one camera, multiple angles and a lot of water to drink, finding a toilet was quite an issue!
But eventually it all came together. And just 21 days after we started with an idea we have a movie in the halls. Hope you enjoy ‘Life 70mm: The only way out is in’.