Life has not been a bed of roses for Assamese filmmaker RATAN SIL SARMA. Hailing from Rangapara town in Sonit district of Assam, Sarma has had his share of struggles, before he became
a filmmaker and even after choosing to become one. The 38-year-old recently directed
Pepper Chicken which has been getting rave review by audiences and critics. The independent filmmaker, who shifted to Guwahati after graduation and worked in electronic media during
which he got attracted to movies, talks to SAURABH TANKHA about his life and more…
Pepper Chicken, which released on OTT platform, Shemaroo Me, is a thriller that narrates the tale of a car ride gone awry as a cab driver and his female passenger engage in a deadly game of cat and mouse. Who emerges victorious in this sinister chase forms the crux of the film. The Dipannita Sharma-starrer promises to keep you hooked with an engrossing plot and a mind-twisting ending.
With no filmi connection (Sarma’s father worked with the Railways and his mother is a homemaker), the man with a never-say-die attitude is now working on two projects – one is a dark comedy, the other a drama with the scripts of both the projects almost complete.
When did movies happen to you?
I was not born and brought up in an environment related to films but then I had been watching movies since childhood. I remember getting memerised by watching these larger-than-life characters but making films was something I never ever thought about. By watching and closely observing different genres of films, I learnt the nuances of making movies and the process of learning is still underway and will always be there.
Marksheet became the first crowd-funded movie in Assam. Even though it was an experimental project, Marksheet was a big success. I think it was the first movie to release digitally worldwide
Tell us about your first film, Marksheet and the experience during its making.
I made Marksheet, a child-oriented movie, in 2014. While making the movie, I faced numerous hurdles, the biggest obstacle one being the funds. As I was contemplating on how and what to do, three of my close friends suggested to start the movie by crowdfunding. I got a positive response and funds came in from India as also outside from countries like the US and Canada. Thereby, Marksheet became the first crowd-funded movie in Assam. Even though it was an experimental project, Marksheet was a big success. I think Marksheet was the first movie which released digitally worldwide.
There must be an interesting tale behind the name and the story of your latest movie, Pepper Chicken. Share it with our readers.
We were not sure regarding the title of the movie which finally was made as Pepper Chicken. There is an important element in the movie as the main character loves cooking and eating Pepper Chicken. There is, of course, a back story about the title of the movie – When I worked in Chandigarh, one of my friends and I went to the Press Club. Now this friend loved the Pepper Chicken there and said it was the most delicious one ever.
The love I saw in the eyes of my friend for the dish – Pepper Chicken – was incomparable. I’m not exaggerating but he must have analysed its taste, masalas and aroma for 40 minutes
Though I am a vegetarian, the love I saw in the eyes of my friend for the dish was incomparable. I’m not exaggerating but he must have analysed – the taste, the masalas and the aroma of the Pepper Chicken – for 40 minutes. All this was very interesting and I thought how a character with so much love and passion for a dish and food as a whole would be. This gave me the basic idea of the main character and the name of the movie.
How was that period of struggle and what were the learnings during that phase?
One has to go through loads of struggles if you happen to be an independent filmmaker. In the absence of a production house or other resources, it gets difficult. One needs to take every step cautiously. But then if you love what you do, struggles don’t matter much and over time, you overcome them.
Do you think OTT is the future of entertainment industry in India?
At present, OTT is a booming industry and is perceived as the next big thing in the field of entertainment. Earlier, we had only two windows – small screen and big screen. With OTT platform, one can reach lakhs and lakhs of people globally, via mobiles and laptops alone. It has been a gift to the independent filmmakers with which we can express our stories.
I have learnt so much by watching films of Martin Scorsese, Alfred Hitchcock, Jahnu Barua and Satyajit Ray. They all are my favourites.
Favourite actor or actress.
The list is a bit long – Mel Gibson, Joaquin Phoenix, Charlie Chaplin, Guru Dutta, Adil Hussain, Radhika Apt and Paoli Dam.