Celebrating the stories of India!
Noted filmmaker Bharatbala's 'Virtual Bharat' is a composition of immersive untold human stories crafted with breathtaking cinematic visuals, soaring music and sound, where every single film is a revelation, a magical exploration, of the spectacular diversity and richness of Indian culture. 'Virtual Bharat' brings together culture, content and technology - it is culture, on a cloud.
"Some tell me Indians don't find India cool anymore, some tell me that the India we loved is no more, some tell me we don't feel for India anymore, I don't have the answers to all that...I found plenty to be proud about. I found simple human stories that want to be told...that deserve to be told. I hope we will make them our own, one story at a time," the ace filmmaker said.
Virtual Bharat is envisioned as a gen-next idea - a virtual museum and repository of Indian culture, the likes of which the world has yet to see. The multilingual films are subtitled for all to access, while the under 10-minute length makes for easy viewing.
"In the past, about 22 years ago, I have done 'Vande Mataram', 'Jana Gana Mana', 'School Chale Hum' and 'Incredible India'… so I have been doing lots of films on India in bits and pieces… and in the last few years the content platform has become the 'in-thing' and then the democratisation of the internet, which has become an accessibility for people especially with 4G connections everywhere…I thought this is an opportune time to come up with a big idea and we decided to create uncovering, untold stories of India…"
Setting itself apart from the majority of digital content, 'Virtual Bharat' gives contemporary Indians a glimpse into the land to celebrate, to be proud of, story-by-story, emotion-by-emotion, and experience-by-experience
"The important thing is to find a story and make it cinematic. To make the story into a compelling narrative with the way we film, edit and sound design it… Indians are not used to non-fiction, so how do you attract them? If they find something with a cinematic appeal, they will watch it. We are keeping each of the films under 10 minutes. It is nice to watch an interesting movie in a few minutes. Our first film 'Thalam' just in a week reached five million views. If you keep pushing good content people will accept it," he said.
About making 1000 films he shared: "If I do only 10 films under 10 minutes nobody will watch them. They will watch some and leave it. But here is an opportunity where we can consistently bring good content. For the next five years, imagine every 10 days you are doling out a new film. And that is something which will relate to people and we are bringing stories from all parts of India in their original languages. After a point language does not matter you will still be able to connect with the stories."
The second film in the series is from Odisha about an Adivasi poet called Haldhar Nag. "It is a phenomenal film and I showed it to Gulzar saab. He loved it and he is introducing that film. There is another film called 'Baini Saheb'. It has been shot in Punjab and the story is about a village, where every child learns Hindustani classical music. That is a very beautiful picture again. And, Shreya Ghosal is introducing it as she loved that movie. The project is about telling general stories about India and make the stories heroes and celebrate them."
Bharatbala informed that he has already made 70 films in the series. "I have these films that will run for at least 8-9 months. We are making about 2-3 films a month. And we will continue to do so. We can make only two films a month because it is very heavy on research, and we are dealing with real people, not artists or actors. And I want every film to be a gem. It takes a lot of effort and time to make it happen. I have made five films and scrapped them because they were not according to our standards and they were not raising the bar. There is also a lot of r&d that goes on for each movie. Also, I am not shooting in a studio… I have to be there in the village which is in a remote place to make the film it is a humongous task but at the same time it is exciting because it truly gives a creative high," he shared.
"I am not making films as a Wikipedia search… Fortunately, over the years I have collected a lot of stories and we have researched 300 stories already; out of which we have made 70 till now and it is to find that inspiring angle to tell a compelling narrative. I am constantly thinking of stories," Bharatbala concluded.