Harshal Wadkar: Moments of silence
Pune-based amateur film-maker Harshal Wadkar, whose film 30-minute short fiction film Bicycle was screened at MIFF on the 29th and 30th January 2016, met the press at the MIFF-2016, Media Centre, today. Some clips of his film were shown, to set the tone.
Wadkar said he and a group of his friends had been making films as a hobby for many years now. In 2009, he did a Film Appreciation course at the National Film Archive of India (NFAI), which egged him on to make more meaningful films. Bicycle is his 13th independent film, and the first to make it to MIFF. It is based on a short story of noted Marathi writer Sh. Vyankatesh Madgulker, published in 1954. After watching a 45-minute dramatic adaptation, he was captivated with the idea, and started to shoot the story.
Initially it was set in the period of the original story, but he found it difficult to recreate and manage that era, so he set in present day. “I changed the body a bit, but I retained the soul,” he added. As the title suggests, Bicycle is about a bicycle, and the havoc it plays in the lives of three men, two youngsters and one teacher.
Asked about his shot division, he pointed out that his story moves from the point of view of his protagonist, and he uses empty montage quite deliberately. Getting candid, he admitted the influence of the American director, Martin Scorsese, who often uses a pause or deadly silence before dramatic scenes, like a murder. He called them “moments of silence”. He even confessed to shooting a cycle theft scene in the manner of Vittorio De Sica from the all-time classic, Bicycle Thief.
In a reply to another question, if film awareness had increased significantly in his native Pune, compared to other cities, since bodies like the Film and Television Institute of India and National Film Archieve of India Harshal said that there were a large number of short film festivals being held in Pune every year, many more than in earlier years. But finding exhibition outlets continues to be a million dollar question. Incidentally, he shared with media, satellite television broadcast rights of Bicycle had just been bought by a major Marathi channel, for a period of three years.
What next, he was asked? Is he going to go the feature film route? Harshal insisted that his roots were strong, and he does not contemplate deserting short film or documentary genre in the near future. But yes, he was launching a feature film, about two (girl) friends who get into a conspiracy to compromise on their ethics in order to pursue a career.