The second part in the two-part series based on the film - Naya Pata by Pawan. K. Shrivastava which takes forward the conversation on Migration and Displacement.
I was born in a town in the Chhapra district of Bihar. Numerous industries had set up their factories here and were thriving. The best way to describe my hometown would be to call it a bustling industrial hub. It was very cosmopolitan in its essence; with people from all parts of the country residing there. The standard of living of the people here was indeed very high. I attended a Montessori school and I remember the kids always having the best of school supplies. And then suddenly the bubble burst and one by one the factories began pulling down their shutters. The tiffs between the trade unions had cost the inhabitants of Chhapra district dearly. From being a one-time flourishing town, it deteriorated and became barren. The ‘cool’ school accessories became lesser and finally stopped. When I grew up, I started noticing the magnitude of migration. Trains would be seen going from Bihar to Mumbai and Delhi, filled with people headed to a supposed better life. These were the ‘Up’ trains, always full of hopeful people. I used to wonder when the ‘Down’ trains would look like this. When would reverse migration become a reality? Migration is a very subjective issue. On which one cannot pass judgment easily. When students leave their hometown to go to an IIT or an IIM, it isn’t wrong. There, after all, cannot be an IIT or an IIM in every city. It is just the regular people who migrate to cities for a small time job – to be a food vendor or to ride an auto that should not be migrating. There are many aspects to migration and movies have been made on this topic in the past too but somehow, the intangible pain that a migrant experience has never been depicted.
When I was in Mumbai, I wrote a story and left it at that. I had titled it, Naya Pata. For a long time, I didn’t do anything about it. But then I felt as if the characters were pushing me, urging me to do something about the story. When I narrated the story to industry seniors, they told me that it lacked a plot and also a climax. But as I felt there is a plot in nothing as well, I stuck to the original story. I did not want to go by format. I admit I’m not very learned in the art of filmmaking but I know how to tell a story. So I started thinking in terms of a screenplay, and I only ever wrote when I went back home. I came back to Mumbai and though there was no support, in the beginning, people I studied filmmaking with, heard the story and agreed to come on board as part of the crew.
The talks soon moved to budgets. This was around the time I had heard of Onir who was crowdfunding his series ‘I Am’ series of films. I decided that should be the route for my movie as well.
So to start off, I borrowed 50,000 from my brother and went to Patna, to begin with, the filming. I sent a mail regarding crowdfunding to 150 people on my contacts which then reached 1500 people. As soon as we had the funds, we began with the auditions and the eventual making of the film. But the sailing was not as smooth as the shooting needed to be halted every 3-4 days when the funds would dry up. But soon some more money would come in and shooting would commence again. Once we were done the shooting, the post-production was taken care of due to another Good Samaritan.
Once the film was ready, I wanted to screen it, just to know the reactions. I approached India Habitat Center in New Delhi and once they had seen the film, they decided to screen it free of cost. The screening had more than 500 people present majority of who came from a film-related background. The response I got was very positive.
Shiladitya Bora of PVR Director’s Rare was there too and after the film, he said that the movie stayed with him throughout and asked me to meet him soon.
When we finally met, all Shiladitya said was, “Pawan, when do you want to release the film?” I didn’t know where the money to release the film was going to come from. But Naya Patta released on June 27th.