Siddharth Chauhan’s feature debut ‘Amar Colony’: between real and surreal : The Tribune India
Siddharth Chauhan’s short film “Papa” had won two prestigious awards – the 2017 Satyajit Ray Short Film Award at the London Indian Film Festival and Best Film at the 2016 Kerala International Documentary and Short Film Festival. in the narrative gesture and misunderstanding of human behavior,” the film spoke volumes about loneliness, delusions, fears, and intimacy. Yet, there was still a lot left unsaid, Siddharth said.
shorts to glory
- The Flying Chest
- catch the light
Struggling with his thoughts, he returned to the film and realized there was so much potential in the story – he wanted to play with the characters. He decided to redo the script and make it a feature film. It’s 2022 and ‘Papa’ has metamorphosed into ‘Amar Colony’. Siddharth’s feature debut will have its world premiere at the 26th Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival in Estonia (First Feature Films – In Competition) and Indian premiere at the Kerala International Film Festival next month. It was the first project by a local filmmaker from Himachal Pradesh to make it to the co-production market at NFDC Film Bazaar, a platform that exposes filmmakers to the market and producers.
Set in Shimla, “Amar Colony” is the story of a crippled widow demanding respect from her beloved pigeon. a pregnant woman caught in the maze of loneliness who finds her escape in a tomato; and a devotee of Lord Hanuman fights paranoia with a mace. Their lives intertwine at Amar Colony, a Shimla chawl. The concept of a chawl, with multiple families living in one building, is rare in Himachal, but Siddharth saw an uncanny resemblance to some British-era buildings, such as the US Club, in Shimla. “These places are upscale, no doubt, but feel like a chawl,” he says. The film was shot in one of these buildings in Jakhu, as well as other locations in and around Shimla.
The film oscillates between the surreal and the real. “A story that isn’t rooted in the real world wouldn’t have clicked with me. At the same time, I see magic and funny things in the most serious, monotonous things,” says Siddharth, who thinks “Much of how a story is perceived and how a scene comes to life depends on how a film is lit. In ‘Amar Colony’ the silences also speak and Siddharth often wonders if all needs to be said.” I take silence as a challenge and like to convey something to my audience without actions or words,” he says.
Incidentally, Shimla is where his films have so far been based. Born and raised in the city, he says, as far as movies go, he didn’t like the idea of moving to Mumbai. “I am very emotionally connected to the city. If I don’t make movies here, who will? he says. ‘Amar Colony’ has cast and crew not only from Shimla but also from Mumbai and Kerala. “A big reason I was able to do this was my producers. They believed in my vision,” he says. The film’s cinematographer is Modhura Palit, one of the few female cinematographers in India, and the music is by French composer Marc Marder.
Growing up with a dose of Bollywood, Siddharth was exposed to world cinema in Class XII. He realized how different storytelling could be and he knew that was the kind of movies he would love to do. “Most of our movies are made from a business perspective, but I can’t follow a romance or comedy model. In that process, the gear is defeated. He says it was a conscious process of do something different.”So while I still have to get by more than others, by taking freelance jobs, I’m able to make movies with my own money, in my own town,” says Siddharth.