Sometime last week, we came across this brilliant short documentary film on our social timelines. What got our attention was the way it looked and it’s subject- ‘motorcycling’. It was only later that we realised that this is a student degree film from the graduating batch of Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communication – UG, Pune. So we tracked down the folks behind it. Congratulated them on the lovely film they have made and asked them a few questions, cause we’re nerds like that. We spoke to Shweta Jangir (the Director) Kc Vlaine (the music director) and Aroonabha Ghose (DOP, Editor and Colourist)
AF: Tell us more about the team behind the film.
SJ: It was a really small team, mainly consisting of 3 people. The DOP, Editor and Colourist, Aroonabha Ghose, Sound designer Kc and myself. Not to forget, some additional help from friends who were very fascinated with the concept of the film. The whole team got along really well. I think that happens when you’re on the same wavelength as the others.. Well, also because all three of us were close friends way before the production of the film started. The team would flip out every time we went to someone’s workshop or garage and saw the machines standing there. They actually looked like they owned the place. Just like Yash Somaiya said in the interview, “they’re not just two wheels and a machine put together. They’re more than that. They’re human” and man, did they have their own personality. However, this film was never about specific motorcycles. It has always been about the experience of riding on two wheels, irrespective of the brand and type of machine. We chose not to discriminate.
Kc used to just be there with his earphones plugged in, ZOOM H4N in hand recording the motorcycles in full action, while Aroonabha tried to do justice to the curves of these gorgeous machines. The whole team was in their own zone and knew exactly what they were doing. It was beautiful. Honestly, I couldn’t have asked for a better team.
AF: How did you get in touch with the people you interviewed ?
SJ: Aroonabha knew Yash Somaiya personally and we had our very first meeting with him. It all started there. He then led us to people like Adil Darukhanawala and Varad More aka ‘Speedy’ who in turn shared his contacts with us, one of them being Baljeet (founding member of ‘Roadshakers’) and it went on. Getting in touch with these motorcyclists was the best part actually, since the motorcycling community is so strong and close knit, not only in India, but everywhere. You meet one person, they lead you to another and it goes on. And the stories never end. It amuses me. The whole process of meeting people and finalizing them for this documentary was an amazing experience. Mad stories, some of them. And it still hasn’t stopped. Even though the documentary is complete, we continue hearing about some beautiful stories from the people who share this same passion, from all across the country.
AF: How was the music if the film conceptualised?
KC: Bikers and biking is usually associated with badassery, machismo (not just the bike :P), and a certain bravery that often crosses the line into stupidity. However, upon meeting these people and hearing their stories, I realized there is also camaraderie, sacrifice, humility, and a pursuit of a very personal peace that drives them. It’s these underlying emotions that I tried to capture. The final track IS a bit badass and might seem like it’s about showing power (I’ve used a lot of engine revving in it). But if you look deeper, it is less about showing power and more about how bikers work together to achieve things, like the music their engine notes make together. To end, I’d like to mention one thing. Guitar solos and biking have one thing in common – it might seem like everyone just wants to be faster/better than the other, but it’s really about journeys – especially how journeys can change who you are, for the better, and forever.
AF: How did the idea of doing a documentary such as this germinate?
AG: Automobiles formed a big part of my childhood. I remember, back when I was 10, collecting little models of cars and motorcycles was all I ever did with my days. I’m sure most of the kids back then had similar hobbies since a computer was still a novelty at the time. However, that obsession, for me, has stuck on and grown stronger.
The film therefore, was an attempt to capture this obsession through other people’s words. The concept was easy to communicate to the director as she shares the same kind of love for travel. She was therefore able to empathize with the emotion as the two simply go hand in hand.
The next step in the conceptualization process, was to choose between cars and motorcycles. This one was fairly easy, because Pune is the undeclared hub for motorcycling in India, as Adil Jal Darukhanawala very explicitly pointed out in the film. This being said however, there are very few, if any, films that have documented this closely knit, yet, massive community in Pune. Therefore, It seemed like the perfect opportunity to do something we, along with many others based in this city feel strongly about.
AF: What did you shoot the documentary on? Tell us more about producing the film (assuming it was shot on a student budget)?
AG:The budget was never really a problem for us, mostly because the studio I was previously associated with (Rolling’stache Studios, Pune), promised to lend a helping hand in the production of this film by giving me access to all their equipment. This meant that I had a slider, two tripods, a flycam, a monopod, a video head and a Canon 7D along with a Sigma 30mm and a wide 10-22mm lens given to me for all the shoots.
Apart from that, we (Shweta and I) also own a Canon 600D and a 50 mm lens, which was used for all the slider shots you see in the film.
Therefore, the money we had kept aside for this film was spent on renting out lapel mics from Accord Equips (who were very supportive as some of the shoots started as early as 5am) and fuel for all the travelling we did in due course.