The film will be showcased at the ongoing Dharamshala International Film Festival
Ninety-one-year old Ousef Abraham was astonished to see himself on screen when he watched the documentary Chachan, A Day for the first time. Until then, he had no clue about this film, directed by his grandson Jain J Abraham, where he plays the central character. Says Jain, “I shot it during my visits to my hometown in Kerala while studying at Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute, Kolkata. My grandfather’s eyesight is weak. Many times, he did not see the camera. But when he spotted it, he became conscious. I had to edit out such footage.”
The documentary has now been selected for the Dharamshala International Film Festival, being held virtually. “This is my début film and such spaces are great to meet other filmmakers and engage in conversation on different aspects of filmmaking,” says the happy 28-year-old.
Jain J Abraham
Jain, known as JJ among friends, shot the footage over a year. Chachan means grandfather in Malayalam and his film revolves around the everyday life of Ousef, a farmer in a small-town called Pala. “He talks about politics, agriculture, and spirituality. He always has several questions about Kolkata. I wish to take him there someday,” says Jain. The film’s narrative is non-linear and observational. “The works of filmmakers like Jonas Mekas and Kazuhiro Soda inspire me. I always had the habit of capturing everything around me on camera. I had no idea that those shots of my grandfather would one day make a documentary.”
Jain received help from Priyanka Gaikwad, a friend in college for sound design and mixing. “I also got feedback from my teachers. As a fresher, the biggest hurdle was budget. I had to finish the film with ₹15,000. But it was a great learning experience. I got a better idea on how to merge audio and visuals to express the emotions that I have to convey,” he says.
Chachan, A Day was earlier screened at Kolkata People’s Film Festival and DMZ International Documentary Film Festival, South Korea. “I met Arundhati Roy during the screening at Kolkata and she liked my work. Such recognition gives me a boost to do more films.”
Currently, Jain is working on his next documentary, Stories from the Second Floor. “During the lockdown, I spent two months in a room on the second floor of a building in Goa. The film too is an observational piece with visuals from there.”
The festival is on till November 4. Visit https://online.diff.co.in/ for details.