National Award winning filmmaker Anand Gandhi, founder of Memesys Culture Labs which recently launched a Virtual Reality (VR) app ElseVR channel, says constant advancement of technology helps filmmakers to take up various complex aspects of storytelling and bring them to the audience for an intuitive experience.
Asked about how VR technology will help filmmakers and media persons to capture incidents, Gandhi told IANS here: “If we look at the history of tools that have been invented and evolved — right from the cave painting to Renaissance art to photography, to black and white to 3D cinema; it always added to accumulated on the previous inventions to make the experience more visceral and intuitive for the audience.
“And that technology allows filmmakers to translate really complex insight into an intuitive experience. So, using a new technology like VR certainly gives the audience a chance to grasp the more intimate and immediate situational experience.”
Considering the fact that the virtual reality films or videos offer a 360 degree view of any scene, according to Gandhi, “it gives a transparency to the audience and that is a very crucial factor in journalism”.
“Therefore, the power of judging any incident remains to the audience. Any reporter cannot hide anything or edit according to their wish. So yes, I think it is going to create an impact,” he said.
Having started its journey in November 2015, the channel ElseVR is ready with documentaries like “Submerged”, “Cast Is Not A Rumor”, “Right to Pray” and “When All Land is Lost, Do We Eat Coal?” They talk about various socio-political issues of the country.
Sharing the idea behind the initiative, Gandhi said: “The company started with the singular idea of using cutting-edge technology to tell urgent, yet overlooked stories. Now after more than a year of continuous work, we are ready with complete VR technology of sound, audio and videos. We are ready with six VR videos, including four documentaries.”
With an increasing number of smartphone users in India, the filmmaker is hopeful about the accessibility of VR films to common people.
Asked about the feasibility of making films in mainstream with this technology, Gandhi said: “Since it is a different medium, if we can build up cinema halls that do not have a 2D screen where we commonly watch films, but a VR headset and sitting arrangement for audience, then of course, a larger audience can go and watch them.”
Gandhi, whose claim to fame has been the National Award winning film “Ship of Theseus”, started his career as a dialogue writer with television serials like “Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi” and “Kahaani Ghar Ghar Kii”. However, he moved away from his television career and directed two short films “Right Here, Right Now” and “Continuum” before directing his first feature film “Ship of Theseus”.
Does the changing language of mainstream India cinema — which celebrates global culture, realism and gender equality impress him?
“I think it is not changing fast enough. It is not changing with the need of the time, soon enough. There is lots of misogyny, gender and human rights insensitivity in mainstream Indian films and that should go away really soon.”