Nominated for the Hollywood International Independent documentary awards, Short Cinefest and AAB international film festival, Sparsh- Leprosy Mission directed by Gaurang Bhat is creating waves across the festival circuit. The film which highlights the stigma faced by lepers post India being declared as a Leprosy free nation in 2005, has struck a chord with viewers.
UrbanAsian got a chance to interview the director and cinematographer, Gaurang Bhat where he spoke about his documentary film Sparsh- A Leprosy Mission and about the social issues.
Read all about it here:
- How did you come up with the idea for SPARSH – LEPROSY A MISSION?
I was on a break for 2 months in India and I was looking for my next project. My mother told me about this NGO that she’d been donating to, she told me about the Leprosy patients and I had a very fate idea for what Leprosy was at that moment. I started researching and lots of articles came up. I thought that maybe there is something here, something interesting, so I called up the NGO. I had a meeting with them. While I was talking with them, we had fun. It was so much more about leprosy and the kind of stigma sticks around it and lot of other details about like how it was declared eliminated in 2005 but, that was actually not the case. So I thought there’s a story here to be told. With the patients, there were a lot of research about it. Then we plan on shooting it.
- Any memorable moment while shooting SPARSH – LEPROSY A MISSION?
The most memorable moment was the last day of shoot and we were all discussing about this last day of interviews. Some of the social workers at the NGO had planned a play for all the leprosy patients over there, so that they can relate to the problem that is there in the whole society, because people just don’t come forward. When it comes to Leprosy, people also want other things, other diseases on their reports rather than it having the word Leprosy. Those kind of things are pretty mind boggling in a way. You think like that kind of stuff still exists. And that’s what scares me a lot. But the play was really well done. We also have a small snippet of the play in our documentary.
- What was the most difficult part in making SPARSH – LEPROSY A MISSION?
The most difficult part of making Leprosy A Mission was convincing grass root village people to talk on camera or even like other government officials to talk on camera because they all get scared about it, because they would do their jobs or something. So, it was pretty hard in that sense of making it.
- What was the best compliment you have got for SPARSH – LEPROSY A MISSION?
Best compliment was, ‘Lot of people make different documentaries on different things, but it’s good that you take up a social issue. That’s really good, doing something for Leprosy patients.’
That made me feel really good about what we were doing.
- Do you feel like making more film pertaining to social issues?
Yes ofcourse! I would love to make films on social issues. But, I don’t want something to be like force fed, it really needs to come naturally out there rather than being a forced one. Like someone comes to me and say, “There’s this issue going on and let’s make a film on that.” Shouldn’t be like that. It should come more natural because then it’s more personal to you rather than it being just something you put out there.
- You are known for your works as a cinematographer, director, and writer – do you regard yourself as a Jack of all trades & master of all?
I do not consider myself as a jack of trades, not at all. I’ll just keep learning all my life. You’ll never be a master of everything, you’ll always keep learning. That’s what I would say.
- Which do you prefer – writing, directing or cinematography?
Well, all three aspects like writing, directing or cinematography, all that are different aspects of films. I wouldn’t say that I prefer just one, I prefer all. It all depends on the project. Something that is only coming from my heart. Like, if I need to do this project, I’ll do it.
- Do you plan your career?
No, I mean you have to put a low planning into what you’re trying to do, to get where you want to. But at the same time, a lot of it depends on luck and chance. You just have to take the chance.
- What’s next?
I have some cool new projects coming out. But, it’s too soon to talk about it.