Kshay (Corrode) 2012, a black and white independent feature film written and directed by Karan Gour, took four years to make with a crew of two.
Just two people?
Gour says, ‘It was me and Abhinay Khoparzi, the man behind the camera, visual effects and my second pair of hands, ears and eyes throughout this process. It was enormously difficult now that I think about it, and it wasn’t the actual making of the film which is hard, but the frustration that comes from financial and resource obstructions.’
Kshay more than made up for the obstacles it faced when it won the Grand Jury Prize at the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles, 2012. But that still did not ensure the film a decent release in Indian theatres.
It was released under PVR cinema’s Director’s Rare initiative, in which a film is showcased on an exhibiting platform and not a distribution one. Kshay got a couple of shows across the country before fading from view.
Fortunately, the film has now been resurrected on the digital platform.
Chhaya (played with a child-like naiveté by Rasika Dugal) is a housewife whose husband Arvind (Alekh Sangal) is struggling to support his family of two with a job that pays little. One day Chhaya happens to walk into a sculpture workshop where she finds an unfinished statue of the goddess Lakshmi and quickly becomes obsessed with it.
Chhaya's relationship with her husband suffers, and her life begins to fall apart because of her manic-depressive need to own the goddess of wealth through which she hopes to reform her own life.
With a low-budget, on-location shoot in Mumbai, the director tries to capture the sights and sounds of the natural setting where a newly-married couple from a low-income background eke out an existence. Shot in natural light and with no props, the film feels like a documentary but follows a psychological storyline that gets murkier with Chhaya’s descent into madness.
It is an experimental film – not so much in style, but through the ingenious shooting techniques the director adopts, working within his limitations both in terms of budget and aesthetics. And the two are never mutually exclusive.
Gour says he is happy with the film being available on digital platforms as that’s the way to go. ‘With Netflix and Amazon coming to India we are looking at independent films finding an audience outside of limited theatre release where even a few shows are hard to come by. Kshay was fortunate to recover costs from the award money it won at festivals but this might not be the scenario for everyone.’
Kshay could be setting a new example in how ultra-low-budget indie films can be made. You can watch it here.