Shwetaabh Singh, producer of Aise Hee and Eeb Allay Ooo, talks about how he steers clear of formulaic filmmaking
Two independent films have created a buzz in the film festival circuit this season. Aise Hee received a Special Jury Mention at the Busan International Film Festival. It was also awarded the Film Critics Guild Award at MAMI. The other film, Eeb Allay Ooo, won the Golden Gateway Award for the Best Film and Young Critics Award — both at MAMI. The link between the two films is producer Shwetaabh Singh. Twenty-nine-year-old Shwetaabh, an alumnus of Film and Television Institute of India, is a debutant producer.
Both the films deal with the subject of evolving cities but the plots and execution are different. Talking about what drew him to these projects, he says, “I knew both the directors of the films from my college. I trusted these guys because they have a vision. And for me, it’s not the content but the treatment that matters. We did not want to follow the Bollywood ‘formula.’ This drew me to the two projects.”
Of them, Aise Hee, directed by Kislay, premiered at the Busan International Film Festival under the New Currents competition section. It is the story of an old lady who has lost her husband and is trying to explore life on her own, while her family raises eyebrows over her choices. The film also has an underlying theme of how the cityscape and lifestyle of small town Indian families is changing. Eeb Allay Ooo directed by Prateek Vats, showcases the lives of Bihari migrant labourers in Delhi who are hired to shoo monkeys away.
“The films try to understand the concept of development, through questions such as: What is development? Who are the people contributing to the development? What is happening to their lives and the lives of women?” explains the producer. Both the films have made a mark with the treatment of the subject. Shwetaabh, along with the directors, has ensured audiences are hooked to their approach of filmmaking. “Good cinema doesn’t answer questions, but reflects and raises them,” he concludes.