Through Cinevidya, cinematographer-producer Amitabha Singh is trying to take filmmaking to children in all corners of India.
“Cinema is a very potent medium; a medium with mass reach as well as mass relevance. Aside from that, I feel that it is the medium of the young and the future. It allows the perfect blend of creativity and technology. That is the reason I want to bring this medium to children,” says Amitabha Singh, cinematographer, producer and the brain behind the initiative Cinevidya.
Amitabha started Cinevidya in 2016 with the aim of helping children express through this wonderful medium. With Cinevidya, he has been conducting filmmaking workshops as well as film festivals for children.
A Film and Television Institute of India(FTII) pass out, Amitabha has been working as a cinematographer and producer in the industry for over a decade. Known for his work in Khosla ka Ghosla and The Good Road, Amitabha has worked on different children’s films like Chillar Party and his directorial venture Shortcut Safari.
“I have worked with many child actors in my career. I could always see the kind of passion cinema ignited in them! Cinema does that to you- if you find your medium of expression in cinema, it captures your interest immediately. However, children aren’t exposed to this craft at all. You learn how to write, paint, and dance and to practice so many other art forms during school years, but the craft of filmmaking remains distant,” he says.
When asked if he wants to focus more on education through cinema, filmmaking or film appreciation, Amitabha laughs and makes it clear that he only wants to demystify cinema for children. He wishes to take the ‘awe’ factor out of it and make cinema, filmmaking in particular, easy for and accessible to children.
“We attach too much seriousness to cinema. I mean sure, the masters are masters and what they did and are doing is amazing. But that shouldn’t burden a child’s creativity. If you deal with cinema as a serious subject while teaching a 10-year-old, he or she might get petrified and feel that it’s too complicated for him or her. I don’t want that to happen,” he says.
Owing to his thought, Cinevidya’s three-day-long workshops are a mix of fun and learning. Over the course of these three days, children in the age group of 10-16 years watch films to understand the medium, are introduced to different aspects of filmmaking like screenwriting and editing and they also conceptualise and make a short film. “All of that in just three days?” I ask, incredulously!
“Well, I am not saying it’s a master’s degree course in three days,” laughs Amitabha. “The idea is to introduce children to filmmaking. We explain the basics and then let their creativity wander. What is important is for them to feel the need of expressing themselves through this medium. We are even open to conducting a 10-day workshop if the school or the institution allows us,” he says.
With film festivals, Amitabha wishes to take a bunch of finely curated films to children and hopes that these films will be able to bring about a positive change in all spheres of their lives.
In a country where good children’s cinema has become rare, a festival like Cinevidya would certainly be welcomed, he feels.
“If children are made aware of the brilliant content that is out there, they will become aware and accustomed to such fine content. As audience, they will demand such content and then the makers will have to provide for that demand,” he explains.
Amitabha wishes to cover over 30 cities, taking the series of film festivals and workshops to as many children as possible. He is currently trying to raise funds for his initiative and has taken the route of crowdfunding to try to find patrons who believe in his cause.
“I always believe that now is the time to start. I have this module and I know it has the potential to change lives of many children. I am positive I will be able to make my dream come true,” he concludes.