National award for 'Bunkar' will spread awareness about Varanasi weavers, says director Satyaprakash
'Bunkar - The Last of the Varanasi Weavers', has won the Best Film (Arts and Culture) at the 66th National Film Awards.
The film is an attempt to awaken society to the reality of the life of a handloom weaver of Varanasi and the price he pays so that our Indian legacy lives for one more day. While celebrating the weaves of Varanasi and their creators, the hour-long documentary compels us to rethink the role each one of us can play in making a difference to their lives.
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'Bunkar' is Satyaprakash's debut as a director in the documentary space and even won him the Best Debut Director (Documentary) award at the Jaipur International Film Festival (JIFF 2019) earlier this year. After a decade long career in the Hindi film industry and assisting on various feature films, this is Satyaprakash's first attempt at independently directing a non-feature film.
In an exclusive interaction with DNA, director Satyaprakash Upadhyay shared his first reactions on winning the Best Film (Arts and Culture) National award.
How does it feel after winning the national award?
Satyaprakash: Winning is always special, and then when it is the highest award that an Indian filmmaker can get, it is a special feeling. I am humbled that our film has received this honor and also sensitive to the fact that it brings with it a lot of responsibility and expectations for the projects that we work on in the future.
Who do you feel deserves the credit for this win?
Satyaprakash: A film is all about teamwork, and any filmmaker will agree that a film is only as good as its team. We were lucky to have a passionate and committed team and the result is in front of you.
Having said that, the real heroes of this documentary are the handloom weavers of Varanasi and their incredible journey over the centuries that has allowed them to perfect their art and produce some of the best textiles known to mankind. Their struggle is a compelling story and I think anyone who hears it will be inspired by their relentless efforts to safeguard their art and strive for a life of dignity.
Will this help this art?
Satyaprakash: I truly believe that the problems plaguing these handloom weavers is a complex one, but somewhere at the very root of it lies the ignorance of the common man. A very large mass of consumers are not able to differentiate a Banarsi powerloom from a handloom, or even appreciate the art behind the handloom product, then how will things ever change? I believe that causes like these can be resolved with awareness alone. I am more than certain that any person who hears their story will be compelled to do what he/she can in whatever small way to bring change to their lives - and there lies the solution. The winning of an award of this magnitude for a film such as this is indeed heartening and it will hugely help push this discourse into the mainstream.
Future Plans? Satyaprakash: I am a strong believer that the purpose of cinema is not entertainment alone but to fuel constructive change and I hope that every project I take up lives up to that definition. That was my thought behind 'Bunkar' and that is my thought behind the next project I am working on. I am working on a Hindi feature film story titled 'Koopmandook' which stems from my want to bring about some positive change in society! It is a project very close to my heart and I hope to do complete justice to the subject on hand.
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