Film Producer Karan Shah on the Journey for Silence that is Namdev Bhau
American audiences are certainly more open than ever before to the idea of foreign films. While the US professional community has long admired offerings from other countries, it has taken the recent demand for entertainment at home to widen the appreciation of the average audience member, much to their benefit. Some of the most original and unique productions have been coming from India. One such film is Namdev Bhau: In Search of Silence, a story unlike anything created in America but yet one which resonates in its deep message.
Producer Karan Shah was early in his career in 2017 when he joined the team which created this contemplative film. He recalls that he wanted to be a part of making something which required a great deal from those involved, the type of production that would culminate in something truly special.
Namdev Bhau achieves this and communicates a tone which relates the isolation and the interconnectivity we all share whether we or not we seek it. Karan’s insight into the making of this meaningful film relates the incredible work that has been taking place for years in the Indian film industry and which is now available to audiences everywhere.
Following his tenure as an assistant director on the Amazon Prime series, Pushpavalli (winner of three Istanbul Film Awards-2020), Karan moved to Mumbai to seek out his next challenge. With his heart set on an Indie film and the demanding freedom it offered, Shah was recommended by Pushpavalli director Debbie Rao to Jugaad Motion Pictures for a spot on Namdev Bhau: In Search of Silence.
Eager to accept a producer role for the film, Shah relates, “I wanted to step out and work on an indie feature because I love indie cinema. I love the hustle that goes behind making the film with limited resources. Big studio films tend to have a lot of money and time to make their projects but they also have studio bosses on their head dictating what needs to be done and controlling the narrative. Indie films tend to have freedom of telling the story you want to as a creator/storyteller.”
The process of creating Namdev Bhau: In Search of Silence was unorthodox from the beginning. A real life Mumbai chauffer was cast in the title role of a man seeking to escape the constant cacophony of this major metropolitan city and seek the legendary “Silent Valley” which boasts of a naturally occurring phenomena with an almost zero decibel sound level. Along his arduous journey, the elderly man makes an unlikely travelling companion and learns more about himself and others than he planned.
Overcrowded locations throughout India were naturally demanding for an Independent film crew, as was creating the reality of the “Silent Valley” and the massive stone that announces its existence in the film. Manifesting and establishing the filming environment on and off screen are natural strengths of Karan and reasons for his importance in realizing the final version of this film. While he’s quite proud of it, he’s most hopeful that it will resonate with international audiences outside of India.
He relates, “This is almost like a slow-burn Indie film about a man trying to find silence. This is really cut off from the mainstream Bollywood or most mainstream Indian films that tend to have a lot of pace and plot in them. Audiences in US are a lot more privy to this kind of indie film and this pace. We knew we weren’t making this simply for an Indian audience but for audiences around the world.
While it may not have cultural parallels with US, I think the type of film will resonate. People who visit Mumbai tend to always complain about the noise and we always felt that we could be a connecting thread. We were showing how people within India also feel the same way often.”
Writer: Coleman Haan