Interview with Ranu Ghosh – Quarter Number 4/11
Ranu Ghosh, cinematographer and director, has over 11 years of experience working with agencies such as BBC, National Geographic, the governments of West Bengal and of India, and with Marcel Odenbach amongst others. She focuses on issues involving the environment and politics. After putting in about 8 years of work on a film that sheds light on the changing landscape of Kolkata and how these changes are linked to politics, Ranu talks about Quarter Number 4/11 – her longest project yet.
IndiEarth: How did you come up with the idea of Quarter 4/11 as the story line?
Ranu: It was basically a part of the project I was working on, that showcased changes in the industrial landscape of Kolkata. I did a research on this topic and this documentary was a part of that research.
IndiEarth: Your motive was to protest corruption, and bring about social change. Why have you decided to do a documentary, instead of a mainstream feature film that could potentially have a wider reach?
Ranu: I really was amazed when I heard that one man was fighting staying back in that area. I could have done it in fiction which would have been easier. But in real time, these things are happening all around us, everyday. I focused on this documentary as my research project as I had all the documents. My focus remained on politics and corruption. For instance, the builders did not receive an objection certificate at the time of construction by the government. And so, they filled up a water body adjacent to the factory land and made it a high rising tower. Two out of four towers were on wet land. No time was given to settle the land. Residents began to protest after spending 2-3 crores only to own badly constructed flats. Apartment walls started to crack. I felt that this is a good case study. When I went to the factory, there were around 7000 workers most of whom were inadequately compensated. Such issues needed to be brought to light and challenged in its absolute rawest form.
IndiEarth: What were the challenges that you faced while filming this documentary?
Ranu: There were 2 challenges. One was from the court. The whole judiciary system is so slow and Shambu couldn’t continue with the court case due to lack of money. Another challenge was technical. Shambu was staying inside the construction area which was restricted. So, I handed over the camera to Shambu and taught him to shoot daily. Because they were more interesting in terms of camera work, I used Shambu’s shots in the beginning of the film.
IndiEarth: What is your take on independent film makers and their growth in India?
Ranu: In India independent or freelance film makers face many challenges and difficulties in making their own films. Lack of funding and tight budgets are common issues for a budding film maker. It is not like abroad. International markets have many funding bodies. They have channels which support and telecast these kinds of films. There are plenty of opportunities to pitch your ideas and get platforms to showcase your talent.
IndiEarth: When was the global premier for Quarter Number 4/11?
Ranu: It happened at the Busan International Film Festival. We also had a theatrical release in Korea, greeted by a positive applause. We are looking forward to the film’s release in Europe as well. It has been a challenging journey and I only hope our reach is far and wide.
IndiEarth: Tell us about your future projects.
Ranu: Now I am taking a break because 8 years is quite a long time. After Quarter 4/11 I began working on Indian Democracy- a film I am yet to finish. While filming on Indian Democracy, I shot in Kashmir and at the border. I have lots of material. So I might do something with that.
Watch trailer HERE