Fr Carlos Luis SAC
Barkha Naik is a Raia-based actor known for her acting in Juze, a Konkani film directed by Miransha Naik. She is also a writer and filmmaker who became one of the top ten people to be selected from across the country for a programme titled Take Ten by Film Companion, a part of Netflix’s fund for creative equity. It aims at finding and funding sensational storytellers. Barkha had the opportunity to attend a 6-day filmmaking workshop by industry experts and received 7 lakhs to make her short film that dropped on YouTube titled Salt on 1st November 2022.
Successful as she is, she has not forgotten her roots. She says, “In Chowgule College, where I finished my 11th and 12th grade, I met the most amazing people in my life – Heramb Kirtany, Mukund Shinkre, Deep Sawant and Sharvil Raiturkar, who drew me to filmmaking.”
Barkha did not have any inclination to take up the art form professionally, but when at Fergusson College, Pune, where she graduated in political science, she tried her hand at filmmaking to test whether she was cut out for it. She had the opportunity to work with documentary filmmaker Anand Patwardhan on his documentary Vivek, which she agrees was much like a film school experience.
She pursued a master’s degree in filmmaking at the Film and TV School (FAMU) of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, a pursuit that was enabled by her ever-generous parents. Excitedly she states, “Now I’m here. Hoping to make many more films, and hopefully, at least some of them will be in Konkani.”
Funding Konkani films is difficult. So when she heard of the Film Companion selection, she was certainly overjoyed. She says, “It was like a dream come true. So this opportunity was almost unbelievable. I was going to be able to make my film exactly how I envisioned it with all the support I could hope for…Netflix is a huge platform and to see our film, Goan and in Konkani on their YouTube channel, is overwhelming. It’s an honour to have the Netflix “Ta-dum” at the end of my film, so early on in my career. I’m truly grateful to Netflix, Film Companion and their Take Ten programme for this opportunity.”
Salt is the fruit of superlative scriptwriting. It is based on a relationship that she has observed very closely. Films for her should make one feel fear, grief, joy, wonder, disgust and rage, not boredom. Barkha wants to leave a lasting impact on people and help them empathise with her characters and their choices. She elaborates, “I think films hold the power to put you in the shoes of all kinds of characters – ones that are like that old friend, those that are like that weird kid in class, those that we would never meet or interact with in real life. They allow us to view life through someone else’s perspective and that can be powerful.”
And Salt does not fail to do that. It offers us a different perspective. Barkha says, “I think we often speak about the pressure children face from their parents to behave in a certain way. But I don’t think people speak enough of the pressure parents may face in having to behave in a particular way to not offend their children or not be bad role models. I think as children we often fail to see our parents as romantic or sexual beings. And marriage may or may not fulfil all those needs. Loss, grief, pain and loneliness can be deeply painful emotions to experience without any support. I find this dynamic, and lack of understanding and support in parent-children relationships very interesting and hence the film.”
The film is incredibly shot by Abhiraj Rawale (who also shot Juze), bringing forth the awkward relationship of the father and son through a composition that reflects discomfort and a little bit of imbalance. The production designers Satyam and Riya made the spaces and the house suggest the gloom in their relationship, keeping in mind the colour palette. If you feel that the sound is rooted in Goa, then it is because of Aditya Chavan, the sound designer, who was all ears for all kinds of rain sounds in Goa.
Barkha admires filmmakers Neeraj Ghaywan, Chaitanya Tamhane, Pawel Pawliowski, Alfonso Cuaron, Ruben Östlund and Richard Linklater. She optimistically states, “I hope my films can have the sensitivity, maturity, and humour that their films do. Also, their craft is so polished and just mind-blowing!”
Barkha enjoys both acting and directing, but she believes that direction has far more power in influencing the overall film and is, therefore, something she enjoys doing. She is currently writing a feature film based in Goa. “I have been dreaming of writing this project for many, many years now, and I finally feel prepared to deliver. I hope I have the opportunity to make this film soon!”
She advises young filmmakers to plan their shots, lighting, tea breaks, etc, giving the example of her short film Salt. She says, “It was a 2-day shoot, and we tirelessly worked on it for 50 days. Respect the money, effort and time other people will put into realising your vision.”
(Carlos Luis is a priest belonging to the Society of the Catholic Apostolate (Pallottine) and is currently the mission secretary of the ABVM Province, Bangalore. He comments on literature and films that mirror life.)