An Interview with Kenny Basumatary- Local Kung Fu [Film]

Director Kenny Basumatary talks to IndiEarth about his directorial debut Local Kung Fu:

IndiEarth: How did the idea of your directorial debut Local Kung Fu occur to you? How long is the film?
Over the first 2-3 years in the Mumbai film industry, I realized that no one would lend me a few crores to make a film. Who was I, after all? I wasn’t a VVIP’s son and I certainly didn’t have huge biceps and six pack abs. Before and during this period, my friends and I had made quite a few short films and fight videos, thanks to which we became competent at the basics of fight choreography, shooting and editing.

The itch to make a film turned into a full-brown scratch when a person with subpar skill levels approached my uncle, a martial arts teacher, to help choreograph the fights in a martial arts film he was making. That was the last straw and we said that does it! No more waiting! We’ll make a film on our bloody own. We already had the talent pool in place: my uncle’s two decades of martial arts students and some very good actors among my family and friends. The DSLR revolution also came about just in time. So we got hold of a Canon 550D, a Rode VideoMic and some fighting gear, and got started. The final cut of the film is 92 min. We’ll probably include a full 110 min cut on the DVD in future.

IndiEarth: On a shoe-string budget, and the set-up in NE, what were the difficulties/ challenges you faced while filming?
The only major difficulty was scheduling. Everyone was acting practically for free, so obviously I could get hold of them only during their free time. Our main villain Utkal is a sports teacher, so he was free after 3 PM. The hero’s cousin Johnny lived in a hostel and used to come to Guwahati on weekends, Ronnie had drum classes on alternate days etc etc. So we had to co-ordinate all this and shoot whichever scene was possible with whichever actors were available.

Ideally, I would have liked to hire a professional camera person, but the nonexistent budget and the haywire schedule simply didn’t allow it, hence we made quite a few technical and artistic mistakes in the first few weeks. But thanks to the internet, we learned and made course corrections as we went along. As for being set in the NE, that didn’t really matter at all. If anything, it was easier to shoot undisturbed in open spaces and public places, which would be very difficult in a metro like Mumbai.

IndiEarth: Who are you influences in terms of film making and style?
There are many directors I devotedly admire – David Fincher, Nolan, Jae-Hyung Kwak, Clint Eastwood, Bong Joon Ho, James Cameron, Dibakar Banerjee, Anurag Kashyap, Shimit Amin. For Local Kung Fu, I wanted to emulate the energy and fun of Jackie Chan and Stephen Chow films. Action-wise, Tony Jaa’s and Scott Adkins’ fights. And quite a bit of stylistic influences in terms of shot-taking and drama come from Isaac Florentine’s Undisputed III and II.IndiEarth: You have published a novel recently. Kindly tell us more about it.
Kenny:The novel, Chocolate Guitar Momos, is a musical romantic comedy which I had originally written as a zero-budget script, intending to make the film myself. But thankfully, the novel version got accepted and published by Westland, and it’s almost sold out its initial print run of 5000 copies, hitting #4 in The Economic Times list.

It’s the story of Joseph, a young guitarist, who decides to track down a girl who had smiled at him at a bus stop eight years ago. Unfortunately, he doesn’t even remember what she looked like; the only thing he remembers is that she was wearing a grey skirt.

IndiEarth: Please elaborate on your forthcoming projects.
Kenny: At the moment my top priority is a crime-drama-with-martial-arts script. Apart from that, there are 3-4 other possibilities, depending on which one I get a producer for first. One option is the Chocolate Guitar Momos film, for which a couple of big names are ready to act. Another is a rock band comedy, and a fourth is a story called Four Sisters, which is a dramedy about, well, four sisters growing up in a village in Assam. A couple of months ago, I also started writing a book about the journey of making Local Kung Fu – from no budget to World Premiere at Osian’s Cinefan film festival alongside Gangs of Wasseypur.

IndiEarth: Your message to indie film makers and artistes from North East and all over the world.
Boring films give indie films a bad name. On a serious note, I really don’t think I’m qualified to dispense advice ha ha. I’ve only made one film, and when I look back, I sometimes wonder how the hell I did it.
Watch  Local Kung Fu Trailer HERE


IndiEarth is an online B2B platform that connects India’s non-mainstream independent Musicians and Filmmakers to worldwide Media. The platform features a blog, offers value-added services and wider opportunity networks through its partnerships. IndiEarth is an EarthSync Initiative.

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