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India takes world's first VR narrative docu 'Right to Pray' to TIFF!


Virtual Reality films seem to be the future of film-making and one Indian film-maker has already made us proud in the same.

'Right to Pray', a documentary film by filmmaker Khushboo Ranka, which is made the new medium of Virtual Reality (VR), has become one of the five VR films to be premiered at Toronto International Film Festival 2016 (TIFF).

The documentary film is the first VR film from India and is also one of the first VR narrative documentaries in the world.

Produced by Memesys Culture Lab, a cinema and new media studio founded by filmmaker Anand Gandhi, the film is part of the first batch of VR documentaries made in India. The VR experience will premiere next month at what has been described as the most important and influential film festival in the world.

"We want to use VR to help collapse the barrier of 'otherness' between the viewer and the audiences," says the Executive Producer of the VR film, Anand Gandhi, "because, after all, in a deeply interconnected world, there is no 'other'."

Despite a High Court directive upholding women's right to enter the sanctum sanctorum of Hindu temples, conservative forces were still obstructing women from entering the inner premises. A group of women activists decided to combat the regressive patriarchy and stormed into the inner chamber of the temple of Trimbakeshwar in Nashik, India, in April this year. Challenging the notion of the impurity of women, and an archaic 450-year-old tradition based on it, they were seeking to exercise their right to pray against the will of the system and the people.

"I felt certain that we just have to capture this historical moment in VR", says director of Right to Pray, Khushboo Ranka. "I am an atheist but I was drawn to this story, and I wondered why I cared if women were not being allowed in the sanctum sanctorum? I kept thinking about what was motivating these women. They wanted to touch, consecrate and author sacredness for themselves. And they were facing intense resistance from some very decent people. Is this where it all begins then? If "god" doesn't want to be touched by women, and prefers the "purity of men", it is only natural for people to follow suit and do the same in their own homes and families. After all, they are only human."

Right to Pray is the first of a series that Memesys plans to release as a part of its mixed reality magazine ElseVR. To be published online as a quarterly, the magazine will feature essays and stories powered by Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality, giving the viewers the ability to go inside the story. It will bring together the comprehensive quality of prose and the immediacy of film with the intimacy of VR. To this end, the magazine aims to bring together formidable filmmakers and writers.

Khushboo Ranka, who is also the Editor-in-chief of ElseVR, will have two of her films premiered at TIFF this year (a first for an Indian filmmaker) - 'Right to Pray' and the long-awaited non-fiction political thriller An Insignificant Man. Directed by Ranka and VinayShukla, 'An Insignificant Man' chronicles the spectacular rise of Arvind Kejriwal from a social activist to a controversial politician.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Wed, August 24 2016. 20:28 IST