A Bollywood experience for Tanzanian filmmaker

Friday December 13 2019

The Bollywood experience availed Jane to

The Bollywood experience availed Jane to state-of-the-art film production equipment. Right: Jane notes a few takeaways on set. PHOTO | EDMUND ASAMOAH 

By Mpoki Thomson

Tell us your first reaction when your name was mentioned as the winner of the Bollywood internship program.

I was quite surprised, none of us was working towards any “prize” because we simply did not know they existed. It took a minute to register the idea of being sent off to Bollywood, I then became frightened and anxious. “Will I survive?” “Why did they choose me?” It was overwhelming.

After landing in Bollywood, what was your first impression?

The city of Mumbai feels just like some places in Dar Es Salaam, from the look to even the weather. My immediate and major challenge was the language barrier only with certain individuals in certain spaces, however, English is well spoken in most parts of the city so it wasn’t a chronic issue.

What was it like working with some of the most experienced people in the Indian film industry?

It was exciting! The industry is big, with set structures and methodologies that have been tried and tested over decades. These people know what they are doing! It was also quite intimidating, trying to catch up with all of the information being thrown at you from all ends. I found myself clinging to my notebook for the most part of my stay there, asking as many questions as I possibly could, everything was fascinating and/or new.


Any sharp contrasts between the Indian film industry and the industry in Tanzania?

Singleness of purpose - Most individuals and/or facilities are solely focused on specific areas of the industry, this allows them to specialize and perfect their craft at the highest level, allowing them to have the highest quality output possible. I believe it is not only in our country but in most parts of the world where film practitioners choose to wear several hats due to several reasons ranging from passion to budget constraints. In most cases this allows certain areas to be compromised because the individual is not committed to one specific aspect of the craft and instead stretches themselves thin across the project.

Cinema culture - The country has a strong cinema-going population, it has always been a part of their culture and this is why “theatrical release” is a strong part of their distribution plan. Unlike here, where the culture, as well as the facilities, need to be cultivated and built respectively.

Research - the amount of effort and methods that go into researching ideas and concepts at the scripting stage is one to be admired, research last between 6 months to 2 years depending on the size of the project. This could be why their stories are so addictive and can stand the test of time. I believe most projects within the country [Tanzania] do not last this long in the research stage, perhaps doing so may benefit us.

What about the similarities?

A production is a production, regardless of where you go. Shooting anything can be chaotic and frustrating which is a concept that crosses even oceans.

What was your major take from this experience?

To work as hard as possible while learning as much as I can therefore ultimately sharpening my talent to be the best in the industry. I have also learned that it is extremely important and refreshing to surround yourself with as many diverse, highly skilled and highly ambitious people as possible, you will grow in every conversation, meeting, and project.

How do you plan to make good use of what you learned from the internship program?

I plan on sharing the knowledge I have with anyone interested, it’s no fun swimming in a pool alone. I will work towards making sure what I have picked up is reflected in the work that I shall release in the near future. I would like to thank the MultiChoice Talent Factory, Nihilent Limited and 5th Dimension for making this possible.