Inspiring Content Creators from Odisha | Milaap

Inspiring Content Creators from Odisha

In August, I had taken leave to visit and collect the educational certificates of my post-graduation from my university in Bhubaneswar. At my university, there was quite a buzz about two former students who were making their presence felt by creating documentary movies. Sensing it to be a topic which could be used as blog content, I asked my professor, Shiv Shankar Das,  to help me get in touch with them. I was able to get an appointment with Avinash Pradhan, co-founder of ULB Films.

Avinash Pradhan, Co-Founder of ULB Films

The creation of ULB Films took place at our university campus when Avinash met his super senior Debasish Mohapatra. Avinash confides, "On my first meeting with him, I discovered we had similar interests and decided to keep in touch. Debasish was involved in some project during that time". Both of them wanted to work on a project which would reflect the local culture of Odisha. They finally settled on creating a documentary on the plight of Sambalpuri weavers who strive tirelessly to create the famous Sambalpuri sarees. Since Avinash is from Sambalpur, the subject was close to his heart. And thus began the journey of ULB Films.

The Young-Film Makers at Work

Though the journey had begun, it was however full of difficulties. The first of the many to come was the funding issue. "Since it was our first project and we didn't have any idea how much it would cost we decided to bear the expenses on our own", said Avinash. The village which they had chosen as their location was very remote and around 50 km away from the main city with no proper means of transportation to reach there. " We always received help from unexpected quarters", said the young filmmaker highlighting the cooperation given to them from the weavers as well as the local rickshaw drivers who guided them to the location.

"Sambalpuri Weavers" Getting Recognition Propelled ULB Films On Future Projects

The shooting of their first documentary movie titled " Sambalpuri Weavers" took 3 days. The duo was not sure about how the movie will be received and at times even doubted if they had made the right decision. However, soon their efforts were rewarded when their documentary was selected for screening at the 12th Tasveer South Asian Film Festival, the largest South Asian Film Festival in the USA, 2017, Bring your own film festival (BYOFF), Puri, Odisha, 2017 and also at Dadasaheb Phalke International Film Festival, Mumbai, 2019. It also won the best non-fiction documentary award at Spotlight Film Festival in  Bargarh Odisha.

Team of ULB Films- Debasish Mohapatra, Avinash Pradhan, Brajaraz Behera

Buoyed by the initial success, they started on their second project titled "One Screen Cinema" which delved upon the aspect of the closure of single-screen theatres. While researching this project, they came across several interesting facts as "Shree Sitaram Vilas Talkies (SSVT) established in 1927 at Berhampur, was the first cinema hall of Odisha". Their research also helped them understand the problem that persists in the Odiya Film industry. They received help from Film Heritage Foundation who uploaded the banner of their movie with a small synopsis on their official Facebook Page. This documentary was also selected for screening at Dadasaheb Phalke International Film Festival, Mumbai, 2019.

"Mountain Hockey" an upcoming documentary of ULB Films

Currently, they are working on several projects including one titled "Mountain Hockey" which interestingly is about female hockey players in a remote village in Sundargarh district in Odisha. "Through this documentary, we want to showcase the amount of talent which is untapped in rural India", said Avinash. When asked about their plans, the young artist smiled and said that he plans to create his infotainment channel. I wished him luck on his venture and left the meeting with certainty that we will come across more interesting documentaries from them in future.