Despite the obviously ‘cool’ images ‘indie’ conjures up – of the black and white, rebellious, unfiltered cigarette-and-guitar kind – it isn’t easy being an indie-anything in the land of the Khans. Filmmaker Sridhar Rangayan figured as much, while helping organise the third edition of Kashish in Mumbai, one of India’s most popular queer film festivals.
An LGBT festival in the home-ground of the Salmans and Shahrukhs, one that didn’t even demand a ticket from viewers – Rangayan and his team resorted to old fashioned crowd funding. They pooled in Rs 1 lakh from contributors.
“While the amount was not very huge, the enthusiasm shown by the LGBT community was amazing. It showed a community spirit in supporting a community initiative,” said Rangayan, who is now in the process of filming Breaking Free, a documentary on the LGBT movement in India, with crowd-funded resources. And this time he has sought professional help from two crowd-funding consultancies – Wishberry in India and Indiegogo in the US.
Srinivas Sunderrajan, bassist with the Mumbai-based metal group Scribe, on the other hand had completed filming most of Greater Elephant, which he describes as a ‘wicked assembly of those who still haven’t found what they’re looking for: a purpose’ when he approached Wishberry. Sunderrajen’s team was looking to crowdfound the theatrical release of the film – which would cost them close to Rs 6 lakh. Greater Elephant, after a sustained campaign designed by Wishberry, releases in Pune on 19 October at E-Square Talkies.
Wishberry, which most indie artists seem to be turning to, was founded by Anshulika Dubey and Priyanka Agarwal started off as a gifting ideas business in 2008. After some fundraising work they did, the duo decided to extend their technology and website to help fund creative projects of indie artists in music, films, theatre etc.
“It is a neglected sector and hence an untapped opportunity. Plus we were following the western crowdfunding web platforms such as Kickstarter.com, Crowdrise and Indiegogo and we felt this could be easily replicated in India, a country which is inundated with so much indie talent and less funding resources. Another case study we followed was Onir raising around 1 crore for his national award winning film I AM. That really was a benchmark case and showed us an underlying opportunity in opening crowdfunding for the indie artists,” says Dubey.
Wishberry, at present, is at the helm of funding 12 creative projects by independent artists in India like Mumbai Cha Raja by Manjit Singh, which was screened in the Toronto Film Festival alongside biggies like Gangs of Wasseypur. While the funding process doesn’t take off immediately, Wishberry helps identifying prospective investors specific to each project and helps pushing the projects to their notice. “Rs 1,000 is something that any average middle class youth spends on an evening out. If you help strike a chord with them, say if they pay that much, you can raise Rs 1 lakh by reaching out to hundred people – an amount which covers costs of a lot of aspects of an independent venture,” says Dubey.