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Local Kung Fu is an unabashed tribute to the Hong Kong-breed of comic Kung Fu films made so famous worldwide by Jackie Chan films. The only difference is, Kenny Basumatary has managed to complete this film, shot with a Canon 550D camera, with just Rs 95,000.

We have had other examples of ultra-low-budget films in India before, a most notable recent example being The Untitled Kartik Krishnan Project, but as one could see at the world premiere of LKF at the 12th Osian’s Cinefan Film Festival on Saturday, July 29, Basumatary’s film needs to be celebrated not only for this fact. Instead, this is a film that needs to be lauded for its true-blooded – VFX or cable-unassisted – martial arts action combined with locally-rooted comedy.

Basumatary is quite definitely a multi-talented person – he is a published author, an actor (seen in a small role in Dibakar Banerjee’s Shanghai recently), a martial arts exponent and now a director. And he not only uses his own talents but has also pooled his relatives’ and friends’ help and talent to make LKF. Like almost all low-budget – or “zero budget” as some of them claim to be – films, LKF is low in technical finish, but its spirit is what makes it a worthy watch.

Unlike the technology-assisted visually-stunning stunts we see in big-budget Hollywood and Indian mainstream films, LKF has real stunts executed by real Kung Fu experts and students. And it won’t be incorrect to say that it has some of the best realistic stunts we have seen in an Indian film in a long, long time. In fact, some of the action can easily be compared to the best of the best – except for the fact that they visually look a tad rough, simply because there is no artificial aid that usually helps stunts to be executed with finesse.

Basumatary has written in his blog how he managed to shoot the film in such a low budget – he bought the camera, and his cast & crew comprised his martial arts instructor uncle’s students and a host of relatives. But the amateur crew manages to do its job rather well in their first brush with movie making, and most of the actors etch out their characters quite admirably, especially when one takes into account the fact that the film’s tone and tenor is comedic with a big dose of martial arts.

What, however, might be missed by non-Assamese viewers of this Assamese movie, where the hero Charlie is played by Kenny himself, is the very local-flavoured – sometimes even Guwahati-specific – humour. At the Osian’s premiere, the good sprinkling of Assamese people in the early morning screening ensured that there was adequate response to the comic scenes, and this is a good indication that if this film is released in Assam with adequate publicity, it has a great potential to do well commercially. But then, that is also a plus point of the film – in that it captures the idiom of a fast-changing city rather well.

The director also deserves credit for subtly bringing out the fast-degrading moral quotient of a haphazardly-modernising city like Guwahati. Here, the villains are not really all-black villains. They are merely a reflection of the times when aimless youth are taking to the easy money culture. They try to get liquor shot licences by hook or by crook, extort money from small-time shopkeepers, and while away their time in street corners trying to learn the art of bullying. You don’t hate these villains but sometimes even start to like them. In fact, a very thin line divides the good and the bad in the film, and that’s what makes it look more realistic.

LKF is a roller coaster ride till its lasts, and despite its rough edges, should be applauded for its economy of making and vision of execution. It, along with films likeThe Untitled Kartik Krishnan Project, serves as a model of how a good film need not have big budgets only, though it goes without saying that with adequate funding, it would have looked much sleeker.


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?
Kenny: 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?
Kenny: 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?
Kenny: 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.
Kenny: 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


Facts of Deori

The Bor Deori is the most respected person in the village

Patorganya – undisclosed missing among Four Groups

Only the people of Dibongiya class can speak their own mother tongue

In 14th century A D. The Deoris were royal priests of The Chutiyas Kingdom

The Deoris are believed to have come to Sadiya before the first century

The Deori people believe in `Kundimama` which is the supreme power.

The Second Marriage in Deori Tribe is called "Suje Luguba"

The Deori Tribe of Assam came to India via Tibet and Burma

Each village of Deori people features a place of worship called ‘Deo-ghar'

The Deoris are divided into 24 clans.

The Deoris proudly introduce themselves as Jimo-Chhayan, meaning they are the children of the sun and the moon

Deori's use to make a Narbali (human sacrifice) in terms to win the war, battle and to prevent the villagers from the evil atmosphere like floods, drought etc. This practice make them pure owing to satisfy the supreme Goddess. Only the class of Patorganya people were eligible for sacrificing.

The Deoris women have no tradition to put sindur in their forehead as a mark of married women.

Deoris belonging to the Tengaponia sub clan do not take mutton or flesh of goat as it is forbidden according a legend clan.

The term "Deori" appears to be a later coinage derived from "Deva" which means a God.

Deori is a plain tribe of Assam, the worshipper of Kundimama (Kundi - Siva, Mama - Parvati)from ancient time maintaining their own custom and tradition.

According to 2001 census the total revenue villages of Deori in Assam are 133 and their population are 2,45,000.