Ghorapak, Ojapali and More: Exploration of a Mechanical Engineer



Stories; narrated in any form-verbally, in movies or books; often take us to a different realm. We often find ourselves in a world that we never thought existed or perhaps was not meant for us. Such is the power of a story.

A Mechanical Engineer from Nalbari district of Assam, Chinmoy Barma, has made a beautiful attempt to give us a mystical story with his upcoming short-film- Ghorapak. Barma is a seasonal artist who loves exploring with various art forms. The teaser of the film has been doing rounds social media keeping the netizens in awe as to what is ‘Ghorapak’.
In a conversation with Chirasmrita Devi, Chinmoy Barma reveals more about Ghorapak, the story behind it and lot more.

How was the shift from engineering to film-making?

CB: It was never a shift, love for art was parallel. I have been associated with art since childhood- falling in love with painting at the age of 4, having written my manuscript for my horror novel at the age of 7,  it was always there. I have been running my art blog at The art form of film-making was introduced to me in 2014 when we participated in a spoof making competition and we won. It was love at first sight for me when I saw the audience cheering. It was the satisfaction of conveying the emotions successfully. Then we made FLIP, my first short film when I was in the second year of engineering. It was based on multiple personality disorder. The influence came from my favourite film FIGHT CLUB by my favourite director David Fincher. Then we went on to make XAATHOR, 7th Sin, which got official selection in 15-second horror short film festival. We made FIRQA PARASTI while I was working in Delhi in just 24 hours and “Morome Ringiaai” was my latest short film, now working on GHORAPAK.
All these went parallel with my other works as an Engineering student and later as the city lead and marketing executive. Even now, I have been preparing for something where I see myself in the coming 2 years.
I am someone who would cook multiple dishes in a single pan in an hour, without worrying about perfection. Because that’s not in our hands; but the efforts are.
So, people often have this notion that you cannot follow different dreams at the same time. I differ with that opinion. We just have one life. If I am getting the chance to live the same life in different perspectives, I won’t shy away.

Tell us about Ghorapak. How did you come up with the idea?

CB: Ghorapak is one of the most feared legend/ghost in Assamese folklore.’Ghora’ means horse. This ghost is part horse and part human. Ghorapak is mostly seen in the river banks, ponds and swampy areas at night. It is believed that, people who go fishing at night come across this ghost. Sometimes it changes to a fully human state and can also control humans. It knows everyone’s name. It loves to eat fish. It was introduced to me by my Jethi maa when I was about 3-4 years old. The purpose was to instil fear in me so that I finish my meal and go to sleep. And it would always work!
Last week, I gave her a call and talked about different legends and ghosts we used to talk about back then. Also, I have noticed that children nowadays are being deprived of the folklores of Assamese culture. I saw an opportunity to tell them this story through my film and to the other generations to go into reminiscence. Finally, we decided to work on this short film.



With a mystical figure like ghorapak weaved with the tunes of Ojapali, do you think your film will be able to revive the folklore and culture of the state?

CB: ‘Revive’ is a strong word here, It always has been there. I just feel it is getting slightly overshadowed with the other trends of today’s time. I try to make films that I always wanted to see. I would have loved if someone made this kind of film, so I decided to be the “someone” and do it myself. I do believe that movies have the power to influence people, so if the film can do a bit to inform and entertain people through Assamese traditional music and folklore, I will be more than happy. That is why I chose Ojapali, which will be an integral part of the story.  I have enjoyed Ojapali performances since my childhood, I want to use that experience in the film which will enhance the storytelling experience I believe.

The teaser has been widely appreciated. How do you plan to move on with the shooting amid the pandemic? What are the challenges you see in front of you?

CB: We are overwhelmed with the response we have got for the teaser. We were not ready for that. Many personalities from the industry started approaching. It felt good. Now we have more projects in our hands. We have almost finalized the casting for the film and we are ready with the script and team and looking for producers.
The pandemic, of course, has halted the shooting. We do not want to risk anyone’s lives by taking any foolish steps right now. We had shot a few scenes for the film which required very minimal crew. We will be out on the location as soon as the situation comes under control. We are valuing lives over anything else right now.

The pandemic has hit hard the entertainment industry. How do you think the industry can recover from the covid-induced damages?

CB: Yes, The pandemic has hit hard the entertainment industry.  But at the same time, it has brought an ample amount of opportunities for the aspiring independent filmmakers. The rise we are seeing for OTT platforms brings fresh opportunities for short films as well.
The film industry should get used to the new normal now. The production style should be changed too. When cinemas do open their doors again, it might be a very different experience from what we’re used to. So, the industry should get used to the new habit formation of the audience and work accordingly to their taste. The recovery will be gradual though.

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