Chauranga, Classification & Crowdfunding

Interviewing Onir and Bikas Ranjan Mishra on movies and beyond



The poster of Chauranga!

The poster of Chauranga!

On the last day of the 11th Dubai International Film Festival, I finally got to meet one of the very few people I’ve always looked up to as one of the finest directors in the Indian Hindi-language film industry. Kicking off his career with what he calls a film based “on a family,” My Brother… Nikhil had a voice which only a rare other moviemakers at the time would give any film. Brutally honest and psychologically subversive, his career gave way to the genius that was I Am.

But it didn’t end there, and thus Chauranga (lit.: Four Colors) was made way for. Helmed by Bikas Ranjan Mishra in an impressive debut, with Onir stepping back simply as producer of the film, the movie was an extremely beautiful melange of the simplistic (in narrative) and the complex (in character structure).

Catching up with the two, we got to talk about a very diverse set of things – from Chauranga to I Am to Bikas’ own DearCinema.com, with a lot of rather introspective topics that we diverged into, this was an interview to remember.

To keep it real, I decided to keep back almost ninety percent of the interview – which is now broken down into three parts. Follow the below links to go through the interview’s whole course.

This part of the interview completely focusses on the film and how it was formed. I proceeded to handle the interview more like a calm chat on a normal day than with extremely fierce questions being consistently pelted out.

Onir, the producer of Chauranga

Onir, the producer of Chauranga

You’ve been a pretty strong name in the Indian Hindi language independent cinema industry, you know; you’ve had My Brother Nikhil, after which you’ve gone to a completely divergent road with films like Sorry Bhai!, and Bas Ek Pal, after which came I Am, which – if I’m not mistaken – was your first production under Anticlock Films-

Onir: No. Sorry Bhai! was also Anticlock Films. My Brother Nikhil was also our own production, but we had a different company name. it was, however, also produced totally under our company.

So Bas Ek Pal was kind of the-

O: -the only one which wasn’t.

What I was getting at is Chauranga is the first film you’ve just produced (and haven’t directed). What made you take this film up?

O: I think after completing four films in my journey of an independent filmmaker, I realized two things; one, you only end up making one film every two years – some there’s even more; sometimes I have a gap of as much as three to four years; it takes that much time, not only for the script to develop, but once you’ve made your film, you’ve to see it through, and travel with it. The entire experience sometimes takes a year or two to complete. At one point, we decided that we’d also want to start producing – with whatever little experience we’ve gained in the industry for so long – other independent or first-tine filmmakers, which – kind of – were in the same space as the find of films we’ve believed in, but, of course, would have their own signature styles. We were looking out for a project at that point, and that’s when I met Bikas at Locarno Screen Lab. Honestly speaking I hadn’t seen his short films or anything before; what really mattered was the script, the power of the script, and the realization that this is something one would want to be associated with; to see made. That was the starting point. It was then that we were trying to figure out how to get the finance et al. The first thing was that the script really made one feel strongly – it didn’t take two or three readings; it was just the first reading that gave me the immediate “yes”.

Which brings me to the next question. How does it feel being just the producer this time – it is easier?

O: No, I wouldn’t say that it’s easier, but – you know – I thought that maybe it would be difficult, because you’ve always been your producer and director. But I realized that, for me, becoming a producer was to get my space as a director. And I feel indie films also stand for independent thinking for the creator. I’ve always had that space, though both me and Sanjay [Suri] produced [movies] together. As a producer or actor Sanjay never intrudes into my space as a filmmaker. So that is something that one has learnt to accept and respect, so it was very clear that this was Bikas’s vision; its his baby. No producer can love a film as much as a director can. The producer gives it a certain support, but ultimately no one would love the film more than the creator; the director of the film. And I’ve always believed when I’ve made my films that I would like to make my mistakes and learn from them. Similarly, you cannot try to impose your vision – like, when I 19, I remember having and argument with my father. Because, you know, of course he was experienced, he’d led life and he wanted to tell you that – you know – this is the [mistake that you’re making]. And I remember telling him that, “You have led your life the way you’ve wanted and you have learnt through that, and I have to make my mistakes and learn through it. Don’t try to live your life through me. I can’t let you do that. I have to find my own.” And I think it’s exactly the same thing; the journey as a filmmaker for Bikas has to be his own – you know – I cannot, as a producer, intrude into his space, apart from being- like at home. The best support system is one that supports and doesn’t impose. And I feel that should be the role of a producer; to try and support a vision; you might have differences, but ultimately the vision has to be the director’s.

Which brings me to a question I hadn’t planned on asking, but it’s something that popped up in my head right now. A lot of these Hollywood productions have the first draft of a script, and then they go through these crazy rewrites and crazy changes of ideas, becoming a completely different film altogether. Now the directors – what they do at this point in time is they kind f [withdraw themselves from ] the film. But at a certain point in time you still have your name associated with it. Has it come to a point in time where you had to deal with this situation?

O: No, because fortunately I’ve never worked for someone, honestly speaking. Even when I did Bas Ek Pal, it was a choice I made. Actually, even there the entire production – it was one of my assistant directors; he wanted to become a producer, he wanted help – was actually my crew managed by me and Sanjay, it was just the name that went there. But for all practical means – in terms of cast; in terms of everything – it was done by us, so I’ve been spoilt in a way [chuckles], you know, though its been a different thing that i’ve never worked for someone else; I’ve worked for myself. An because I love (and for me the most precious thing is) my space – because I wanted to become a filmmaker not to try to fulfill someone else’s dream, or tailor-make what’s the most fashionable or trendy “project”. It is because i wanted to tell certain kind of films through which I grow as a person and as a filmmaker, and it could be anything. It could be different forms of cinema. It’s not that there has to be only one kind; you know, that would be boring. but it has to be my journey.

With a cast member of Chauranga - Bikas Mishra, director

With a cast member of Chauranga – Bikas Mishra, director

This is basically to the both of you, specifically with relation to the film. There’s a scene in the movie, which is basically the first scene to have foreshadowed the title and its meaning. Now obviously when we met before, the both of you were explaining the significance of the title of the film and what it means from both your points of view. Is that something you’d like to explain to the readers who’d be eager to watch the film, and what made you hit upon that scene?

Bikas Ranjan Mishra: Which scene-

Uh, the pen.

B: The pen… I think the title of the of the film came quite naturally. I didn’t plan it and I never had to think about the title; it came naturally to me while i wrote the first draft. During that entire process – though at times we kept thinking if we should have a different title; a more catchier one – somehow, we stuck to the title, because at multiple levels, we thought that this title would work. One very interesting interpretation that we had during the process, when we were pitching the film at different film markets, is the national flag of our country is tirangaa (or tricolored). But there’s always this hidden fourth color of our identity – the castes – and that’s what the film deals with. So it’s about that hidden national identity that derives itself from a really oppressive abuse-your-power system. That was one of the concepts that we had in the beginning. Also, Chauranga, very simply, captures the essence of the film. The film is about the caste system; the system of four castes, and the literal term for the caste system in Sanskrit is varna. And varna means caste as well as color. That’s why Chauranga. The pen [coincidentally having four different colors] also brings in the motif of the film, though it literally doesn’t capture these two things. [However], you know, the film deals with childhood, and I was deriving a lot from my own childhood. And I’ve always fancied that four-colored pen that only teachers had to evaluate your marksheets et al, because they had to put in different things in different colors. We weren’t allowed to use a pen till [the fifth or the sixth grade], but I’ve always wanted to have that pen. So that’s how the pen came into the film to begin with. And since this boy – who lives in a town in a hostel – has access to the pen, this is what he tries to give to [the lead protagonist] Santu when he’s angry, and has almost run away from home.

For me, I had a different fascination with the four-colored pen and that was to write with all the four colors at the same time. However, what I noticed – and that was so cool – was that Santu’s brother wrote his name with all colors.

B: Yes.

Which gave a rather deeper meaning to the whole scene – and I didn’t know the pen would go there [as a motif], and that’s something I personally wanted to acknowledge and appreciate, before I went to my next question.

B: That was a very interesting observation. You’re the first one who’s noticed this detail.

It was quite fascinating for me to notice a pen to have been used as a linchpin for the whole storyline and concept of the film. That was one of the things that stuck. But coming back: this, yet again, goes back to the both of you. Chauranga’s obviously had two screenings at the DIFF. Like I’ve previously casually asked the both of you, how were the respective crowds that watched the screenings, and how did you find the reaction toward the film?

B: The reaction was very encouraging. Last night (the 16th of December) we had our second screening. Usually in a festival what happens is that the first screening is the well-attended one, and during the second screening the crowd starts dwindling. But very interestingly, more people turned up for the second screening, one of the main reasons probably being the people who watched the film on the first day might have gone back and talked about the film to more people. That’s probably why there were more people. We almost had a packed house last night, and very interestingly, most of the audience stayed back for the Q&A. We had a fairly engaging question-and-answer session after the screening. People from different nationalities and cultural backgrounds had observations to make about the film; which made it quite a long one. That gives us courage that at some level, people can connect to your film, and though one of the questions that we’ve been dealing with is whether the movie is commercial or not, after every single screening if the audience tends to like the film and stays back after having watched the film to interact with us, there’s something working in favor of the film. That gives us hope that we’ll release the film commercially, and it work with the audiences, not only in India but in the other countries as well.

So are there plans to release the film publicly?

O: We should be able to release this in the first quarter of 2015.

That sounds fairly encouraging.

Click on the below accordions for parts II & III respectively.

This is where the whole deal went in many different directions. Since I tried keeping this interview as laid-back and go-with-the-flow as possible, we spoke on a host of things that did a complete U-Turn from the topic, although what we spoke on was interesting enough to keep. 

Since we’re a blog promoting movies – good, bad or ugly – and we’re wanting to be as supportive to non-mainstream cinema as possible, I’d really like it if (addressing Bikas) you threw some light upon the modest amount of readers we have on DearCinema.com.

B: I think we work towards the same goal. DearCinema is also a very small website dedicated to alternative, independent films in India. We’ve been around for the last eight years. When we started out, there wasn’t much buzz on Indian independent cinema. Gradually, however, it’s caught on. Apart from writing about – or recommending – films, what we have also tried for the past few years has been to bridge the gap – to create a sort of a platform between filmmakers, the people who are passionate about films, the aspirants and the audience. [sic] So, we try to create an interaction between filmmakers and the people who are in their initial journey of script development, or who are very passionate about writing their own script and making films, such that people spread across the country can learn from each others’ experiences. And that gives more momentum to independent film in the country. It shouldn’t be limited to only big cities, but people from other places and spaces also, [who can] have access to knowledge and experience, and can connect with each other and exchange their knowledge.

Onir, Juhi Chawla - I Am

During I Am

Kickstarter has become a very interesting phenomenon, but it wasn’t spoken about then. There were a lot of websites like IndieGoGo that had that capability and fame. Now all of this info brings me to the question I’m going to put on the table: I Am was a crowdfunded film, if I’m not mistaken. How did you come across the experience of putting all that together? Was it difficult? How do you feel about crowdfunding and what it can do for movies?

O: I think, honestly, in India we didn’t have access to either IndieGoGo or Kickstarter. Even now it doesn’t really work so much for Indian films, because the finance is based primarily outside India. Actually, neither did I know of those platforms when I started crowdfunding for I Am, and it was just this whole – you know – awareness that there are people constantly on Facebook asking questions on filmmaking; wanting to get associated, but at the same time feeling scared because of the non-transparency of the amounts – you know, they’re really huge – and I thought that okay, this is something that I really want to do. Each of [the stories] could have been a separate feature film, so I thought: okay, I want to make it. Rather than wait eternally, why don’t I think of a format. The format was [eventually] decided; it wasn’t that I said, “Oh, I imagined this film and then thought of the financing.” i thought of the format because I thought that let me raise the finance for each of the satires, because different people would identify with each of the stories differently. At the same time [I wanted to] create a link, because short stories don’t get released because they don’t have a market at all. So you link it, so that when you watch the film you’re watching a feature film, but made separately. I had this thing that I had to finish each story in six days [each]. I’d need exactly this much of money for each story. And I just put up a post on Facebook that “I want to make this film, and if you believe in this, you can give me money, or volunteer and work for the film.” The idea was there were people of course who identified with the subject, put in money; thee were people who – for whom it was an opportunity to get to work in a feature film; they weren’t getting paid, but they were getting – and there are so many students; so many people who just want to gain experience – so they were getting that exposure. And thirdly, you were also building an audience who felt that this is my film, and I’m going to champion the film. So it works in three levels: you raise finance, you create you create your cast and crew also through crowdsourcing – crowdfunding isn’t just money, it’s also people, because people are giving their time, which is also worth money – and you also create an active audience while doing that. The driving force was [thus] the need to make a film. i was not sure if it would be complete. my constant fear was what if it stopped midway? You are answerable to the people who want to see the film done; to be associated with a finished product, be proud of something. but if it does not happen, you’ve kind of let [them] down. It was stressful, also because in India, cinema is not considered to be under “Arts and Culture”; it’s under the ministry of Information and Broadcast, which means legally you’re not allowed to crowdfund. I got a letter from SEBI, and I was like I didn’t know. So, you know, you return back certain money, take it as a proprietor, pay almost 40% of what you raise, which is anyway so complex, in different forms of taxes, employ a CA, a lawyer; everyone. Ultimately, thus, it’s also very draining – you know, 50% of what you raise goes into all this – but at the end of it I had my film, and nothing can be more rewarding than that.

Absolutely.

O: But it’s not an easy process. You have to screen people who want to be attached. There are people who want to be attached for the wrong reasons; they’ll put in money and the next is, “Do you think I can get a role”, or, “Can I write this song?” So right from the beginning, you’ve to make it clear that no, those things-

-they’re not happening.

O: Right.

You stated in one of the interviews that you’d like to make a love story where cultural or religious differences were not the barrier. I don’t know what the exact words were, but you said that, “If I’m thinking of a lover story in which there’s a Hindu and a Muslim, the intercultural differences wouldn’t be a barrier, and the problems would be different.

O: I’ve honestly constantly believed in trying to do that. For example, i don’t know if you’ve seen Sorry Bhai!. In it, the female protagonist is Alia, but nowhere in it does it stand out that she’s – you know – there’s nothing about her which is “Muslim”. So religion didn’t feature in any of the problems. Neither did the parents – they had all kinds of objections to the marriage, but not religion. I feel that very often we’re constantly stereotyping people, and also not trying to normalize. Be it in terms of gender [or] sexuality – any og these things – we’re constantly stereotyping, and trying to bring forth the differences, and not normalizing them. Even in my next film, my central protagonist is Asfar; another character is Raina. So all of them have come from different backgrounds, but nowhere in the film are they going to either temples nor are they doing nama- they’re just people who could be – you know if you look at me I could be a Christian I could be a Muslim, I could be a Hindu. I don’t need to carry that baggage, and I think we need to start pushing religion to the space it actually belongs to – inside; in your soul. It’s not supposed to be dictating public norms. I like to do that. Someone asked me if My Brother… Nikhil was a “gay” film. i said, “It’s not a gay film. For me, it’s a film about a family. A person happens to be gay; doesn’t make that into a gay film. It is about people and their identities. You never call [a film] a straight film. why would you suddenly call it a gay film? People love to bracket […] and stereotype things, and I strongly believe in trying to take it away from those boxes.

I used to bracket films a lot. But I guess that happens due to the host of things that you grow up with. I never watched My Brother… Nikhil so far. I started off with Bas Ek Pal, and went with the flow. And while I didn’t think of it as a film on gays, I have to admit that I definitely thought it was a film conquering AIDS and societal differences conquering it.

O: I think it’s about a family. Would you call Anand a film about cancer?

True. But most people-

O: -yeah, because most people don’t talk about AIDs, and there’s such a stigma that it suddenly becomes an AIDS film. It doesn’t bother me if it gets labeled as “AIDS” or “gay” or anything, but for me as a filmmaker it’s not an AIDS film; it’s not a gay film. You know, it’s like saying that Chauranga is a caste film. It’s not; there’s so much more to the film.

Absolutely.

O: I feel that just like we bracket human beings constantly. I had this with one of my ADs (assistant directors). I asked him, “Where are you from?” He said, “I’m Muslim.” So I said, “Where are you from?” He said, “I’m Muslim.” So I said, “Did I ask you you religion? I was asking which part of the country you’re from.” So people have got this whole mindset off trying to-

-be bracketed.

O: Yeah. And also to do that to other people. That he’s gay, he’s that- why do you need all these definitions? You are a human being, you have relationships with people. It doesn’t matter who it is. It can change – you know, why you have to constantly fit in people into some brackets? I find that very wearisome.

But then existentially speaking it’s all about the desperation of trying to call something something-

O: -to feel secure.

To feel secure; exactly. The main point of all of this is people that people want to do this is because people feel they know something and that’s apparently better than not knowing something.

O: You know, unfortunately, knowledge is very often equated with power, and people who want power want that – and also there’s this whole thing of you-are-this. I’ve always been someone who’s not been insecure, so I don’t like bracketing other people into anything. I have walked out of parties where people are sitting together and – just for fun – would refer to [people of a certain kind] as something offensive. [sic]. Which is done. I’ll not sit and listen to that because I have friends like that, and I’ll not be party to anybody who will do that. Because you know, it starts with fun – about everything-

-and then it goes into a completely different direction.

O: it’s a stand, that I won’t be party to something like this, because that is what is creating the world that we are living in today. What seems fun is not funny.

Wow, we went off somewhere [laughs]!

[laughs] I never imagined we’d go there at all. But oh well!

 

Click on the below accordion for part III.

The interview came to its final third with topics like cultural comfort, equality in film types and the future of Onir and Bikas’ film journeys.

The poster of Chauranga!

The poster of Chauranga!

Alright Bikas, this is something I’ve wanted to ask you. Both of your films Dance of Ganesha and Chauranga – their concepts cater to a slightly more niche segment of a societal structure, or structure in India, subtextually or non-subtextually. Is it something you’re interested in or is there a chance of you getting into other genres/niches per se?

B: I’ve not planned it out that way, or this way – or anyway. Dance of Ganesha was my first short film and Chauranga is my first feature film. I’m still new [sic]. Certain ideas; they probably want their expression through me. So I’m not really making a conscious choice that I have to make a film about a village or deal with these kinds of issues. Honestly, Dance of Ganesha was about myself. It’s just that the idea – i saw the projection onto a place I actually come from; a place that I’m very much aware about. Dance of Ganesha was about a dancer, an artist, who is stuck in an automobile factory. And I felt the same way as this dancer. I always considered myself to be a writer; an artist, to an extent. but here, what i was doing was I was writing for television to earn my bread and butter. I almost felt like working in a factory. So, I saw my own projection on to this dancer in this village of traditional dancers whom I knew when I lived in that part of the country. So though it’s about a Chhau dancer – a tribal dancer – who has to work in an automobile factory to earn a living, it is, at the same time, about me. So, I think that’s a natural process; when you’re looking for subjects, you look inside and I think something that affects you very closely, that finds expression through your writing. Chairing also happens to be a similar example. After having gone through a very difficult personal journey, I was trying to figure out who I am; where you I come from, where do I get my stories from. I think, around that time I started thinking about the village. Then I came across this incident; this news report about a boy being killed. So everything came together. The story was not supposed to be set in my village. But since I knew that place, I took inspiration from the place I knew the most. Thus my village came int the picture; it became part of the story. It’s – uh – not a deliberate issue-hunting or story-hunting. But it’s something that comes from within, I guess. So I don’t know what the next project will be like. I don’t have a roadmap or a strategy. But ultimately it’s the stories which will affect others. If I had a choice, I’d have never thought to pitch Chauranga to Onir, because you know of a person by the kind of films he makes. i’d have never imagined that he’d support a film that’s not urban; not contemporary. Chairing is set somewhere far away from the place of My Brother… Nikhil. it’s very interesting; the way the films find people, the way they connect to the stories and the way the find support from the film.

You said that you took inspiration from your village. Is that where you shot?

B: No. We wanted to shoot it there. In fact we did a couple of scouts in Jharkhand – where my village is – and we met the chief minister. But there were major logistical issues, political instabilities and security issues. So it wouldn’t have been possible to shoot there due to these issues. What we did instead, was we shot on Bengal and Orissa. We made this choice purely for logistical reasons, and that worked pretty well for the film. The film very much looks like Jharkhand; it couldn’t have been in any way different.

So the production design must have been a bit of a pickle.

O: If you really go to the region – till very recently, the entire thing was Bengal. There’s a lot more things that bind than that don’t. So the cultures that you see in these states – even the languages – overlap; you know, the clothes, the food. Secondly, this is a story that could be in any village. So it’s not a this-happened-in-Jharkhand-one-day. It’s something that could have happened in Rajasthan; it could have happened in Maharashtra. The village gives it a certain character, but honestly, the story is identifiable with a lot of places in India. So I feel Bengal and Orissa made it merge into his vision much more easily because he has visualized it in that space. We tried different options, but logistically, and also what worked for Bikas most in terms of visual texture was this. Everything though was real locations, nothing was set up. so set design was actually what Bikas visualized and found and shot, rather than artificially making any changes. It had to be more organic. There wasn’t one single thing that was set up for the film.

Here’s a major jump in question: do any of you have an future projects? I understand there’s Shab (for Onir) that’s been going on for a while, but Bikas, is there anything planned?

The accolades Chauranga's collected this far!

The accolades Chauranga‘s collected this far!

B: I’m still writing – and I take a very, very long time to write something. There’s nothing I can state where something can happen very soon. I’m taking some time to go through the process; it’s been a hell of a lot of learning for me. I want to see through the entire process and I’d love to continue writing.

[to Onir] Would you like to tell our readers about Shab?

O: It’s a film that’s very close to me because it’s my first script, which I wrote in 2001. And I always believe that if you really love and want something, maybe it’s taking so long, but it’s happening. And maybe it’s for the better because it was a very complex script and over the last fourteen years I have evolved, the script has evolved. It’s set in four seasons; we’ve completed three seasons – summer, monsoon and autumn – and now January I’ll be shooting the last season, that’s winter. It’s intense. It’s layered. It has the backdrop of an intense love story. I’m excited, because for me it’s also interesting to see how the script has evolved. Because it’s my first script it’s also very close to me, so I’m working on that.

Wow, that’s a lot of perseverance.

O: Every time I finish a film I try and get back into it. And finally it’s happening.

That’s good, because the more popular thing that’s said about writing is that if something doesn’t face completion, move on and do something else.

O: No. I think I get very attached to the stories I want to tell. For me it’s always saying that, “I’ll come back. I won’t desert.”

That’s brilliant. It’s an inspiration to me personally as well.

Final question: is there anything that you’d like to tell not just our readers, but potential film enthusiasts who’d like to make films?

O: I think it’s – I would like more of them, because for me it’s an irony that a lot of young filmmakers who’ve also started making short films want to get into films and don’t watch independent or world cinema. but that’s one of the only spaces where unless you belong to a film family or unless you’re loaded with I don’t know how much money it’s a bit difficult to get in content in Indian cinema. And I feel that if you’re a true lover of cinema, the first act that you can do is actually going to theaters, paying to watch good cinema. Because when you become a filmmaker, you don’t want anybody to be only watching a film in YouTube. There is a difference between that and watching a film in a theatre. It’s primarily meant for that. So I feel, that in terms of film enthusiasts, the first thing would be is to support cinema. And in terms of audiences, I just wish that – in India there’s much more of a rise, awareness and acceptance of indie cinema than in Indians living across the world. So I feel that really looks forward to growing an audience outside India – the expat audience – who start to watch films made in India which are not just Bollywood and Tollywood.

That’s true. But this happens everywhere.

O: I feel that it’s not that a Happy New Year and a Chauranga need to compete. They have separate spaces, but they need those two separate spaces. The problem is with the distribution and the audiences, where there are four screens that can be taken for a Happy New Year, bu there’s one screen that needs to be kept for an independent film, which will find that much of an audience, provided that independent cinema doesn’t get killed by the system. Cooking a chicken biryani, for example, will cost you a certain amount of money; selling it will cost a certain amount of money. And if you’re making omelettes and bread it’s a different thing but both cost money. But why does something that costs a 100 rupees be priced the same as something that costs a 1000 rupees? It beats every logic. But tomorrow if you’re going out, and if you look at something that’s worth a 1000 rupees and something else worth a 100, and it will give you a different experience, then you’d probably do it. But at a thousand rupees [per film] it’s expensive to be watching both, and also – in a way – it doesn’t make sense, because one is promising certain things.

Also, the most dangerous aspect of the mall culture is that when you walk into a mall, the entire mall is wooing you to buy something; to have fun. It’s a fun place where you want to go home and relax. And it turns you into a very selfish individual. Films like this, on the other hand, are telling you that, “I think there’s something to think about.” And the whole concept that entertainment is guffaws and mindlessness is a new concept. The oldest form of theatre art and the most respected was tragedy. But it’s only recently that there’s been a craze that everything has to be entertaining. Thinking is entertaining. What is constantly being projected is that “We have such a difficult life, because we’re driving around in these fancy cars and shopping and all of that. After that do I have to go and watch a movie which makes me think? No I don’t.” Because it makes you feel uncomfortable.

That makes sense [more guffaws].

O: No, who wants to watch multiplex films? Only people who have a lavish lifestyle; even in India. You see all these youngsters getting money from home and they’re not struggling. And they constantly complain. Now suppose you go to a place like the village of Chauranga. You wonder, what are all these city people complaining about all the time? Difficult lives, stressful lives, these are such fancy words.

[to Bikas] Anything you’d like to say to the aspirants and the readers?

B: I meet quite some filmmakers nowadays. They have very definite ideas about what their films will be like. They have an idea that it’s going to be a multiplex film or that it’s going to be a festival film. They plan their timelines according to the Cannes Film Festival. Certain filmmakers want to make films that go to the Oscars. I think this is all bullshit! You should make the films that you believe in. Making a film isn’t like cracking IAS or cracking CAT. You spend so much of time – writing a script, making a film, struggling with yourself and others – because you believe in a story. If you’re so award oriented, take a job in an advertising firm or a television channel. That will be much more satisfying. You’ll get your perks every year. But if you want to make films, love what you’re doing. Enjoy the journey more than you’d dream of the rewards.

 

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About the Author

Ankit Ojha

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Ambivert. Intermittent cynic. Content creator. New media enthusiast. Binge-watcher. Budding filmmaker.

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