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Sanju Surendran : In a Chat With a Film Director

Sanju Surendran, an Indian film maker is a graduate of Film and Television Institute of India, Pune. At the Institute he picked his lessons from the legendary film maker Mani Kaul. Sanju has done a brief stint as a teacher of Film Direction and Screenwriting at the KR Narayanan National Institute of Visual Science and Arts, Kottayam , Kerala. His documentary on Kutiyattam, ‘Kapila’ won the National award for the Best Documentary and Special Mention at Visions du Reel, Switzerland. Sanju’s first feature film, ‘Aedan- Garden of Desire’ won Rajathachakoram award for the Best Debut Director and  the FIPRESCI award for the best Malayalam film and four Kerala state film awards. His IMDB Profile is here.

As a child what were your early influences towards cinema? Art, literature, graphics, photography?

Childhood is a blossoming of curiosities. I was always interested in stories, colours and graphics. Bedside stories which my father would say or the dramatic narration of an incident by my mother. I used to draw and paint as a child and was quite impressed by the graphical film posters of filmmaker Bharathan et al. I was also a voracious reader. Maybe all this and more helped me in becoming a filmmaker.

How did you first become interested in film direction?
It was in college days that my love towards cinema crystallised and i decided to become a filmmaker. It was a time when I was exposed to world cinema, to film clubs and the process of shooting a film. It was a time when new politics and thoughts was emerging in the campus. I made a short film right after college and applied to FTII. I didn’t get through in the first go.

What steps did you take to train yourself?
The best way to learn films is by making one’s own films. You learn from your mistakes. You learn from your success. Film is something that can’t be taught but be learnt. Like Cezanne for example would get up everyday and walk a long distance and paint his outdoor canvases. It was like an everyday routine. Filmmaking is also like that. The more you practise , the more you perfect.

Have you assisted anyone? How does it help one?
I’ve assisted Sri Santosh Sivan in a Hindi film. It helps to understand the dynamics of film making on a large scale – management and aesthetic continuum of a feature film. Santosh Chettan is a genius. Working with him on the script and on the set is an enriching experience.

How did your first film project come about? Tell us something about the experience.
My documentary Kapila had won a National Award. After that we as a team were well prepared to make a feature film. I was teaching at KR Narayanan Film School , Kerala when a friend introduced me to the stories of S Hareesh. I loved it! It was very real but very surreal at the same time. I wanted to make a film on the stories. Luckily I got a producer who was willing to share my dreams and we went about making the film.

Tell us something about crowd funding. Do you think the process can be improved and become a larger contributor to a film’s budget?
Yes. But right now in India, its in a fledgling state. There’s too many paperwork and very less money. The highest amount crowd funded for a feature film is barely able to cover its post production expenses.

How do you decide on a film subject. What are your inspirations?
It can be a story. It can be a painting. It can be a dance.
It can be anything which inspires and sustains.

Is film direction intuitive or is it something you learn?
Its both. You learn about cinema everyday. You watch films. Read about films. Engage with people on films. But while shooting you forget all these and just make your own film. Trust your intuition.

Do you think the audience is perceptive about how a director establishes a mis en scene in the sense of time and space?
The audience is very arbitrary. Sometimes they may reject a wonderful film or praise a very mediocre film. They can also be very critical or unnecessarily full of praise. So how do we make films for the audience ? In the ancient art of Kutiyattam, the performers train by drawing an invisible wall between the audience and themselves. So that they are never influenced by the tastes of the audience. They can perform according to their own desires. Similar is the case of filmmakers. They should do their own stuff.

Film is a director’s medium, though it is often looked at as driven by Film stars. How do you deal with it?
The presence of a star in a film helps to graner a films budget. But things have changed. Its possible to make a film on a shoe-string budget. Like Astruc’s Camera Stylo the cinema has evolved to a very poetic , very light , very tangiable, very democratic medium.

Tell us something about your film ‘Aedan’
‘Aedan’ is more of a folk tale in its elemental qualities and evocation of eternal human passions. The stories attempt a microscopic examination of the human psyche.
What we see in the subdued, underplayed narration is a whirlwind of emotions – lust, passion, envy and rage. Life and death, game and crime, loss and lust, light and shade, rain and shine play hide and seek against the dark, bright and grey backdrops. As the movie traverses through the emotional universes of the characters, the idyllic landscape of a beautiful Kerala village takes on diabolic dimensions in the night.

Your favorite films or directors? At least two of them?
Mani Kaul and Robert Bresson.

Mani Kaul, to my mind, is one of the greatest filmmakers.He was actually a filmmaker of the future especially with the way his thought process worked or the way he discussed cinema. When he came to FTII, he conducted a master class and that’s when I discovered the kind of insights he has on cinema as a craft. He was very particular that as filmmakers, we realise our own true nature. Imitating a technique is easy but an artist’s true mark is to be able to find your own self, he would say. My first film is my attempt to pay tribute to cinema and to find my style.

And Robert Bresson is a revolutionary who brought to light the full powers of the film medium.

Any hurdles you have encountered in your journey. Things that are blocks in a achieving your vision while making your film.
Only one. The Censor Board.

Do you often get all that is in your wish list or is it a hard bargain every time?
Yes. I’m lucky till now. I could make the films I want to make without any compromise.

What is in the kitty now?
A love story based in Middle East and Kerala. Possibly the wildest love story ever told.

Any advice to the aspiring directors?
Invent. Re-invent.

Any memorable blunders?
Student blunders at FTII while shooting TV project etc.

Your dream project?
A short story by C.Ayyappan – who is one of India’s best storywriters – but literally unknown to the outside world. Its a supernatural tale of love and lust set in the seventies.

Who would you like to take out for dinner?
Friends – when meeting them after a long time or continuing an ongoing conversation.

What are you listening to right now? And most recent book? And Movie?
Pelva Naik’s dhrupad vocals.

‘The war of the end of the world’ by Mario Vargas Llosa.
Honeyland by Tamara Kotevska,Ljubomir Stefanov.

Your twitter handle?
Twitter @sanju_surendran. My website is www.sanjusurendran.com

In a Chat with Jyoti Kapoor

Jyoti Kapoor is a Mumbai based screenwriter and former journalist. She was born and brought up in Karnal. After completing her Masters in Mass Communication from Punjab University, she went on to work as a correspondent with publications like ‘The Indian Express’ and ‘Mid-Day’ before she crossed over to fiction. She also taught screenwriting at Whistling Woods International, a film school based in Mumbai, before starting out as a full time writer. An alumnus of Film and Television Institute of India, Jyoti has co-written scripts for films like ‘Badhai Ho’, ‘Dawat-e-Ishq’ & ‘Kaccha Limboo’ and is the writer of upcoming film ‘Good News’.

Jyoti has been actively involved in writers’ rights initiatives and is the Vice President of the Screenwriters’ Association (SWA).

Jyoti’s IMDB link is here.

As a child what were your early influences towards cinema? Art, literature, graphics, photography?
Mostly what I got to watch on Doordarshan. But I do remember gravitating most towards the films of Shyam Benegal, Gulzar, Govind Nihlani, Satyajit Ray, Basu Chatterjee, Hrishikesh Mukherjee, to name a few.
Also, I was lucky to have witnessed the golden age of Indian TV. Buniyaad, Nukkad, Malgudi Days, Hum Log, Pachpan Khambe Laal Deewaarein, Bharat Ek Khoj – were some of my favorite shows on TV.

Have always admired Raghu Rai’s photography.

I have grown up on a staple diet of Munshi Premchand, Sharad Joshi, R.K.Narayanan, Mahadevi Verma, Manohar Shyam Joshi, Mulkh Raj Anand, Ruskin Bond and of course, stories told by my grandmother, who was one of the biggest influences on me while growing up. My bedtime stories, on most days, were a mix of tales woven around partition, Ramayana and Mahabharata. I also remember her telling me the desi version of Snow White among other stories. It’s amazing how fairytales and folklores travel across continents, generations, and how they transcend age, religion, and geography.
After having worked in the business of storytelling for more than a decade, I can say this with confidence, that my grandmother was one of the best storytellers I have come across. I wonder if she would have liked to collaborate with me if she were alive today. Maybe in a different universe!

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A Chat With Dinesh Yadav

Hailing from a pilgrimage, Maheshwar, in Madhya Pradesh, Dinesh S Yadav, more than a film Diretor is an ‘evocateur’. Before taking up film editing from The Film & Television Institute of India, Pune, he did his masters in Television Direction & Graduation in Film & Television Production from EMRC, Indore. But long before he started his formal education in filmmaking, he came onto the floor with a couple of music & animation videos, theatre & short films like ‘Aashaad’ and ‘Umas’ winning him awards at various national and international film festivals. ‘Turtle (Kachhua)’, his debutant feature film starring Sanjay Mishra, is taking rounds in the film festivals worldwide before hitting the screens. His second bollywood feature, ‘Wah Zindagi’, an entertaining family drama starring Sanjay Mishra, Vijay Raj, Manoj Joshi, Naveen Katuria & Plabita Borthakur is expected to have a grand release later this year. His IMDB profile is here. 





In a Chat with Siddartha Jatla

Siddartha Jatla
Siddartha Jatla is from Hyderabad, he studied still photography (B.F.A) from Sri Venkateswara College of Fine Arts, Osmania University.
He further pursued motion picture photography from FTII, Pune. He has directed the much acclaimed film ‘Love and Shukla’, amongst many other credits.

His IMDB Profile is here.


Trailer of Love And Shukla



Trishaan Sarkar : Acting & Casting

Trishaan Sarkar

As a child what were your early influences towards cinema? Art, literature, graphics, photography?
My early influences were all the Hindi films and mostly where Amitabh Bachhan was present. Sholay is one film that i have seen over 500 times and heard the cassette over 1000 times , may be more. Films by Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Raj Kapoor, Satyajeet Ray, Bimal Roy, Ritwick Ghatak were the ones which I got to see the most. Then in school and home and around I had a great no.of bengalis and so Rabindra Sangeet, dance drama and other cultural activities like skits, theatre, was a regular thing. And I participated in one and all. I was not a book worm but liked to read a mix bag of stories ranging from Thakur ma er jhuli to champak or chandamama. But most importantly my grand parents had a great influence on me. Every night I forced one of them to tell me some new jatak Katha and in school I used to narrate them to my school mates. So the influence happened from various sides. Parents, teachers, films, radio, theatre, story books, comics, ramleela, family traditions etc. all had their fare share on me.

How did you first become interested in the performing arts?
During durga Puja, as a kid I was mesmerized by the Kakus and Kakimas doing aarti of ma durga with dhunochi. That was the first performing art form I wanted to master. And later I became a regular attraction in my pada and every year my aarti was a celebrated item no. (hahahahaha). Followed by break dance, disco, bhangra and many more dances.

What steps did you take to train yourself as an actor?
I am born and brought up in Jhansi and there are no real acting schools or very good level of theatre that happens there. But during my matriculation I had decided to be an actor. So I started researching. One of my close friends told me that to be an actor one has to do plays, theatre. So the closest city where decent theatre happened was Gwalior. So i went to Gwalior to do my graduation and simultaneously did stage. But not good enough. Internet was little expensive and not available every where. Had to travel 20 Kms to surf net. So google helped me to get to know about Barry John, FTII, NSD, BNA, and many more acting schools.Post my graduation I joined Barry John’s acting school in 2002 and landed in Mumbai in 2003. Stayed in Mumbai for 5 years and in 2008 I went to FTII to study acting and film making.

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General Screenings : June 04 – June 08 2018

Monday 04/06/2018 : One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (Milos Forman/USA/133min/1975) : NFAI

Tuesday 05/06/2018 : Loves of A Blonde (Milos Forman/Czechoslovakia/88min/1965) : NFAI

Wednesday 06/06/2018 : Amadeus (Milos Forman/USA/160 mins/1984) : NFAI (FTII Copy)

Thursday 07/06/2018 : The Round Up (Milos Jancso/Hungary/90min/1966) : FTII MT

Friday 08/06/2018 : Aguirre, The Wrath Of God (Werner Herzog/West Germany/95min/1972) : FTII MT

Additional Titles

  1. Silence And Cry (Miklos Jancso/1967)
  2. Red Psalm (Miklos Jancso/1972)
  3. Everyman for Himself And God Against All (Werner Herzog/1974)
  4. Mandi (Shyam Benegal/1983)
  5. Manthan  (Shyam Benegal/1976)
  6. 2001 : A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick/1968)
  7. A Clockwork Orange (Stanley Kubrick)

Auroshikha Dey : In Conversation With An Actor

Auroshikha Dey

As a child what were your early influences towards cinema? Art, literature, graphics, photography?
There was always something about movies. The action, the drama, the romance. I remember as an army brat we use to often go to an open air theatre every weekend. Trust me I would become very cranky if I were to be devoid of this. And after every movie my father would ask me how I liked it and if it had all the components that, in my opinion, made for a good film – hero, heroine, love, fighting and songs

Life was simple.

How did you first become interested in the performing arts?
I am a dancer at my core. Dancing is my solace. To be able to express all your emotions without words but were mere grace and posture. However my first date with acting was when I was in college. I was part of the dramatic association and it is there were I was able to fuse both and use acting as a medium of expressing myself.

What steps did you take to train yourself as an actor?
I am a post gradute in acting from FTII, and that was my pathsala where iron sharpened iron.

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Gaurav Dwivedi : In A Chat With An Actor

Gaurav Dwivedi

As a child what were your early influences towards cinema? Art, literature, graphics, photography?
It began with literature given the usual atmosphere in an academically inclined middle class family from Indore. My room-mate was my grandfather, I called him ‘bauji’. His resources when it came to literature was never-ending and that spiked my interest. I was also greatly consumed by graphic novels. ‘rusi lok-katha’ ram rahim, nagraj and all diamond comics characters were my favourites and amusingly enough i ran my little library where books were select, varied and quite a rarity in the area i lived.

How did you first become interested in the performing arts?
Debates, fancy dress competitins and solo performances made for the typical rite of passage for the enthusiast in me just like it does for every aspiring artist in the country, in fact the world.

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Anish John : In A Chat With An Audiographer

As a child what were your early influences towards cinema?
My mother was an avid cinema watcher. She encouraged us, as children to watch movies at home and in the cinema. We would even watch regional movies on Doordarshan on Sunday afternoons and rent VHS tapes too. I was exposed to all kinds of cinema right from a very early age. I guess that, kind of, subconsciously influenced me.

How did you first become interested in audiography? most people don’t know about this field of cinema?
I became interested in Audiography primarily because of music. When I was younger, I was obsessed with music. That obsession led to, wanting to perform and later, record music. Recording music, eventually led me to, wanting to experiment with different sounds – not just musical sounds but all kinds of sounds. Once I got to FTII, I began observing film sound design more closely and was drawn to it.

What steps did you take to train yourself?
I just began noticing things more keenly I think. That’s the only real training I think I have provided myself with. I observe the world around me as carefully as I can. I try and travel, as much as possible, in order to explore newer worlds that I don’t normally have access to. I try and pay attention to people that surround me, so I can see and understand alternative points of view. I think all of this has been part of my training beyond the usual, academic techniques and methods. Besides this, I try and watch as many movies as possible, because that provides me with insights into peoples minds. The filmmakers mind.

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Arri Introduces Large Format Camera : Arri Alexa LF

Arri intriduces a complete range of large format system. Bases on a large format 4k version of the Alexa Sensor, the system comprises Alexa LF Camera, Arri Signature Prime Lenses, LPL lens mount and PL-LPL Adaptor. These system elements have been designed to take fulkl advantage of the enlarged sensor while also offering compoatibilkity wiuth existing lenses, accessories and workflows.

Featuring a sensor slightly larger than full frame, ALEXA LF records native 4K with ARRI’s best overall image quality. This allows filmmakers to explore an immersive large-format aesthetic while retaining the sensor’s natural colorimetry, pleasing skin tones and stunning capability for HDR and WCG workflows. Versatile recording formats, including efficient ProRes and uncompressed, unencrypted ARRIRAW up to 150 fps, encompass all on-set workflow requirements.

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