As a child what were your early influences towards cinema? Art, literature, graphics, photography?
Influences were Hindi films running in cinema halls of my town or villages where I used to go during school vacations. One film use to run for many weeks unlike nowadays. The films that I liked, I used to watch many times until I knew them by heart.
How did you first become interested in film direction?
I guess it was a gradual progression from being an avid cinegoer who used to watch the films as a child does- as stories, drama, action etc which gradually changed into preference for films with a specific starcast and then to want to tell these stories myself so that was the beginning of being interested in Film Direction. It happened automatically, there was no conscious effort. I think weekly cinema magazines in Hindi were a huge attraction in small towns, one read them cover to cover. And even collected them Apart from writing about film stars, they wrote about film directors too.
What steps did you take to train yourself?
I had read something somewhere about the FTII in Pune which was known to train people in the film direction course, maybe there was a mention in these film magazines. There wasn’t too much information on this nor did I try to get it. I had figured that I wanted to do something in the field of cinema. After graduation, I came to know about the Video Production course at the Mass Communication Dept. in University of Pune through a newspaper ad. I applied for the same and the results of Entrance exam were positive. I was in a dilemma for some time whether to wait for FTII (which was having a zero year then). I decided to wait, appeared for the exam and got selected.
Have you assisted anyone? How does it help one?
I have not assisted anyone. I don’t think I have the temperament to assist.
How did your first film project come about? Tell us something about the experience.
I had read Sahitya Academy Award winning Marathi novel by Sadanand Deshmukh called BAROMAS and I was really moved by the novel, its characters, the setting was very familiar. I strongly felt that the story should be adapted into a film. I called up Sadanandji and bought the rights of the book. When I started, I was thinking about making it in Marathi. Later on, after the first time producer, P. Sajith came on board, we decided to make it in Hindi. Sajith is a 1st generation entrepreneur and like a true Malayalee, hes a cinephile. We formed our company called Filmitch (filmy khujli which we are all afflicted with) Productions. We met through a common friend, discussed the project and decided to go ahead.
How do you decide on a film subject. What are your inspirations?
A good story from any source is my choice of a film subject. Then follows the directors treatment and style of narration and presentation. Main inspiration comes from watching good films in any language.
Is film direction intuitive or is it something you learn?
What is your genre?
Difficult to answer at this stage. I have made only one feature film.
What part does risk-taking play in your work, if any?
As long as one enjoys the work he/she is doing, no thoughts of risk come to my mind.
Do you think the audience is perceptive about how a director establishes a mis en scene in the sense of time and space?
Yes. May not be consciously every time but subconsciously YES.
What is more important – story or technique? If story is more important, then why not a book or theatre?
Both are important and should go hand-in-hand. ‘What’ (What the film is about? ) keeps one curious. ‘How’ ( it is done / treated/presented) keeps you intrigued.
Film is a director’s medium, though it is often looked at as driven by Film stars. How do you deal with it?
It is indeed a Director’s medium. Stars become the face of the film which the audience notices. It IS star driven when it comes to the audience deciding to watch a movie. But there are exceptions which keep coming along which are so strong in content and defy the conventional star system.
Film technology is continuously changing. Do you think it affects you as a director, in the way you want to tell stories.
It does not affect one as a director but keeping oneself updated with it always helps.
Your favorite films or directors? At least two of them?
Two? The list is long.
What role does commerce play in film making?
Very important role. Finance is required to keep making films and commercial success is the certificate of the noumber of people who watched that film. One makes a film so that it is watched by as many people as possible.
What helps a film more the story or marketing?
Both. Marketing brings the viewer to the theater initially. Good storytelling will multiply the number of viewers after that.
Any hurdles you have encountered in your journey.
Things that are blocks in a achieving your vision while making your film.
Do you often get all that is in your wish list or is it a hard bargain every time? How important is an EP to a director?
Hurdles are a part of the process of filmmaking. Getting one’s wishlist is very difficult considering the nature of filmmaking process where so many creative minds are working together. I don’t view it as a hard bargain most of the times but to arrive at a point where everybody is happy / satisfied with his / her performance, its difficult but it is very important for the next day’s work environment to be comfortable for everyone at all stages of production. Everybody in the unit is important. Especially an EPs relationship with Director is very crucial. They must come on the same plane by the end of Pre-Production.
What is in the kitty now?
Any advice to aspiring directors?
None. I am yet to be in that position to advice anybody.
Any memorable blunders?
I don’t think blunders are memorable at all but in my case, I have been rushing through every stage of production without being fully satisfied with my preparation.
Your dream project?
A good biopic, a good historical, many…
Details of the film ‘Baromas’ are here.