Posts Tagged ‘interview’

It’s always a great pleasure to hear the great directors. But it’s a pity that in our country we don’t have too many such events where one gets to hear the directors. And even if it happens, one hardly records the conversation.

At this year’s London Indian Film Festival, filmmaker Mani Ratnam was in conversation with director Peter Webber. And thankfully, they have recorded it too. So here’s the VOTD.

I-am-not-a-rebel1Adoor Gopalakrishnan is considered to be one of the greatest filmmakers of India. In a career comprising four decades, the Padma Vibhushan (the second highest civilian honour) awardee has scripted and directed eleven feature films and several shots and documentaries. Considered the pioneer of the New Cinema movement in Kerala, Gopalakrishnan’s films have fetched him over eighteen National Awards. In 2004, he was awarded the title, ‘Commander of the Order of Arts & Letters’ – the top French honor for culture. Winner of the highest honour of the nation, the Dada Phalke Award, the septuagenarian spoke to National Award winning editor, Apurva Asrani, about his films, his views on popular cinema, and his vision for an intelligent, and committed distribution system.

1. Why are your films not widely available in India?

Firstly, there is the hurdle of language. I make films in Malayalam and this limits the audience for my films to Kerala. I am aware that there exists a niche audience outside my state but there has been little effort to take these films accessible to the audiences outside the state. My films can very well be exhibited with sub-titles in English. We have so many big cities in India and they can substantially support a movement for meaningful cinema in this country. The Governmental agencies like NFDC have done precious little to explore these possibilities.

Strangely even private initiatives are wanting. We lack an intelligent and enlightened distribution system that does not hesitate to explore new avenues for a different kind of cinema.

2. Do you think there is an audience for world cinema in India?

There certainly is. You can gauge the interest from the success of the several film festivals spread all over India now. Especially with the advent of the multiplex, it is possible to programme decent films and generate reasonable revenue. But distributors should have faith in these films and be ready to venture into unexplored areas.

3. How true are you to your script? Is there room for improvisation during the shoot?

I always work with a detailed script. And then I prepare a shooting script before I go for a shoot. All the same, no script is sacrosanct when you actually film on locale.

Scripting is perhaps the most important stage in filmmaking. But it should not be treated as final and inviolable. A script is written inside a room, but on location where you have nature and real people interacting, there is every chance for change. Even the position of the sun in the day becomes a very critical factor.

4. What is editing according to you? Do your films evolve in the editing room?

Editing starts even as you are writing your script. It accords the film its rhythm and flow. It is again not necessary that editing follows the script strictly. In fact I do not refer to the script while editing. Though a lot of thought and planning may have gone into scripting, the editor/director should not hesitate to improve upon the material that is available to him. There are many instances of my having altered even the sequence of scenes. The impact is what maters.  

5. If we talk of Indian cinema gone global, only two prolific names come to mind immediately; Satyajit Ray and your self. Why is it so?

It may be because we have not compromised with market pressures. These films deal with real people, their problems and their aspirations. Nothing is faked for dramatic or spectacular effect. As these films portray life lived in our land they become authentic documents of Indian life.

6. Would you make a film in Hindi like Ray did?

(Laughs) I don’t see the need. Also, my understanding of the Hindi language is very rudimentary. And don’t forget, language is the flower of a culture. It is not just a mere vehicle to transact ideas. It should not be forgotten that Ray made only one attempt at making a film in Hindi (Shatranj ke Khiladi -1977).

7. In Nizhalkkuthu (2002) you have followed a rhythm different from your other films. It is fast paced, stylistically shot and features a mainstream music composer(Ilayaraja). Was that a successful experiment?

Each time I make a film, my attempt is to try things I have not done before. So, every time I pose before myself a new challenge and then try to meet it. The process is very exciting. Some films are slow while others are faster. The pace of a film is invariably dependent on its theme and treatment.

As for the score, I wanted to use folk music as a lait motif. Ilayaraja happens to be a master at that and it worked very well. I was very happy with the result.

8. In Kodiyettam (1977), the lead character, Shankaran kutty slowly sheds his childlike conduct after his marriage. In Swayamvaram (1972) marriage is seen as a rude wake up call from a love story. Do you see marriage as a failed institution?

No. In fact, I see it the other way. Marriage is the meeting of two minds. Sankarankutty who is not prepared for a married life and the responsibilities that come with it, slowly grows into it. His real marriage takes place at the very end when he buys clothes and presents it to his wife. Man presenting clothes to the woman is the core ritual of a Hindu marriage in Kerala. Swayaramvaram is the story of a young man and a woman choosing to live together without the formal bonding of a marriage. It is devoid of the supportive network of their parents. It is the society that they come into that proves to be unwilling to accommodate them.

9. Your stand against popular cinema. What factors you think would allow parallel cinema to survive in India?

I am not against cinema becoming popular. We all want our films to be popular. In their effort to make their films acceptable to the masses, people make all kinds of compromises and the end product turns out to be simply run of the mill. Let me also hasten to add that I do not make parallel cinema. Parallel cinema is a misnomer. I simply make films. It is others who call them by convenient names and I think it is unfair to do so. My films are processed in the same laboratories as the commercial ones and often I use commercially successful stars in them. And I exhibit them in the same cinemas as the others. There is nothing in the making, promotion or exhibition of these films which qualifies them to be termed parallel.

10. How would you compare our approach to film distribution vis-a-vis the west?

Quality films deserve to be treated differently. We can borrow examples from the West. Both in Europe and the US, if a film wins a good prize in an International festival, it becomes the selling point. Our own experience is just the opposite. A film winning a national award is looked down up on with suspicion. Our distributors discreetly avoid it because they presume that popularity or commercial success is inversely proportional to the quality of a film.

DA

Filmmaker Darren Aronofsky was a special guest at 12th Marrakech International Film Festival where his masterclass was one of the main attractions of the fest. Some of us got time to sit down with him and talk about his films, characters, reviews, how he works and his thought process. Click on the play button and enjoy!

For pointers on specific topics, you can follow the time code given after the audio file.

at the start – on Sandy and Noah‘s shoot

02:44 – Taking to Twitter. My friend Louis C.K.

04:13 – Studios reaction on giving out film details on Twitter

– The studio was bit nervous but i get the idea about teasing people and still not giving away too much.

05:30 – On Noah. His filmography, ideas.

– The first film I pitched after Pi was Noah.

– All these ideas come from before i was making films. In fact this is my fear I feel I’m running out of ideas!

06:37 – Making a movie with Mickey Rourke. Girls. Phone numbers.

09:00 – On bollywood, Hindi films, Bandit Queen, Sholay

11:55 – From zero budget indies to big budgets Studio films

– Every film i have done up to this time, nobody wanted to make it except me.

13:20 – Animals, Water, Life Of Pi

14:37 – Superhero films

16:00 – Characters in dark territory, uncomfortable feeling, Happy endings

– So you drive your characters made. DA – Fair enough.

17:14 – Comedies? Did four shorts in film school. Two comedies.

18:15 – Mad people. Over the edge.

– Classical Hollywood happy ending never made sense to me.

20:55 -Looking back at your films and finding flaws

– Never look at your films, it’s kind of like masturbation.

– I watched Requiem for A Dream and I couldn’t recognize the person who had made it. It was surely a different person.

22:50 – Reviews, Criticism. Unromantic reviewer at Variety.

– when I meet her, it won’t be a good day.

26:40 – HBO series Hobgoblin

We have been thinking about starting a Podcast for a long time. And the excuses were many and like all other excuses, quite silly too. Finally, a bunch of us got together, got drunk and recorded a podcast khichdi-cast where about 10 people were raving, ranting and shouting at the same time. We discussed Sudhish Kamath’s film Good Night Good Morning, the angry post that he wrote, indie filmmaking and other such stuff. But blame it again on logistics that we still don’t have the access to the audio files. Hopefully we will sort out in a day or two.

I recently saw the marathi film Shala. It’s the directorial debut of 25 year old Sujay Dahake. Wrote a post on it and thought why not start a formal podcast with him. If you still haven’t seen the film, do watch it.

The idea of the podcast is to put focus on those films and people who don’t get much space in the mainstream media and to discover their stories.

Do tune in and let us know your honest feedback. Good, bad, fugly – everything is welcome. The audio quality is not that great and hopefully we will find a better solution soon.

You can listen here or click here to go the soundcloud page to have a better view.

You can directly jump to specific time codes if you want to skip other questions.

0:55 – Background. Cinema education.

02:50 – when the author Milind Bokil refused to give the film rights to him because of his age.

05:00 – And how he convinced the author.

06:26 – When 39 producers said NO. And world is not always fair to 5’4″ man.

08:10 – No hero, no heroines. How is the scenario in Marathi film industry?

10:00 – Difference between the book and the film.

11:50 – Is emergency just a tokenism?

13:44 – Casting actors. Workshops. And how to direct kids? 1600 kids auditioned for 40 actors.

16:00 – How do you shoot “i have butterflies in my stomach”?

18:00 – “Destination Versus journey” cinema.

19:40 – Foreign DOP. My teacher.

21:00 – The look, the colour and the logistics. Who is telling the story – my camera or your actors?

23:10 – Shooting in Archaeological Survey Of India protected area. Back to 70s.

24:40 – Making a film VS releasing it. We only knew about making a film.

27:30 – Subplots.

30:00 – No subtitles? Lack of judgement. Limited release.

31:00 – My average audience is in his 40s right now.

32:45 – Nothing new. But well told. Bothered?

35:20 – My age. My age. My age. It’s sounding corny now.

37:30 – This film is a completely social media product.

38:40 – And the producers are knocking at the door now.

Its not exactly VOTD. But Audio Of The Day! Its a rare radio interview of Kishore Kumar where he talks to Ameen Sayani about his three friends – all in three different voices & style, his brother Ashok Kumar, his singing and acting debut and lot of other things…all in his inimitable style!

The magic, the madness, the maverick and the mimicry! Play on!

When he speaks, we just listen. He is one of our all time favourite actor and the baap of acting – Naseeruddin Shah. And what a delight – unlike the rest of bollylalaland, he is honest and candid. And qualified too.

So, here it is…Naseeruddin Shah criticising Amitabh Bachchan’s choice of films (loving it! finally someone with whom we agree completely), on Sholay and talks about his role in Vishal Bhardwaj’s Saat Khoon Maaf. Click the play button. Now!

And there is more…now in sequence…Naseeruddin Shah on everything that’s cinema, with some priceless quotes on Farah Khan, Dev Anand, Mithun Chakraborty, Bollywood, Shammi Kapoor and Dara Singh!

The show is called ‘In Conversation’ and is  hosted by Saeed Naqvi on NewsX.

Thnx for the tip Rishabhpande .

After Chandni Chowk to China, Nikhil Advani has again paired up with Akshay Kumar for his new film Patiala House. And yes, cricket is at its core. The film is being shot in London and a reader of our blog alerted us about these two videos which are out now.The second video tells more about the film than the first one which has Akshay’s interview. Click on the play button if you are still interested in either Akshay Kumar or Nikhil Advani film.