Tell us a little about yourself and how you came to chose film directing as a way to express yourself and other people’s story?
I was born in a small city called Allahabad in the State of Uttar Pradesh and bought up in small town Unchahaar which also a part of the same state. My Nana (grandfather) was a Station Master and he regularly use to travel on the train from Unchahaar to the rest of the near by places, so my childhood days belongs to that paradise. After that I shifted to my hometown and started my studies. I am very bad in studies and I change 7 schools till my High School including English to Hindi medium and I had never been to college. I belongs to a middle class family so my parents thought ‘he born to spoil our money’ so kept him out from the school which will be better to take care of my two brothers one elder and other younger to me, I love them both because they always support me. My elder brother is my Godfather and my parents are my God. So this school transitions came regularly at intervals. I spend most of my time roaming around on the street or in between bastard friends. Everybody knows in my Family generation that I’m an ass-hole.
After my 12th I came to the city of dreams and hard work/luck Mumbai to do be an Actor without having a degree of graduation and college ethics but my best buddy is with me ‘STREET’ which I always prefer as my backbone. It helps me day by day to create things which I had experience through the lives of others and myself too. As the time passes I realize that you should learn from your mistakes and experience journey. I started working in a Theater group called GILLO where I do plays with Kids and Adult both. I do production, I helps in kitchen in making tea, I iron actors cloth so these are the part of my starting career. I love working with kids and I always admire it.
Directing came from editing and writing, while doing theater I started working as an intern Video Editor in a small production where I use to shot and edit Wedding Films because only doing Theater you can’t survive in Mumbai. Writing short stories and poetry feels me that I can create them into visuals. I write Hindi essays and short-short stories since my teenage years. I can fill up the pages and pages in hindi writing while improvising the whole situation on paper. Since childhood years I am a big fan of movies like Karan-Arjun, Main Khiladi Tu Anari, Titanic and Jurassic Park.
While doing acting somewhere I fell that I am very conscious about my doing so day by day while working as a Video Editor and Theater Actor, I understand What I want to be in my life?
Why do you think Cinema as form of art resonates to so many people of different ages and background with stories of humanity?
Cinema! just relax and focus on the word Cinema ‘so colorful, so dark’. It connects to life and Art is a part of life. Each of us had a subject of Art in our school and colleges. Some do paintings, some makes sketches while some make films. We create a bond in between younger ages and elder ages but for cinema it never works because it’s a magical medium where things are shown like a magic which sometime connect and sometimes goes above. It is a medium of humanity and culture but as far as I am concerned till now I think people just tell there stories through there vision. I always believe that it is an art and commercial form both because while telling stories you don’t have a particular word in your mind ‘art or commercial’. But, What you have is the structure of the whole scenario where your stories take place.
As a film director naturally you have to work with a large team of people in different departments. Do you find it hard to keep the original vision you personally had with all the incoming input?
When I made my First Experimental film I had three people on set me, assistant and actor. As I move to next level on my First short film I had 5 people on the ground. I don’t even understand what is happening? because I do have only 3 to 4 hrs to complete the film and my DOP is someone who himself try to Direct the film. I am watching the fuss and at certain level it goes beyond my level and I then I had a fight with him. He talk to kids very rudely he himself roll the camera and cut it. I thought What the fuck is this? Who the hell I am? I am totally against to say cut at the exact moment after the scene is over. I believe that you should give freedom to actor to give something which you did not expect. There are many chaos but finally things sort out. I never assist someone in film so its been a tough and interesting experience for me. Team is the most important aspect while making films because no one can go further without a trust able team.
Do you feel as a young Indian film director a responsiblity to portray modern life in India for your generation on screen for people to have newer perceptions of life there?
As a film maker one should know what they thought and what they want to show because writing and filming are the two vast creation of art. For newer generation these days, I talk about Mumbai audience they love to watch prank videos, they love to watch stand up comedy, they love to watch romantic films. I want to make films which hits me first and then to others. I want to make films about a prostitute girl, about boys who fight with their neighbors because they don’t allow them to play in the play ground, about an old man who is suffering from OCD and he still work’s in the society as a sweeper to earn his living. These content may be somewhere difficult for the modern audience to accept I think.
With short films is it easier or harder to really convey the story you want with limited time or is it more concise and straight to point of themes of narrative?
Short Films now days made in bulk. Around me I saw everybody is making films and telling stories. It’s a nice platform to grow as a Filmmaker where you can learn small-small mistakes which you had done while making 2 minute or 5 minute film. From technical point of view you should learn many things especially about sound. For me I think it’s one of the major issue in my both films. Sound quality got stuck in my mind that if I do mistake regarding sound in my next film I would be a chutiya (idiot).
How competitive or difficult is it get the large amounts of funding needed for film projects, generally anywhere globally?
Funds is very-very important to make professional films. I truly agree on this and if you don’t have just wait for sometime, try to save money, borrow from friends and relatives, do some part-time jobs and earn but never go on the floor without having a proper planning. If it collapse it’s all your fault no body is liable to pay because “No body owes it to you, You owe it to yourself”.
How important do you think a background in photography is to progressing into film projects. Can you just making films without that skill?
Location and Framing are the two major aspect of visual storytelling. Like an amateur Filmmaker like me who don’t even know the F of film-making just hold a camera and shot a girl who is walking in the jungle and camera is shaking unnecessarily. Somewhere I want to show like that but somewhere I can’t handle. That’s why I said Team is very crucial for your Cinema journey. A filmmaker whom I inspired most is Mr.Sergio Leone and Elia Kazan, there framing is parallel to each other. Framing should be done according to the requirement of a particular scene where characters are performing. It shows characters condition at certain level, what’s going in there life, how they are fighting, is everything is ok or there might be some problems going on…
Tell me about how ‘Thumbs Up’ came to be and it’s journey from idea to finished project?
Ha Ha Ha ‘Thumbs Up‘ is all about nostalgic days of my life. Since childhood I am very naughty even my friends are no less. Overnight we roam around in the colony and disturb our neighbors by pressing there door bell. As they wake-up we ran on the streets and shout’s ‘chor, chor bhaago-pakdo use (thief, thief ran-caught him’).
While kept that era in my mind I wrote Thumbs Up. I forgot to tell you in the beginning that I am a Big Thief since my younger years. In my hometown there are many small shops and store’s from where I used to stole cigarette packets, bubblegum, soft-drinks even once I stole a jewelry from my aunt’s house and that was the last day of my robbery. Now I am a good boy.
I really thankful to both kids who are playing the part of Dable-Sable in the film. They are innocent and naughty in reality. They lives in slums of Bombay. I took 7 days of workshop with them. They are rehearsing and I was shooting from my phone. It’s a memorable event from me which I never forget in my life even after death. They made this film I only stand and watch the whole process. Production don’t have budget to pay them apart from a daily one bottle of Thumbs Up in a hot sunny day. Stories came from life and image came from perfection…
What else have you got in the works?
My next project is about a place called Tilla (Mountain Area) where boys and girl used to go to score marijuana. This film is based in Bombay itself. Wide Location and real characters plays a major role in this film. It’s a big project for me and it will take time. It’s a 10 to 15 minute film. Writing and Characterization is going on. As an independent film-maker you have to do everything with yourself. Funds is very crucial for this film because whole film is based on exterior location. In 2017 I will make only one film but this is going to be interesting InshaAllah!