Are you excited with the response of your debut film Filmistaan?
Yes. People are talking about the movie on social networking sites after watching it. I am happy with the response I got for the film. The collection has been decent.
Did you aim to be a director or it just happened?
It was not an accident, but I even didnít want to become a director. Like every teenager, I got distracted quite a few times and then I decided to become a film director. In 2004, I started my first step towards direction and made a small documentary. After 2005, I tried my hands in television for a long time, but then gave up. I decided to invest my time in cinema. It took some time, but I am glad that it finally happened. My dad was a photographer on the film sets. I wonít say that I am from a film background but was a part of it. I had a dark room at my home where pictures were developed. The seed of film direction was sowed inside me from there itself.
What are the advantages of a film being screened at international film festivals?
Big budget movies with superstars donít need recognition. But now even big stars also take pride to become a part of these international film festivals. The small budget films donít get a platform. If you make a small-budget movie, whom else will you show it except a few of close friends? You need to show the film to a larger audience.Film festivals provide small budget films a platform where people can watch these movies and give feedback. If small budget movies get good reviews at international film festivals, people turn up in the theatres to see them.
You have done direction for televisions as well. What is the basic difference between television and cinema?
Television is like newspaper, it gets printed daily. But cinema is like a novel, you write it once with much dedication. The audience is same for films and soap operas. Of course television has got a larger audience. But as far as films are concerned, you have to step out of your homes and walk into the theatres to watch them. In earlier days, less film used to get released. People used to wait patiently for the film to get unveiled. But now, every year thousands of films get released. Holiday has got more than eight shows. So tickets are easily available. Gradually the reach of cinema has widened.
Itís been a while Bollywood has been undergoing changes in filmmaking. We see more common faces in lead roles than superstars? How do you judge this change?
Change is the only thing that is permanent. After every decade, films in Bollywood have changed. Dil Chahta Hai was the first movie to break the trend and directors started making movies that are more real and reflect the society. Bollywood is evolving and so is our society. Now, world cinema is also within our approach. Itís good that Bollywood is evolving. This way, new creative minds will get a chance to showcase their talent.
Why didnít you take any superstar in the lead?
Sharib Hashmi and Inaamul Haq were the demands of the film. Any renowned star would have carried their baggage in the film. I just wanted to give a chance to new talents. I am not here to prove any point.
Is the protagonist of
Filmistaan, Sunny Aroraís (Sharib Hasmi) character, inspired by you?
Sunny Arora resides in each one of us. All of us are very filmy. In our daily lives, we have mugged up films. Youth today use cheesy lines like Chup Kar pagle rulayega kya, Ek pal mein paraya kar diya, Main ek baar jo commitment kar di and many more are influenced by Bollywood. International cinema has a great impact on us. Filmistaan is an amalgamation of Bollywood and international films.
What influenced you to write a plot on India-Pakistan relations?
Since childhood we have been taught that Pakistan is our enemy. Whenever the politicians have to shift our focus from big scams, they come up with Pakistan issue. There is difference between patriotism and jingoism. Actually jingoism is what sells. On the name of jingoism, they have made parties and ruled us for years. My approach for this film was human. I just wanted to show that when people of the two countries meet they do so with much love and brotherhood. I didnít want to show this in a preachy manner. So I chose to show this serious issue in an entertaining way.
Many shots in the movie are influence by world cinema. Are you a fan of international films?
I am very much influenced by world cinema. World cinema has taught me films are a lot more than just entertainment. World cinema is more about storytelling.
Contemporary cinema is now part of the mainstream. What is your stand?
I am glad this line between mainstream and parallel cinema is disappearing. After watching Raju Hiraniís movies you will get back home and think about the topic focus in the movie with loads of entertainment for three hours. If the film makers are able to maintain this balance, it would be great.
Has piracy affected film industry?
Of course. To watch movie unveiling in dark theatre has its own experience. People who watch movies on cellphone or television are unaware of the theatre experience. But there are many people
who cannot afford to visit multiplexes. Though the tickets are cheap during weekdays, they should be more reasonable. It will help in controlling piracy. Films should not become a luxury for the rich, it should also be a domain of common people.
What is your upcoming project?
I have signed a movie with Rakyesh Omprakash Mehra that will be on floor within a fortnight. It is not a love story. I am blessed and I respect him a lot. RDB is among my favourite movies.
Favourite directors: Shimit Amin, Raju Hirani, Anurag Kashyap, Dibakar Banerjee, Guru Dutt, M.S. Sathyu, Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Bahman Ghobadi and Majid Majidi
Favourite actors: Ranbir Kapoor, Aamir Khan, Nawazuddin, Irrfan Khan, Rajkumar Rao
Favourite actresses: Parineeti Chopra, Tabu, Deepika Padukone, Kangana Ranaut