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My films are all part of my life, says Shoojit Sircar

The Kolkata-based filmmaker opens up about his creative process

PTI | Published 24.11.21, 01:58 PM

Shoojit Sircar/Facebook

Filmmaker Shoojit Sircar on Tuesday said there is always a connection between him and his films as he has often personally lived the stories of his movies.

The Kolkata-based filmmaker, known for critical hits such as Yahaan, Vicky Donor, Piku and October, said often the moments in his movies are inspired by his own experiences.

"The films I have made have somehow been associated with me. It's never that somebody came to me, gave me a script and I made the film. Whether it was Piku, October or Yahaan, I was somehow always associated with the stories of these films. Somewhere it was all part of my life," Sircar said.

Citing the example of October, featuring Varun Dhawan and Banita Sandhu, the director said he drew some key scenes of his 2018 movie from his real-life experience.

October is a coming-of-age drama film which follows the life of a hotel-management intern (Dhawan) who takes care of his comatose fellow intern (Sandhu) in an unconditional and unconventional manner. The film was written by Juhi Chaturvedi and shot by Avik Mukhopadhyay, Sircar's frequent collaborators.

"With October, a lot of the film is part of my life because my mother was in comatose and I was there with her in the ICU for three months. So whatever sequences are filmed in the hospital, they are inspired by my personal experiences.

"So it's just personal experiences that you live with and, of course, not all ideas can translate into cinema. Sometimes it takes a lot of time to nurture them," he said.

Sircar was speaking at the masterclass 'Creating Cinematic Success and Storytelling of Sardar Udham' at the ongoing 2021 International Film Festival of India (IFFI).

The filmmaker said he looks up to the work of cinema masters like Satyajit Ray, Ritwik Ghatak and Mrinal Sen and also revealed that legendary Japanese director Akira Kurosawa was a big source of inspiration for his latest film Sardar Udham.

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"There is one film by Kurosawa The Hunter, which was a Japanese and Russian collaboration. Not many people have seen it but it was Kurosawa's only film made out of Japan. So, I take inspiration from a lot of big filmmakers," he added.

Sircar said he is not a fan of the filming process of movies.

"Shooting is a process where every day you have to be really agile and in a positive frame of mind. Everything flows from the director and so the shooting situation for a day entirely depends on the mood of the director.

"I hate shootings as I like to ideate and do scripting. As soon as scripting is done and I print my pages, then for me my film is done. With shooting, I don't want to go all over it again. While writing the script, I lived and made my film."

Sircar's Sardar Udham is based on the life of freedom fighter Sardar Udham Singh, who assassinated Michael O'Dwyer, the former Lieutenant Governor of Punjab in British India in 1940, to avenge the 1919 Jallianwala Bagh massacre. The movie started streaming on Prime Video in October.

Starring Vicky Kaushal in the title role, the film has been praised by critics and viewers for its intimate portrayal of the revolutionary.

Sircar said there was a lot of debate about whether they should start the film with the Jallianwala Bagh sequence or end with it.

"Some of my team members felt that if we start with the Jallianwala Bagh (sequence), then they will understand the first part of the film because it was so scattered. There's no singular narrative.

"But we thought, what is the one thing that we want viewers to take home? I just wanted them to take home (the horror that unfolded at the) Jallianwala Bagh. That was my ultimate aim," the filmmaker added.

Sircar said he received complaints about the length of the Jallianwala Bagh sequence, which lasted for about 45 minutes. The total runtime of the film was 2 hours and 42 minutes.

"I wanted them to take the Jallianwala Bagh home because then they will understand all the moments and revolutionaries of the pre-Independence movement. This was the fulcrum of the movement of that time," he stressed.

Last updated on 24.11.21, 02:03 PM
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