Thank you for Shutting the Door on my face!

. Shut doors and I have a strong connection. Every time a door was shut on me, I’d find a rabb

My first Movie Script!

. An old friend of mine sent me an email with an attachment. It was a movie idea I had written in 20

Great Galata

. Last night was the end of this year’s THE GREAT GALATA. It started in the year 2012, and I w

 

Thank you for Shutting the Door on my face!

December 23, 2013 in Uncategorized

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Shut doors and I have a strong connection. Every time a door was shut on me, I’d find a rabbit hole!!!  (So much for being a big fan of the song – “Who the F#$K is Alice?” )

Looking back, I can see all the doors that were shut on me over the last decade. I keep wondering what would have happened if these doors were not banged on my face! Where would I have been today?

 The shut door of Year 2002, else I would have been in USA

These years of my life is when I was in my engineering college. I was a very curious student. I loved technology, and I was hoping to be an inventor sorts. I used to think of crazy things, I once even wrote down how to make a Teleporter, I mean seriously I was that crazy about technology. But then engineering said that being curious is of no use, you’d got to be good at scoring at the internals and at the semester exams. I was pretty bad at those, I just couldn’t and wouldn’t want to SCORE, i enjoyed practicals but not 6 internals and 2 exams in a year. I decided to Drop out and that is how Engineering college SHUT doors on me.

 The shut door of Year 2003, else I would have been a mess

I slid through the Rabbit hole and found myself in a fantasy world called THEATRE. I thought I was born to Marlon Brando (err… you get the point, right?) I had a piece of paper on the wall next to my bed, it read “5 Oscars for acting”. Every night I’d sleep thinking of those naked gold painted guys. And I was 20 and I thought that my ticket to LA would be through theatre, and that too theatre with a Bangalore based company called THE SCRIPT. I did learn a lot of my basic lessons in theatres arts with them, but what I imbibed was the BUSINESS ANGLE to the Arts. I completely owe it to them for making my young hyper mind understand that business in arts is VERY VERY important. I owe that I will give up Oscars but never give up working with this team. It just took 10 months of collaborative work, where I figured that our paths were different and an incident made me feel INSULTED. And I walked away from them, rather shut that door on myself.

 That was the most difficult time of my life. I was 20, I had quit college and I quit the people who I thought were my role models. I remember going back home n crying, bcoz I thought I was a loser, I couldn’t even run back to college. But thanks to my dad, though I really was a loser at that point and any parent would use that as an opportunity to prove the child wrong, but not my dad, instead he appreciated the fact that at 20 I had the courage to walk away from the people who insulted me, he said never lose that instinct. If you are not valued, then don’t stay there. It is that little piece of advice that made me enjoy the doors that were shut on me. (Even when it came to Girl friends :-P )

The shut door of Year 2004, else I’d be a struggling ‘ever-waiting’ actor

I ran to Mumbai to hide. Bangalore, family and friends constantly appeared like they were laughing at me. Only later I realized that all were busy with their lives and no was even looking at me. Anyway, so I ran to mumbai to live the Oscar dream. My plan was very simple, I had a kickass one man play, I’d perform that a couple of times, Spielberg would be around, he’d see me and have tears, and then I’d find myself discussing a script with my co actor – Tom Hanks. It really was that simple in my head.

I spent a year in a friend’s place – eating curd rice. I guess I performed that one man play about 2 times and many people thought I sucked! I went for auditions and they were all disasters. I kind of depended a couple of times on my (then) GF’s money to live. Made my dad pay for my cellphone bills, which by the way were pretty huge (err 21 n a GF, well you can imagine the kind of money I have donated to Reliance through those bills!)

Mumbai doors were never opened for them to be shut on my face, I was sitting wasted by the shut door for a year, before I came back running to my house in Bangalore. But getting wasted is the biggest form of education, I pity those who have never gotten wasted for at least a year in their lives. The things you learn from those embarrassments, insecurities and rejections can never be taught by anyone or any institution. PERIOD.

The Shut door of Year 2005, else I’d be a very successful Theatre Entrepreneur

So I got back to Bangalore, I was 22 but I was a little tough now. I had fallen enough to not be sacred of falling. Whatever I did between 2004 – 2005 can be considered ‘MADNESS’. I stopped asking people to cast me or give me work, I said ‘F U’, I will create my own theatre, I will do my own plays. I don’t know how good or bad they were, but in a matter of a year, I had managed to create a small following for my theatre works. There was an audience who wanted to see my work. I believed in Rangashankara in 2004 when they were gearing up to open, I spent about three to four months trying to be of any little help I could be to make that space THE THEATRE HUB. It opened and it did become the HUB. And for some stupid reason I felt like it was my second home. I used to think only theatre. My idea was not to just do theatre but to make it a successful career, I wanted to create a good business structure for theatre artists to earn from it like everyone else earns from other jobs. I hated the fact that theatre was considered as a poor artists profession, I wanted to change that. I tried pretty hard, I used to come up with some new ways of marketing, I used to stand on MG Road and hand out fliers about my shows, no one used to market plays like that. But the luxury of Rangashankara got me lazy, I couldn’t do theatre in other spaces. One day all of a sudden they shut doors on me, things started changing so much in there, it was not the place which I thought it would be and for about 6 months I was denied of dates to perform. Eventually I got one day and I performed my last show in December 2005 and accepted the shut door. I felt so cheated and hurt back then (however a few years later I grew up, got mature, got disconnected, disassociated and figured that it was just a PRIVATE HUB after all).

The Shut door of Year 2006, else I’d be working in a TV channel or an AD agency

I ran back to mumbai. This time I didn’t want to do theatre or be an actor, I had become arrogant. I told myself that it was their loss and not mine, I used to just be involved in some backstage work in few productions. I started swaying towards ‘Films’. I again found a small place to live and I’d spend all my time watching movies. Once I ran out of cash, worked at DELL for a month. I used to edit corporate videos, meet people to get into TV jobs, or act smart enough to be in Advertising. Looking back, I really don’t know how I wasted my 2006. Other than doing some random corporate video jobs and watching movies (a lot of movies) – I did nothing, ofcourse I shot a short film, my first film experience. For a while I also did this wonderful job called ‘Content writing’, I had to write the features of different kinds of cellphones – “Slim and powerful” “Dual sim” “256 colors screen” Blah Blah… I have done this for some 3000 cellphones!!! It paid the bills. It hit me one day that I was 24 and I had to chase a dream. I packed up and came back home again, leaving behind all the TV/Ad agency jobs that were kind of opening up if I had stayed any longer.

The shut door of Year 2007, else I’d be working at OnMobile

This is a small yet a great event in my life. I was back in Blore and was desperately looking for acting jobs in films. Of course I wasn’t getting any, and I had no money, I saw an Ad where OnMobile was calling out for Video and Audio editors. I had the skill, I wore my formal clothes and went for the job interview. The HR guy looked at my profile, it had a lot of info about my theatre works and my works in Mumbai as a corporate film maker, he then saw my short film, he called his friends in the office n showed them my work, they all liked it. Finally he said “You are over qualified for this job, and you are meant to do bigger things and this job would limit your growth. So I’d be doing a favor to you by not giving you this job.” I didn’t know whether to be happy or be frustrated. I walked back home confused and dejected. It was a door that was not banged on my face, but was gently shut.

The shut door of Year 2008, else I’d be (I don’t know what)

This is a door that I shut myself. After I did the infamous Vaasane Babu role in Suri’s film. I did get a lot of acting offers, but they all were of the kinds which would kill my soul. On the other hand I had Yogaraj bhat telling me that I should become a screenwriter and not waste time on looking for acting jobs. I was so much in awe of him, that I just shut that door and started working with him as a writer, but secretly I’d write a small character for myself. You have seen those. Good I followed his advice, else I’d have done some horrible films or I’d have gone mad not working.

The shut door of Year 2011, which you and I broke open

The shut door of 2011 is me not getting a producer or a star to make LUCIA. But instead of finding a rabbit’s hole, we this time kicked this shut door open and barged in. Project Lucia is now completed successfully.

What did I want to say through this post? - Kiss the Shut Doors, they are there for your own good. Make them feel sorry for shutting the door on you. I guess that’s what I have learnt from my journey over last 10 years. 

(but make sure you kiss the girl one last time before she shuts the door :-P errrr …  I hope feminists will not read into it wrongly!  I meant take the girl’s permission before you do that)

My first Movie Script!

June 11, 2013 in Uncategorized

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An old friend of mine sent me an email with an attachment. It was a movie idea I had written in 2006, the time when I had just started to think of movies. I had forgotten about it, now after 8 years, its quite a feeling to read it again. It made me wonder if in these 8 years I have gained something or lost something. When you are not aware of ‘practicalities’ in Filmmaking… I guess this is how you’d end up writing scripts.

(Cant remember what I had titled this)

Anna stops all of a sudden. I look into her eyes and I know what she is thinking, but we can’t stop. We have to run, run faster. I hold her hand and try to pull her along but she presses her feet on the ground, clenches her toes tight, and stands there firmly, unwilling to budge. I am panting. I fall down on my knees trying to catch my breath. Drops of sweat drip down my fore head as I breathe harder and harder. I see Anna standing right there waiting for an explanation, wanting to know why I stormed into her office, why I have blood on my face, why she has to run, who is she running from. Every breath I took I knew a question was popping up in her head. I look around. People are looking at us; they are carrying a smile, a knowing smile. I have to run, I have to take Anna away from this place, take her far away. I have no time to give her any answers. I put my head up and look at her and she says “Come, Let’s go”, saying that Anna starts running. I see her and wonder where I went wrong.

(Cut. Flashback)

I am on the 26th floor. Puffing and panting. I am claustrophobic. I push the glass door open and drag my feet up to the reception desk. “Mr. Agnihotri” I say, and the bored middle aged woman sitting at the reception pretending to be busy gives a plastic smile and asks “do you have an appointment”. I nod. She picks up the phone and speaks in to the receiver as though she is whispering a secret in the ears of a new born baby. After hanging up she utters THE sentence “Please be seated. He is in a meeting”. I wish I didn’t know that already. I pull myself to the comfortable looking sofa placed right next to the huge French windows. As I sit down I feel that this would be the last time I have to do this. I look around. The security guard at the door is staring. I smile. He doesn’t. Just when I am wondering what he is trying to find, a man holding something walks behind him, he is carrying one end of a huge something. With the guard in the foreground a river of colors is flowing in the background. The colors come alive.

I am standing alone in an oblivion state. Everything around me is void. Am I floating I wonder. Just then I see something flowing towards me from the eternity. I look around and I see that it’s coming from all directions. I get scared. The further I run from one the closer I am getting to the other. Helplessly I stand there waiting for the inevitability to crash in to me. I close my eyes. And it those few moments, I am no where. I feel my feet getting wet and then my head, my hands, my back, I am drenching. It feels so cold, it feels so soft. I open my eyes and I see myself. I am all colored. I look more colored than a rainbow. I feel more pride than a peacock. I turn around and I see myself everywhere. I am radiating all possible colors. I am in a cage and I am tied by my own reflections. “You are called”. The colors are now fading. It all seems to be happening so quick. I look around and the color is all fading in to grey, there is a strong sense of fear that takes over and… and… And I hear it again – “You are called”. I see the grey shades morphing into a face, a grumpy looking serious face and then slowly like a flower blossoming, the face smiles. The look hits me like a jolt of lightning and I wake up to hear the receptionist saying “You are called”. The security guard is smiling.

The moment has arrived. All my life I have been waiting for this moment and when it is finally here, I feel like running away. I feel like quitting. I feel like shouting it out to the whole world “I am not a Film maker”

As I am walking up to the door, I have a sinking feeling in my stomach. And I freeze right there. I am in two minds now. To step ahead or to turn back. I turn back and go up to the receptionist and softly mumble. She gives an ‘Oh you men!’ expression and points her head towards the left. I just follow her direction and slowly walk up to the room. Did I really want to come here or I just wanted to buy some time? I put my file down and walk up to the end of the room. I step up and unzip my pants. I close my eyes and I let go.

“This is great work”. I open my eyes. I don’t remember how long I have been standing here. Has it been 30 seconds or 30 years? I zip up and step down. I see a man sitting on the floor, resting his back by the door and reading through my file. I have never seen him. I should be angry at him for reading through my file but instead I just stand and see him read. I walk up to him. He becomes aware of my presence and says “This is really some good work, come with me”

The door closes as the old man leaves. I am still standing there wondering what just happened. The fact hits me that a stranger just took my file and walked out. I open the door and hurry to the reception. I look around, the receptionist is not there. The place feels different. Its not the same beautiful world outside the French windows. I turn around and see the security guard pointing towards the stairs. I run to the stairs. Climbing up a flight of spiral stairs is easy, not climbing down.

“Climbing down, is a funny phrase, isn’t it?” It’s coming from the floor below. The voice is familiar. It’s him. I rush downstairs and follow the voice. He says “I think climbing down is a funny phrase. The word climbing instantly brings an image of one going up, but as soon as you add the word down, the image is the opposite.” I am still trying to catch up with him and yes I am not in any state of mind to understand the theory behind the phrase ‘Climbing down’, may be I will think of it when I get my hands back on my file. I bend down and I see him slowly stepping down, he places his foot firmly with out any rush. Who is this man I wonder as I start jumping two steps at a time. My father would be this old if he was alive. I don’t know how many floors I am down now. “Are you tired of climbing down in your life?” He asks. Everything comes to a stop. I drop down. The question feels like somebody just grabbed me and asked me to quit the mad race I was running. I don’t hear his foot steps anymore. There are only echoes of the silence. In these echoes I start hearing faint voices. The spiral stairs rearranges itself in rows and columns. The place becomes dark and the voices become louder. I am in a theatre and there is a bag of popcorn in my hand. And on the screen I see –

A small boy looking through a small paper roll. Bending over the parapet wall, he is looking through the roll at the world below. He is smiling as he is looking at a fraction of the entire world through the small hole. He likes the idea of just looking at what he wants, and reject everything around. As he is scanning down, he moves from person to person, objects to objects and builds a story around them. The man in the yellow shirt is a sad man but wants to appear as though he is the happiest person, he is walking up to the butcher shop. The Butcher is sweating and is now chopping the 23rd head off. The chicken is lying down and it sees the knife coming down on its neck and its entire life flashes in front of its eyes. It sees the day when it was caught by the butcher when it was running away from the limping boy who was chasing it. The boy was limping because of the fall he had from the tree. The tree has been there for 120 years. The tree then was a small seed sowed by the man who is now buried next to it. The man used to water the tree till the last day of his life. His grand son is a very sad man and today he is wearing a yellow shirt and is gone to buy chicken from the butcher. The boy then unrolls his small little pipe and makes a paper aircraft of it and flies it off at the world below. I am looking at the paper aircraft gliding in the air and dropping altitude, in just a few seconds it would hit the ground. The boy is looking at it, so am I. The aircraft glides out of the screen and drops near my feet. I pick it up.

“Would you kill to make your film?” asked he, now sitting next to me on the stair.

The answer to that question has brought me here today. I get up and slowly start running towards Anna. The answer to that question is making her run too.

“Yes” I say. He looks at me, smiles and says “Alright then, the contract is simple. I give you the money. You make the film. What the film would be like, I don’t want to know. The only condition being that after you have done it, you owe me something. Deal?”

Was that really an offer? I remember then how all the 2 million producers I had met had rejected my work or had a clause in the contact or wanted to spend a late evening with me or they saw themselves saving the world. And here I just owe him something ‘after’ the film is made. “Deal” I say.

Great Galata

March 28, 2013 in Uncategorized

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Last night was the end of this year’s THE GREAT GALATA.

It started in the year 2012, and I was damn lucky to get a call to be part of it. I thought my theatre days were done and no one saw me as a theatre guy anymore, but thanks to Nimi, I got to be part of it in 2012. Its one of the best things that has happen to Bangalore Theatre. I am sure, very soon chapters of the same will start off in other states as well.

Theatre guys are true artists. And True artists are very emotional. We see each others works and most of the time are trying to criticize it. I guess it is natural because we treat our theatre as our own child and our own child is always the best. In the process we very rarely appreciate another persons work with an open heart.

But Great Galata changes this, even if it is for one day. Its totally worth it. So what happens at THE GREAT GALATA? More than 70 theatre practitioners from Bangalore gang up for a day before March 27th (World Theatre Day). 9 playwrights  9 directors and 4 actors for each play are randomly chosen and bundled up. And they get 24 hours to make a 10 mins play. All the plays are staged one after the other at Rangashankara on March 27th.

The whole theatre community comes together selflessly. This is not a competition, there are no awards, there is no money. Its really for the love of it. We don’t judge eachother’s works. As a writer, you dont have a choice to choose your director. As a director you dont have a choice to choose your actors. And as Actors you dont have the option to choose anything. I think this is the TRICK! And it works like true magic. We all find our little corners in RS and rehearse our 10 min plays with such conviction. For an outsider it would look like we are doing it becoz our life depends on it, but that is not the case. Between rehearsals, you’d see everyone doing their ‘real jobs’ over the phone.

I think, the most magical moment of GG 13 was in the play ‘Missed Call’ written by Rajath Kapoor. The real essence of The Great Galata was seen in that play. HOW? Well, Rajath from Mumbai writes a Hindi play and sends it across. Rajiv from Chennai gets to direct it. Arundathi Nag is randomly chosen for the play. And another young theatre boy from Nepal – Amjad is also chosen in the same process. I have seen Amjad for years. He is a great actor. If it wasn’t for the ‘RANDOM’ selection process of Galata, he wouldn’t have been chosen for that play. So, we had Amjad playing the 80+ Old man, husband of Arundathi Nag’s character in that play. And Amjad rocked! He sort of became the sole image that you’d carry home about the evening. Who would in their right mind give Amjad that role if it wasn’t for the Galata process? But now, I don’t see anyone else doing that role. Even if you got a 70+ actor, he’d not have brought in what Amjad did.

DID YOU KNOW? – I cast two of the major characters for LUCIA after the Great Galata in 2012. Sanjay Iyer and Krishna, both veteran theatre actors. I saw them perform on stage last year and immediately asked them if they were interested in being part of LUCIA! And thus we got two great talents to be part of our film.

After the 2012 galata, I was secretly wishing that I’d get called again for the 2013 galata. For a year, I had kept march 26 n 27 aside for the Galata. Though I dont know what I am doing 2 weeks later, I know for sure that I am busy on March 26 n 27 2014. But the fear lingers at the back of the mind – What if the younger generation takes over? What if I am not called fot the next year? Did I speak too soon? OMG.

Road to Success

February 24, 2013 in Uncategorized

You and I are the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world

December 28, 2012 in Uncategorized

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Listen up, maggots. You are not special. You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake. You’re not your job. You’re not how much money you have in the bank. You’re not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet. You’re not your fucking khakis. You’re the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world. You’re the same decaying organic matter as everything else.

- Tyler Durden, Teacher

 Population explosion! remember that phrase? We spent a lot of time writing essays on that topic in our primary school and High school. So it is sort of deeply rooted in our heads – We two, ours one!

spermSo everyone who studied well and got educated about the social status and the future of our country, got pretty much convinced that they should make only one child! The tragedy is that the number of people who understood that is small in number, and the ones who didn’t understand anything (including population explosion) are large in number and they had a lot of sex, made a lot of children, who have grown up to follow the ideologies of their uneducated parents. In fact it started sometime in 70′s I guess. And the results are reflecting today – Educated class is the minority and the uneducated is the majority. And majority always rules. That is what is happening to us, to our country. How do we solve this? Well we all counted on the people who promised us the 21/12/2012 but looks like someone from the majority bribed them as well.

Tomorrow when the inevitable (read mob violence) is going to happen, it is us the educated who will be wiped out first. Imagine yourself amidst a mob and you are talking about logic/peace/sense in front of say 10 people who live in an entirely different world from yours, they are just going to give you one tight slap and ask you to either follow them or be crushed under their feet. HANG ON! Isn’t this already happening. We the minority are governed by the most uneducated class of people. Yes we are dancing to their tunes. Every minute of our lives, we are following them blindly. Yep we have excellent skills to raise our voice or probably blog (like this one) about how we are not in agreement with whatever is happening. But nothing beyond that. And why we don’t do anything about it? Becoz we know that we are the minorities. We know that even if we show initiative and try to stand ahead and fight this injustice, there will be none to back us up. Even if everyone stands up and supports, we still fail, because – we are a minority. Hence some of us simply blog, garner few comments/likes, feel accomplished and satisfied.

It takes only 552 honest people to change this country. We must be such a minority because even in a population of billions we can’t find those 552 honest people. 552 is the maximum members in the Lok sabha. Planting selfless honest people in that room for a period of 5 years can bring in such a big change. I know it. You know it. But yet we can do nothing about it. We will quietly continue to be ruled by the stupid-ignorant-uneducated majority. And like we have been programmed – we will make only one child and we will teach that child to simply follow our foot steps.

I know what you are thinking – “If you talk so big, why don’t YOU do something?”. That crossed your mind, right? My answer is – yes I am trying. For now, I am trying it within my domain and I am learning from it. I am hoping that someone smarter than me, someone more educated than me will stand up to lead (could be you) and I can offer unconditional support. But if this smarter than me person doesn’t stand up soon, then I will. I am thinking about all this. I am letting the world around affect me, to disturb me, to wake me up. But are you letting these things happen to you?

Sometimes I feel it is justified that the educated mass (us) will suffer and perish. Eg. In the field of cinema, it is the majority section of the society which is giving the money. They demand for crass, and they are supplied with crass. They pay for it and keep the process in circulation.  But in the educated class, we are all just a bunch of confused minorities. We don’t even demand, we simply whine. Hence we get nothing!

There was a time when an Artist would create a work of art and put it out for the lesser mortals to look at it, to appreciate it and to probably learn from it. The lesser mortals respected the artist for his/her gift. They studied the art work and tried to understand it. In the process, they were growing. This happened in all streams of art. And cinema is a combination of all art forms. When the lesser mortal sat down and saw a film, he/she “had” to be moved by that experience, thats how powerful it was. Their constant effort to understand the Artist’s work made them more and more sensible and intelligent. But one day, something weird happened. A smart ass said ‘Why must we lesser mortals try to understand art and learn from it? It is taxing and tiring. Lets simply make what we all can easily understand, laugh at and have fun’. Lesser mortals who were in large numbers voted for the idea. Majority won. Dabaang and Bodygaurd kind of cinema became the trendsetter.

Currently, the whole Kannada Film Industry is helplessly dancing to the tunes of the Majority audience. An entire industry is producing content which will make a bunch of 10 – 15 lakh people happy and keep them as consumers. 100+ films are made in a year, all of them desperately attempting to keep this mass interested. The industry hardly makes an attempt to reach out to the rest of 5.5 Crore Kannada audience. It doesn’t make any logical sense or business sense. And yet it is happening.

So is there no hope for the minority section?

There is one solution. The minority has to unite. We are educated, we are smarter, we are updated, we can think clear and faster. All that we have to do is – UNITE. Watch each others back and we will win over the majority. My current film – Lucia, is a working example of this. It took only 110 educated people to unite, to bring in a change. We have made a film which is free of market pressures, a film that is not desperately trying to keep the masses impressed. We didn’t have to think of how we would reach out to an uneducated audience. Instead we have made a film which will help this uneducated audience to think, to question, to take a step forward. Isn’t that progress? Wasn’t that the purpose of a film or any art? or was it really – entertainment, entertainment and entertainment. I can bet that the sad state of the Kannada Film Industry could be completely changed in a span of just one year. It only takes 10% of the educated crowd to actively get involved in bringing in this change.

If we could do this for a film which is not even a basic necessity! Cant we do this for our country? Can’t the educated unite and decide to take over the offices which are currently run by the demons.

Remember, we also wrote essays about – Unity is Strength. Lets put it out to practical application. Lets gift our children a better country and let them live with dignity. Let them be happy that they are educated. Let them feel that life could be fair too.

If we don’t act now, 20 years hence, our children will be struck in traffic, while a convoy will be escorting a good for nothing uneducated politician. And they’d be thinking “If only our parents hadn’t fucked up” (Pun intended)