The Hard Truth

February 9, 2012 in Uncategorized

     Off late I have been getting too many requests from people who want to work with me. I want to tell them and the others the hard truth. No one will ever tell you this, and that’s the reason why things around us are the way they are.

Stop fantasizing about feature films. Stop glorifying the idea of getting to make a film and releasing it in a movie theatre. The game out here is not what it appears to be from the other side. As dreamers, we dream of making feature films and releasing them in the theatres. We think, that’s what is called as success.  I have written for three feature films, acted in six and directed one, and when I talk about realities, you must take it seriously for your own good.

Please understand that film making in India is less of art and more of business. The sooner you get that, the happier you are. So you must decide whether you want to do business or films. This decision will take you in two different directions. So please do decide what you want to do.

Feature films that release in theatres is all about branding and business. Its the new circus. Don’t get here with dreams to tell a novel story. Your job would be to provide entertainment, entertainment that a 6 year old can understand. To excel in this area, you need skills in marketing and PR, more than the skill of film making. The majority of the audience don’t care whether you have anything new to tell, they want to be fooled into thinking that you are saying something new. Its a circus, you must know how to get the most popular clown and then spice it up with some hot chics and then add little action here and there. Ask yourself if you know how to do all this? The sad part is that no one teaches you these things, nobody can. The skills required to do all of these things is inborn and those talented people eventually make it big and are known as successful filmmakers. And there is nothing wrong in being able to do that. In fact it is very difficult, more difficult than making something from the heart. I am one of the less talented guys in this area of film making and I am wondering how to get better at this. So if you are someone who is dreaming to do all of that, then stop watching foreign films, stop being smart and intelligent, instead try being innocent. Start brushing up skills on marketing and building contacts. Most of the producers and studio all over the country will not look what script you are carrying, they will see which star has given you the dates. It might sound bad, but that’s the truth, get in terms with that. A major production house told me that I must write scripts which a 6 year old should be able to understand and that’s when they will produce it, they said this after watching lifeu Ishtene and knowing how successful it was commercially.

Am I against commercial films? Am I complaining? Nope, not a bit. When there is a demand, there is a supply, there is nothing wrong in that. I am just asking the new breed to know what they want to get into. Some of you may want to come and change things, that could be your plan. Its a plan everyone comes with, including me. Some of the film makers you hate now also started with the same intention. Recently a senior producer whom I met said – ‘Its easy to wake up someone who is sleeping, but impossible to wake up someone who is pretending to sleep’. This was his way of advising me not to be too creative with what I write for commercial cinema. I believe that the majority of the theatre going audience don’t want to wake up. Time and again the statistics has proved that right. They want the circus. At this point some of you will list out a handful of films which were out of the box and still were successful commercially. But you don’t know what the film maker goes through after such films. We appreciate Anurag Kashyup, we are in awe of the films he makes but his every new film is a struggle for him. Its like starting all over again. But he enjoys this process, so he keeps going through that. But are all dreamers cut out for such hardships? Only they can tell. Getting my first film was a lot easier than getting the second one. No one knew what I could do last year. Now they know how Lifeu Ishtene was and it scares them that I might end up doing something like that again, I am constantly advised to make something commercial. For a commercial producer, Lifeu Ishtene is not a film they would want to make, though it made profits, they always want to play safe. So all those of you out there inspired by my story of making lifeu ishtene, please know these facts and then contact me. Paper article tend to glorify our careers, don’t fall for it.

You all know that one in a million eventually gets to run the circus. What about the rest? Honestly, I feel the rest are in a better place. If you are someone who is new with all the zeal, by trying to be my assistant or anybody’s assistant, you are wasting your time. The world is changing really fast. And everyone is changing differently within their own geographical regions. The theatre going audience in India is way different from the ones outside India. It is very natural for a young dreamer to be inspired by foreign films, most of the times that is your seed to become a film maker. But 10 years from the day the seed was sown, you will be a very frustrated person, if you try to follow the old methods.

I want you all to be part of the new wave. Stop thinking about being on Filmy Funda or Zoom TV. Start thinking about being on millions of laptops and Ipads. Start making the films you want to make. Don’t fall into the commercial cinema crap trap. The technology today is filmmaker friendly. Think new. commercial cinema will give you budgets, but it will tweak your dream into a product that the market is demanding. Trust me, this process is not fun at all.

So my advice to all the new dreamers is that, be a story teller. Use the technology and tell a story, there are audience all over the world who want to watch good stories, it is the same audience who don’t go to the cinema halls anymore, and they are in majority. Why make commercial feature films by selling your soul when only a small percentage of audience will watch it, instead make what you want and release it worldwide online, you might not make as much money as you make in commercial cinema but you will be able to sleep better. My new initiative Home Talkies is to support this idea and trust me that’s the future. Watch Iranian cinema. See what they did in pressure and constraints. Develop your own style of telling a story, it will make you unique. That’s what the whole world will appreciate. Don’t dream of 3 weeks of theatrical fame and lose your soul, its not worth at all. I am not just advising this to the young, I am going to start doing the same very soon. I was never cut out to run a circus anyway, I wish I was because I could have made loads of money :)

Please see Christopher Nolan’s First feature film – Following. A film that made me a filmmaker. You must see the film and then watch it  again with nolan’s commentary. He made this film with no producer, shot only on weekends and worked jobs on weekdays. All the actors are his friends and family members. He showcased this film at film festivals, and asked people to donate money to make memento. Today he is the man who can make Inception!

Whenever I am a little low, I watch Following, it reminds me that – I am my own limitation!