Thursday, September 17, 2009

A journey Manasaare :)

Hey people... my film releases next week... i had written a huge mail to a group of film makers... i am sending the same to u all... it sums up my experience of making the film. its LONGGGG so read it when u have time... hopefully its a interesting read :)

I am Pawan. Many of you might have received mails from me earlier. And for those who are new to this group... I was one of the few guys who was there at the first brtff in 2007. and had screened my short film . And i was there that night after finishing about 5 years in theatre and just one year of baby stepping in films. In the last 2 years things have changed within me so much... i remember all the gyan tht i spoke on that day and the way i am now today. I thought this mail could open up some thoughts in many of you and could help you choose your path right. A small write up about my mistakes and some good choices and some learning. Could be very very boring :) Mostly for beginners like me.... professionals plz dont read this :)

I remember saying things like... there are no producers who come forward to fund films that we talented youngsters have written. That how everything is all wrong... and that we should collect money and promote digital film making... low budget filming... On the whole i was very 'I am so right and so unlucky'. And now after 2 years, my first feature film will release on 25th this month and I am so ashamed of all the things i said on that day. I think life has a way of answering our questions :)

Manasaare is the film. its about 2.5Cr budget film. And i have official credit for screenplay and Acting, but unofficially i was almost second in command for all the departments. And before making this film, yogaraj and me and spent a year writing a film called lagori that needed a budget of 13Cr minimum and 10 days before the shoot we shelved it bcoz of recession.

And during the process of film making a lot of my perceptions were tweaked. For those who don't know, i come from a theatre background and all the plays i have directed are highly experimental, they are layered, loaded with all sorts of figures of speech... etc etc; basically trying to show how intellectual i could get. And everybody thought that if i made a film it would be something like that. Infact my short films were also similar. So when i found myself with Yogaraj bhat in jan last year... i had no intention of working with him... for me he was someone i would look down at for making COMMERCIAL films like Mungaru male and Gaalipatta. I was just sitting there... trying to be the smart me... internally smirking at what he would speak. But in just about sometime... as the conversation progressed... I was enjoying it. This man has seen and appreciates and loves all the films tht we think are THE films. He has seen all of akira and more than 10 times each... remembers shot by shot. He is a huge fan of george lucus, copolla and all others we think are gods. As i got to know the man more... i had only one question... why make films like THIS when you look up to people like THAT. And he talks about all the great books. And the smart smirk intellectual me has not even read a couple of those. I figured that this is the guy i have to explore and learn from. And it started. He not once treated me like i was his assistant... and it was very clear from the start that i wasnt. He respected my works from the past... he not once had the false ego of being the BIG director. He himself thinks both his movies were crap. All this just got us talking a lot. And in no time... we knew we could work together. Very soon i got so comfortable that i could easily point out mistakes in what he would come up with. If there was something i didint like.. i could just say it. didnt have to think he was some 15 years more in the industry. And he would really take my opinions seriously.

And working with him opened up this mammoth chapter on films called 'commercial' cinema. At the end of 21 months with him... i have figured that making a successful commercial film is way tougher than making a film that we want to make from the heart.

For those who want to get ahead from here... i will try to tell about my understanding of how we made the film... it might help you if u want to get to doing this sometime yourself. For those who really believe in the kind of cinema which classifies as GREAT cinema, which will be timeless, which might not make money, which will win awards, which will not be watched by Tom dick harry rama lakshmana krishna but the few others..... you might want to delete this mail now :)

The constant question when we were writing was "Will this scene make sense to a layman, will he be entertained or emotionally touched, will he want to see the next scene" . Anything we wrote, had these questions answered. But there was a parallel question too "Is this what we (we being Pawan and yogaraj for whoever we think we are as) want to tell our audience, does this scene make us compromise with our way of looking at life, does this entertain or touch us" . As we wrote many drafts, we subconsciously were answering these questions. And we never shy ed away from accepting the mediocrity of the work we were producing. Honestly becoz we both think that a great film is something else altogether and it requires a lot more work and talent than what we had collectively. Your question would be... then why celebrate mediocrity? and the answer is... that at the end of any kind of intellectual masturbation we do... a producer is funding it... and he atleast needs to get back him money. And the audience who pay money to watch a film enjoy celebrating mediocrity. Not all of them...but yes a large percentage of them. During my first brtff i was not falling for such lines... but i had to do this journey to see it. And you might want to argue that with me... but trust me there is no other truth in this. The numbers speak that. So all that we were trying was to make a polished, fresh, entertaining, long living mediocre product. And we tried our best to satisfy our creative needs in doing this. If as a film maker, my personal need is to show you something, to communicate with you something... I have 2 choices. I can do it in a highly internalized form by layering it with all the philosophy, spirituality, ART, etc etc... and have a few thousands of them liking it. or i could show you the same thing... in much torn down simplistic version and have a few lakhs understanding it, enjoying it but i will definitely lose those few thousands bcoz this would look very stupid to them. We have to make the choice. I guess the only GREAT film maker who didnt have to make this choice was - Chaplin. He just touched everyoneeeeeee.

And shooting on film instead of Digital has its own benefits. Seeing the images on the big screen is brilliant. A film is not just story telling with lines or emotions... today one has to be competent about presentation... must know how to use the available technology. With our digital short films we tend to shoot anything we want and for however long we want... there isnt a raw stock thats running out. In the film, it forces you to think twice before you start camera... and that was so amazing to do. everytime the camera was rolling... i'd be thinking 'am i doing right?' . NOTHING i mean NOTHING can be taken for granted.... an entire day's work would yield only about 1 to 1.5 min of the film. The challenges that one faces on the sets is only understood when experienced. And it is real... with money running every minute. Seeing the actors perform something that was written months ago, changes the way you saw the scene. Many times i changed many things that yog and me had talked about. And sometimes you just cant and the only option is to improv with whatever you got. it is for that and only for tht challenge that i'd get back to making another film. And if we keep aside all the creative aspects... and talk about the other stuff. All i can say is... if you are a film maker, then you must experience the joy of ordering 100 people on the set. They simply follow your instruction. Its such a kick but at the same time every minute is scary... bcoz at no point you are 100% sure that if whatever you are asking them to do is the best way to do!!!

After having been through the entire process, I have kind of torn and thrown all my scripts. I am no more jumping at the idea of making something quickly with less homework. Realized that film making ... the BIG feature kind of film, it can NEVER be a single persons work. A director is someone who gets the right things to happen... but there are so many talented people who make it happen for you. Writing a scene was so easy, but to make it look like what it was in my head... it took a minimum of 70 people. One can never take the credit fully. And i guess we all actually know that. And at the end of the experience i no longer call myself a filmmaker coz i think there is so much more I have to learn before i get there. this project i am hiding behind yogaraj for everything... while shooting... all those 70 people are looking at him... tht is scarry. I think he deserves to be where he is bcoz he knows how to handle those 70 stares :)

So thats that. I mean... there is a lot i could tell... if you guys want to ask anything. To sum up -

See my film on 25th sept. I am proud of my work for this commercial film. I still can and will do prominently art stuff in theatre and that doesnt make me shy away from taking the credit for making a film like this. I have tried to write and present it in a form that would make anyone understand what i am trying to say... without much of taxing the brains. It will entertain (or so we think).