Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Sudhir Mishra: I see actors as my co-writers who help me write scenes

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Veteran filmmaker Sudhir Mishra is known for his intimate human dramas of everyday dramas. In an exclusive chat with The Pioneer, the filmmaker who is coming up with two new projects, shares some exclusive insights about the project, and also takes us through his humble beginnings.

“I cannot make a Sanjay Bhansali film just because he is more successful commercially. I can admire him and his work but not make it. I have stayed true to what i like to do. I do stories that attract me.”

Tejal Sinha

Films make it possible for creators to express the most convoluted human emotions in the best way possible.One such filmmaker is the veteran filmmaker Sudhir Mishra.What Sudhir Mishra created was a vision of cinema as an expressive art form, an inspirational form, and a sense of connectedness to a larger and serious international and niche national artistic enterprise that is motivated by the drive to know and represent the world adequately.

To reach that stage of life which you’ve always dreamt of, one has to go through a lot of hardships.Many filmmakers, and actors have shared multiple times that there were days when they had to wait in long queues for auditions, sleep on the streets, and whatnot.

He’s someone who was always surrounded by people around the film fraternity. His father was a founding member of the Lucknow Film Society, while his brother Sudhanshu Mishra, to whom he credits to have learnt much of his cinema, was a student of the film institute.
His entry to the film industry was after he got an opportunity to accompany the renowned journalist Vinod Dua who set out to interview film director Vinod Chopra, whose short film was going for the Oscars back then.

Sharing with us what happened after the interview that led him to work at a young age in the film industry, he said, “When I spoke to Vinod Chopra, he was like ‘you seem to know a lot about cinema’ and I was like ‘yes I’m very much interested’. He called me to work with him. He was making this film called Sazaye Maut. I was everything in that film, I was the chaprasi, did production, lifted cans and also became the main assistant and in that film. In those days Kundan, Vinod, and Saeed, all were classmates from the film institute.

My brother was in the same school and I somehow met Kundan who was the production manager for the film. He was writing a script and used to come to my house. Back in those days, people had this passion and madness and we started working on Jaane bhi do yaaron.”

An unknown fact about the film, even the actors who’d done the film, did not believe that the film would do go. However, when they’d performed the Chameli filmmaker said, “They had performed brilliantly. I am the product of the generosity of so many people including Shekhar Kapur, Ketan Mehta, Javed Akhtar, and Mahesh Bhatt they kind of adopted me. I was their favourite young boy back then. I used to eat and sometimes even slept at their house.”

With every single passing day, we get to see the fake news era to only and only evolving. Everyday we come across several rumours, be it about a happening in the nation or about renowned people. A film evolving around fake news is soon going to hit the cinemas called Afwaah. As the name of the film itself suggests Rumours, and helmed by Sudhir Mishra, is set to hit the screens on February 24.

Sharing with us some exclusive insights, the Dharavi helmer says, “Afwaah is a quirky thriller. These days it’s the time of paranoia, false facts are believed and whatever is spread people tend to believe and sometimes there are serious repercussions. It’s a thriller that starts with a rumour, and the rumor spirals out of control and becomes a night of terror for the protagonist. It shows the power of rumour.

Hitler’s main man Joseph Goebbels said if you want to create more smoke, people will think that’s fire. It’s one of the laws of propaganda. And thats what is happening in the film. One spreads rumours, and people tend to believe in it.”

On the other hand, the Khoya Khoya Chand filmmaker has been the showrunner for the webseries Jehanabad- Of Love & War, created and written by Rajeev Barnwal, the show is directed by Rajeev Barnwal and co-directed by Satyanshu Singh. It will release on SonyLiv on February 3.

“I had mentored Rajeev, and also worked on the casting, and the complete post-roduction. It’s based on a real incident of the biggest jailbreak in Indian history. It involved Naxalism and Naxalites but here again, we are telling a story and in the characters, you don’t morally judge anyone. It follows a young girl who gets enamoured and then you get to explore all the characters. We realise the corruption of politics, what leads to people becoming who they are. It’s not a glorification of anything. Its just what happened. Sony Liv has been one of the platforms that helps us bring out such stories and I’m sure it’s gonna do very well.”

Over the time, the makers connect to casting directors who cast different experienced actors or debutantes too.However, according to the Inkaar helmer, everything should emanate from the script.

“When you read the script carefully, a face automatically comes in the mind. The role will walk towards this one person.You just have to be true to the script. One has to listen to what the script is telling to you.Then it becomes very easy otherwise you get these 500 choices. I look for the person that best suits the part. I love actors and I work with them a lot. A lot of people say you handle actors well. I don’t handle actors, I just work with them. They are not puppets to handle them. I see actors as my co-writers. They help me write a scene.”

He expresses a lot of optimism about the power of cinema to change our perspective towards a rigid society. Backed by the strength of their storytelling and sculpted narrative, most of his films have reinvigorated the art of cinema with a dewy identity and the possibility of the existence of a sensible and mature cinema.

Asked about if he believes that his out-of-the-box concepts has helped him establish aesthetic conventions, to which he says, “Through our films, we inspire a few other people and then few makes films inspired by us but they are more mainstream. As a filmmaker, you have to listen to who you are. I cannot make 20 different things, I am not supremely talented. I am talented in some areas. I know how to do some things well. I have to listen to that and not mimic anyone else just because of the box office. I cannot make a Sanjay Bhansali film just because he is more successful commercially. I can admire him and his work but not make it. I have stayed true to what i like to do. I do stories that attract me.

I tried to do a film called Calcutta Mail in a different way and I failed miserably.”
His films are intimate human dramas that illuminate the politics of everyday life and are affected by the forces of socio-political reactionism.Off late, Bollywood had been going through a tough phase until King Khan made his comeback with Pathaan. Several good films failed at the box office due to the Boycott trend. And, Sudhir Mishra’s films goes beyond societal norms. “Everybody makes films according to them and everybodys films are political in their own way.

They represent the more established kind of politics or an established kind of tradition. Popular cinemas accept a lot of traditions like ladki aisi hoti hai, ladki ki jagah yeh hoti hai, shaadi aisi honi chahiye. Women in my pictures are different. They revolt, react are independent so there’s another kind of politics.We are making all kinds of films that we can. What is art? It is the best way of what you wanted to tell. I am who I am. I don’t think anything else or other people judging me for who I am. I am not a critic,” shares the Main Zinda Hoon helmer, who shares that he has got more than 20 films in his bank.

It was once one of the greatest filmmaker Akira Kurasava had said in a film festival, “All these young filmmakers have the time that they should have about 20 stories in bank to tell, if they are actually filmmakers.” Sudhir who was also present during the talk said that he actually followed this, “There were 20-22 young directors at the festival, who had made their first or second films. He told us that you should make the film that you want to and not just told to you. It should come from within us. If you’re a filmmaker, keep writing.

That lesson I had learned. Even if I don’t have films to make, I just go to my office and write and thats the only advice I give to young filmmakers to keep writing and working. Even if you’re not getting paid, just keep writing. It’s a practice that’ll even keep you away from several mental issues and you never know, one day, which film gets made.”

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