Tell us about yourself. How did you become an artist?
Filmmaker! A dreamer! Quest to explore the unknown. That’s me.
I have always been fascinated by film. Growing up, movies were my window on the world.
I had read the book “Alfred Hitchcock interview” in college and decided to be a filmmaker. Kept no PlanB in life. So now I am a Filmmaker. Period.
During college time, I was able to participate in several professional productions and was fortunate to get into Mass communication , Pune university-India. This launched my career. From Pune city to Mumbai (India the city of dreams). In Mumbai, I held many minor roles in production teams, eventually becoming an visual effects director and finally a director.
My first short film was “Liftman-6X 4”, my debut film as “ Ho Sakta Hai” was India’s first film on black magic, the script is now a part of the Margaret Thatcher library. I have directed 4 horror feature films and more than 40 horror genre fiction shows on Indian channels. I have directed India's highest watched horror film “Kaalo” which has 73 million views on you tube.
Link to “Kaalo” film : first daylight creature horror film. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u0C-Hywcy7Q&t=247s)
I also work as a visual effects director and directed around 40 feature films as a visual effects director.
What was your first job in the art field?
With a master degree in communication studies from Pune University, specializing in film direction, my first job was making a filing record of TCR – (Tape Counter Reading) of each U-matic tape (analogue recording videocassette), in the total of 2500 tapes of a production company library.
“Welcome to the film Industry” is what I said to myself as I sat for one whole month just doing this Index sheet of TCR’s for the company.
Honestly that became a blessing in disguise for I became an Encyclopedia of Hindi film research material for the film company & so the company depended on me for all research work.
What makes you want to tell stories? In other words, what are the themes/issues you want to incorporate into your work?
Filmmaking offers a huge opportunity to create awareness and really touch people. It is such a powerful form of communication. I find it incredibly invigorating to write a story and to see it transformed into an audio-visual work. Filmmaking makes me go places and explore the unknown of the place and then bring out to our world this information in a narrative, cinematic info entertainment form . For me, it’s a way to interpret the human condition ,create awareness and really touch people, I always like to put this perception, infotainment, in short films, because of the attention span created by smart phones.
As a feature filmmaker, I'm interested in telling stories but purely in an entertainment form mostly of the thriller, mystery, suspense and paranormal genre.
Please tell us about your vision and your method of approaching a new project?
All said and done, first is a bound script with a storyboard.
On production, communicating with the cast and crew of a film production, I am working on is critical to my being an effective director. I have learned that the best way to go about this is to communicate clearly and frequently with everyone involved with the film.
Being from the visual effects background , in contrast, I actually follow the less-is-more philosophy and work hard to get the actors to carry the story, the narrative without any special/visual effects, intricate sets, or complex dialogue.
I believe the biggest mistake any director can make is thinking they know it all and have nothing else to learn. I take time to keep abreast of industry trends, technology, and creative ideas. I also go to work each day intending to learn something new.
I have a great deal of experience working with software editing and production tools. The thing I like about these tools is that they allow me to review our work daily rather than having to wait for the film to be developed and edited as it was done in previous eras.
I also limit myself to two to three edits per scene. I believe that any more than that and you are rapidly approaching what the original movie looked like.
Who are your filmmaking influencers? What are the films that were influential for you?
Among international filmmakers Alfred Hitchcock , Christopher Nolan , Martin Scorsese & Akira Kurosawa and in Indian filmmakers Guru Dutt and Hrishikesh Mukherjee. All their films have a tremendous impact on me.
Night Shyamalan’s Sixth sense and Unbreakable, had great influence in the making of my films, I usually prefer a twist at the end.
What advice would you give to aspiring artists? What are some of the things they must follow/avoid?
Independent filmmakers often find themselves in a “catch 22” situation. For example, you negotiate for named talent but the named talent does not want to sign on to your venture because you don’t have the financing in place but the financiers will not commit without the producer bringing assets, such as named talent, to the table. So it goes round and round. Filmmaking has its kind of hard work but with complete passion one can get it done but I feel the most important is selling and marketing of a film, which has to be imbibed by the new generation of filmmakers.
Filmmakers also should simply avoid cliche narratives and secondly not follow the hit trend method, instead, try always something experimental and new, for the audience are always looking out for changes in content because of the radical growth of streaming facilities.
How do you think the industry is changing? How has COVID affected independent filmmaking/creation?
The trouble with the pandemic is that people may be "less likely" to watch new films at the cinema, forcing it to focus on what consumers have fast become the way most people got their film and TV fixes. After the pandemic, the future of entertainment seems clearer, more people stream new movies from the comfort and safety of their own homes. Cinema will become reserved for more dedicated, niche audiences that will continue to support the theatres for years to come or high budgeted films with superstars and great content, may get in audience to the theatres.
Film industries have to adapt to the changes and serve both cinema and Ott streaming platforms and shell out for a wider section of audience termed as pan audience of different cultures & traditions. More capacity to reflect regional tastes and interests where subtitles get a big role to play than dubbing in different languages. Though challenging, a wide range of subjects can be worked upon by the film industries.
Do you think films/stories can bring about a change in the world?
Absolutely Yes, it has always been and will always be there, the format ,genre, narrative of stories and content might change but films the medium will remain forever and always change the world for good. New filmmakers are mushrooming all over because of digital medium, bandwidth of audience reach, which is a very good thing, they can tell a lot of stories because the economics in filmmaking has become quite cheap and accessible to them.
What do you think people like to watch these days? Has the pandemic changed people's taste?
Nowadays, people love to view different shows and films on television and in theatre respectively. However, they are more interested in seeing crime , thrillers & the paranormal genre with an emotional connection in the narrative. In my opinion, they see it because it is more entertaining. I believe that learning about possible crime incidents is the prime reason behind this change & for paranormal films, I think it just excites them more (the fear of the unknown). After covid to see too much emotional stuff or sad stories is a complete no, because I am pretty sure that they have been through covid times, they wouldn’t even like to think about it, forget watching it.
Please tell us about your upcoming projects.
A multi-lingual thriller feature film ,nature versus humans, ‘Awaakk”, to be filmed in Feb 2023. Along with it 16 short films,5 min each of the thriller genre. And yes to be a full-fledged film jury.
‘Why a Film Jury ? Because it’s an opportunity to give back. ‘It’s Films I live, breathe and study in. One of the things I enjoy most when I work is sitting on a Jury Panel.
Twenty years in film making, watched around 1500 to 2000 films. I research film festivals and put it all into jury service – it’s to reveal quite a different side to this part of the film world, Asia- India. I’ve had the great privilege of putting together juries for schools and institutes.
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