Tuesday, 6 August 2019

Interview with filmmaker Amit Chauhan

Identity will be screening at the Straight-Jacket Guerrilla Film Festival

*How did you get into making films? 
Ans: Well, I got into filmmaking since I was a little kid...I'm a self taught filmmaker and I never went to a film school to learn filmmaking. I was a big time movie buff/ nerd since I was maybe 2-3 years old and movies were like an escape for me. Whenever I had some issues at my home or school or with people ,in general..I would just come back home and put on a movie and forget everything. I started making films when I was around 8-9 years old. Actually I'm in this business bcoz of my father...although he wanted me to become a big government official, when I grow up but whenever he saw me paint or make some new stuff...he would always encourage me and tell me to keep doing it no matter what happens. I must say that he was the one to light the spark in me. He used to love watching my stuff and listen to my very funny and hammy 'Read along comic book' tapes...which had these cheap homemade sound effects and very weird narration styles. I used to make small home movies, travelogues on a manually operated 8mm film camera...which didnt record audio on it. And you had to literally edit/ trim the film with a pair of scissors..to take out the unnecessary footage and piece the whole thing together with glue or tape. When I reached 20, I started assisting on some small Indie Film/ Documentary projects..whenever I was able spare a little time out of my business...I was into Event Management at that time. I mostly worked for free, bcoz money was not the motivation for me. I wanted more creative freedom or satisfaction, which I never had during my tenure in the events business. I was more interested in learning the craft rather then earning money...so I did my best to learn whatever I could..with my limited capacity at that time. Slowly, slowly I started making some short films and ad films...and after spending around 10 years in the business ...here I'm with my first feature project talking to you. 

*What inspired you to make your movie? 
Well, I had studied this particular case many years ago and I was very intrigued by the subject..coz it deals with the modern day problems and people's obsession with the virtual/ cyber world. People nowadays are more focussed on living artificial lives...superficial relationships have taken over real relationships...Virtual friends have become more important than real friends..likes are being traded for friendships..your online influence is more important than your real life influence... Private lives have become public affairs. People with fewer likes or followers are suffering from low self esteem / depression and people (actually a nobody in real life) with large number of followers are seen as a success or an achiever. All these all facts and issues inspired me to make this film. 

*How has your style evolved? 
Well, I'm constantly learning and being a student of the game..I'm always evolving. I'm always trying different styles and approaches to achieve the desired result. Being a realist..I try to see things from several different point of views..and sometimes i see things like an outsider from a vantage point and all of that can be seen in this film. My end target is to create a very realistic and humanistic style that connects with all people. Rather than over intellectualizing things..I want to create products...that are simple and easily understandable. 

*Tell us any strange or funny stories while making the film? 
Well, we had a lot of funny moments during the filming process..one thing that happened during the audio recording sessions was..that our main lead actor 'Shonit Sharma (Debutant) was constantly intimidated by our lead actress 'Naina Mishra's (Debutant) very aggressive and spontaneous style. He had been practising his dialogue pitch for more than a week but was not able to get the dialogues right. So finally 1 day before the recording session..he sorted everything out. But the next day..when it was time to do the voiceover sessions..he completely blanked out and forgot his dialogues. Our other main actor 'Ranjeet Pannu (Veteran theatre and Punjabi Film Actor) did his voiceover part in one take and in less then 11 mins...But our young star 'Shonit Sharma' was so stressed out.. that he locked himself in a room to remember the dialogues and it took him more then 1 hour and around 20 cigarettes to do the whole thing..so that was one of the funny things that happened during the filming part.. 

*The Misrule Film Movement & Pink8 manifesto bring what to mind? 
All power to the indie filmmakers around the world. I believe cinema is a tool and a reflection of the society. And the tool can definitely bring some change in people's perception if used in the right manner. Arts run the world and imagine how this world will look like, if there is no art in it. And like all other arts, films too are an expression that have been an integral part of society & history since a very long
time. And freedom of expression should not be killed..every human being has the right to express themselve..no matter what method or medium they choose to convey their message. I believe the Pink8 manifesto too conveys the same message without following the hard set rules set by the film industry and film corporations around the globe. 

*What can we expect from your next film? 
More grittier, exposing, off beat...pure arthouse cinema.