Tehelka Magazine, Vol 7, Issue 19, Dated May 15, 2010
‘Don’t Lie To
MEET VIKRAMADITYA MOTWANE. HIS DEBUT
FEATURE IS THE FIRST INDIAN FILM SELECTED BY
THE CANNES FESTIVAL IN SEVEN YEARS
|Photo by ISHIKA MOHAN
Motwane is serious and reticent.
He prefers to write his answers in, rather
than speak them out. When pressed to
speak, he mumbles. The quiet 33-yearold
has worked with filmmakers Sanjay
Leela Bhansali and Anurag Kashyap.
He has been cinematographer, sound designer
and assistant director. He has
co-written Dev D’s stellar script. And
now, he has made Udaan – his debut
feature is the first Indian film in seven
years to be officially selected for
Excerpts from an interview
with RISHI MAJUMDER:.
What does the ‘Cannes’ tag do for
a film or a filmmaker?
It’s a huge thing to be short listed with
Jean-Luc Godard and Manoel De
Oliveira. But for Indian audiences these
olive leaves on the film’s banner bore.
They see a film for what it is to them. I
wouldn’t play up the Cannes tag. It
could be counterproductive. I’ve made Udaan for India — not for the festivals.
You wanted to join the family business.
I had first-hand experiences of working as an apprentice at my dad’s electronics
factory. Then as production assistant
for Teen Talk, a television show my
mum produced. Here, I saw this world
where magical scenarios were created
with camera, light and sound. I dabbled,
and stuck on.
What have Sanjay Leela Bhansali and
Anurag Kashyap taught you?
I learnt everything about filmmaking
from Bhansali — how to shoot, break a
scene, and edit. He’s technically
really good — especially in the
way he shoots songs. From
Anurag I learnt spontaneity.
He’s the opposite of Sanjay, who’s
very studied and meticulous. Anurag
will write a film in three days and want
to shoot it the next day. He believes if
you overthink something, you’ll ruin it.
What inspired Udaan?
I wanted to make a coming-of-age film. I
visited Jamshedpur and decided to set it
there. The idea of a kid working in a factory
came from my own apprenticeship.
Characters were drawn from literature
and from family. I figured out the end
before the beginning. But the beginning
gave me the tone. Once I had the beginning, it took me three weeks to write it.
Did a small budget hinder you?
No, I knew what I was getting into. I
didn’t shoot on 35 mm but on 16 mm
film — and gave the film an edgy,
grainy look. Also, I stuck to deadlines.
I was lucky to have actors who were
newcomers or television actors who are
used to working on tight schedules.
Also, except for Ronit [Roy] and Ram
[Kapoor], all of us travelled by train.
And we stayed at a cheap hotel,
scrimping to invest in the film.
You’ve said that small-budget filmmakers
are making the mistake of
trying to make big budget films.
Say there’s a classic love triangle with
Shah Rukh [Khan], Salman [Khan] and
Priyanka [Chopra]. Why would anyone
want to watch it small budget, without
stars? Also, the marketing. Manorama
— Six Feet Under, which was noir, was
publicised by Shemaroo as a love
triangle — like big budget films are
publicised. Ek Chaalis Ki Last Local
was publicised with a Neha Dhupia
music video. No Smoking had the same
problems. The audience doesn’t like
being lied to.