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From Tehelka Magazine, Vol 7, Issue 19, Dated May 15, 2010
CULTURE & SOCIETY  

‘Don’t Lie To Audiences’

MEET VIKRAMADITYA MOTWANE. HIS DEBUT FEATURE IS THE FIRST INDIAN FILM SELECTED BY THE CANNES FESTIVAL IN SEVEN YEARS

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Photo by ISHIKA MOHAN

Filmmaker Vikramaditya 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 Cannes.

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. Why filmmaking?
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.

WRITER’S EMAIL
rishi@tehelka.com

From Tehelka Magazine, Vol 7, Issue 19, Dated May 15, 2010
 

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