Not a very long ago there was a young man, who stayed far far away from the City of Dreams, in the Abode of Clouds. Just like a blind dreamer, he chased the clouds to reach the colourful city where he had sown the seeds of his passion. Then began his days of struggle.
Sometimes the highs and sometimes the lows. Sometimes the good amount of light and sometimes cheap candlesticks. Sometimes good shared laughter and sometimes days where he might’ve cried till his tears dried. Maybe like any other dreamer. The wave felt almost okay when life kicked him off the edge and all around the city, there were silent whispers of what happened. It felt like time ceased to exist. It shook his beliefs and he nearly, almost, gave up. However, the young guy with dreams believed in himself and sailed through the storms. And he is here, with his first movie in hand, excited and nervous, both to see his dream happen for real, ON REEL.
BEFORE YOU GO FORWARD TO READ, HE SAYS…
This is indeed, very personal to me. It was a very emotional and eventful journey right from its inception to the final output. A mother keeps on nourishing her baby, from the time the baby is in her womb until the time the baby actually grows up. In the same way, ‘My Friend’s Dulhania’ has been a part of me from way back to the time its idea even existed and will be with me for my entire life. Irrespective of the outcome, we are always a bit partial to our first love and our first born child.
SO ONCE UPON A TIME…
Mudasir who is the lead actor of ‘My Friends Dulhania’(MFD) and also my roommate, narrated a script to me that he had successfully pitched. It was for a web series. I loved it and we immediately jumped into the project. After we completed our shoot, my co-director and producer Mr O.P Rai suggested that we turn the web series into a feature-length film. We went back to the drawing board and expanded the main plot and the subplots. The first act of the story, which wasn’t quite prominent in the web series was properly fleshed out and all the loose ends were tied. Finally, the script was ready and soon we were on a train to Jammu to shoot the second schedule of our web series; which had now transmuted into a full-length feature film.
THERE WAS A BOY AND A GIRL…
My Friend’s Dulhania is a story about a young man Aryan, who gets a call from his old college friend Sajad, inviting Aryan for his wedding in Kashmir. Aryan along with his other two college friends, Harsh and Sneha, who have settled in different places, hop into the same train to attend the wedding. But once in Kashmir, Aryan gets the shock of his life when he finds out that the girl who his friend is marrying is none other than his ex-girlfriend who had suddenly disappeared from his life without any explanations. The cause and effect; thesis and antithesis; which results after this discovery, is what constitutes the crux of the film.
I already have a script ready for a bi-lingual movie which is set in Meghalaya and Assam. It will be made in Oxomiya and Hindi.
OMG, AND THE GIRL…?
There is this incident that happened during the shoot, but I would term the incident as “frightening” rather than “interesting”. Nevertheless, it is unforgettable. It happened when we were shooting in the snow-capped mountains of Gulmarg. Although it was summer, the temperature of the place where we were shooting was below freezing point. Unfortunately, our lead actress Shaina developed frostbite and collapsed. We immediately brought her down to the camp where the entire crew and locals started taking care of her. It was a painful experience for Shania but we kept on motivating her relentlessly, also making sure her body temperature didn’t stoop down. Fortunately, everyone’s efforts paid off and soon her body temperature became normal again. We all breathe a sigh of relief and thanked God that a major accident was averted.
BUT HOW DID IT HAPPEN?
The film was shot in real locations. We did guerilla shooting inside the train and railway stations and would instantly hide the camera when we would see any railway personnel. We had also shot in a real wedding to get a more authentic feel, other than shooting in manually crafted film sets. We had used a drone camera to shoot some static shots, by taking off its blades and covering the sensor lights with a cloth. Now, this is a unique feature in itself because a drone camera is used for shooting aerial, bird view shots and not static shots.
Under the guidance of noted writer, Rajesh Beri, I was involved in the writing of several soaps and serials for UTV.
As far as the narration and storytelling of the film is concerned, I believe that MFD throws a new perspective on relationships, especially to the modern day world. It narrates how we can still hold onto innocence and purity despite our present day “complicated” approach towards everything.
It is an entertaining film which will appeal to an audience of all age groups. I don’t claim that MFD is a mindless entertainer where the makers suggest the audiences to leave their brains at home. At the same time, it is not a preachy film which gives a bombastic gyan to its audience. It’s a very simple film with a bittersweet interesting story. The movie will entertain the audience and for a few hours, they will forget their own pain. So one can say that MFD is a paisa vasool film with an entertaining yet sensible content.
Subash Ghai or SG (as he is popularly known in the institute)… A line that he often says is that sometimes de-learning is as important as learning.
AND MY GURU, SUBHASH GHAI’S GYAN…
The year after my graduation I went to Mumbai and got enrolled in a film school run by Subash Ghai called Whistling Woods. The film school, not only helped me learn the basics of filmmaking but also helped me see myself grow as a filmmaker. Subash Ghai or SG (as he is popularly known in the institute) frequently visited the institute to share his knowledge and wisdom with his students. A line that he often says is that sometimes de-learning is as important as learning. When you leave the institute and start working in the field, you have to go and de-learn the process every time. He would also recount his days as a struggling artist and how he made it until the end, to finally make it big. After completing my course I became an assistant writer for UTV. Under the guidance of noted writer, Rajesh Beri, I was involved in the writing of several soaps and serials for UTV. I left UTV after some time and mainly did freelancing which also involved assistance in films, commercials, casting and pitching my own film scripts. Finally, lady fortune smiled at me and I got an opportunity to be a part of My Friend’s Dulhania.
AND THIS IS HIS OWN GYAN…
During my college days, I started watching many Hollywood movies and World Cinema. I was hooked by the way they choose their subject and the way they expressed them, as opposed to the formulaic mainstream Bollywood films which are filled with cliché plots and characters being stereotyped. At around the same time, I had also written and directed several plays which morphed my interest into an ardent passion. I believe when the seedling is nurtured properly it can grow into a fruit-bearing tree. Hence as a community, we should encourage the youth, especially young kids to pursue and develop their artistic faculty and support them in every possible way. Every caste and community has their own unique culture, heritage and history. And it is only through art, irrespective of the medium that we can express our cultural richness and let the whole world marvel at its splendour. Creation of art along with its expression and appreciation is a basic and vital need that we all yearn for. As Robin Williams beautifully puts it in Dead Poets Society, “…medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for”.
AND THE FUTURE?
As a matter of fact, I already have a script ready for a bi-lingual movie which is set in Meghalaya and Assam. It will be made in Oxomiya and Hindi. I have plans to explore the rich history and culture of North East by basing several scripts on these subjects. India is a land of rich diversity and culture and is a cradle of so many stories. Yet filmmakers pick the easy way and choose to copy from their Hollywood or Asian counterparts. At the present date, movies from North East India have become strong technically while retaining the same level of originality and unembellished storytelling. Due to the dominance of digital media, cost of filmmaking has gone down, leading to the establishment of many talented filmmakers from this region. Even the film festivals are sprouting all over the country, as opposed to earlier times, when they have been mostly held abroad. So I am looking forward to creating something like that. As a filmmaker, I want to tell Indian stories like it is unheard of.