In 2014, short film incubators Humaramovie, founded by Vinay Mishra, Preety Ali and Pallavi Rohatgi, started a mentored film program called ‘Shuruaat’. The idea was to allow first-time filmmakers to tell their stories under the tutelage of experienced mentors like Imtiaz Ali, Vikramaditya Motwane, Anand Gandhi and Vikas Bahl. The result was a 96-minute anthology called Shuruaat Ka Interval.
This year Humaramovie has again handpicked seven new filmmaking voices who have been mentored by Mira Nair, Homi Adajania, Nagesh Kukunoor, Shyam Benegal, Sriram Raghavan, Zoya Akhtar and Imtiaz Ali. The theme that binds this anthology is Shor (Noise).
Ahead of its release on 16th December, the filmmakers of Shor Se Shuruaat – Amira Bhargava, Annie Zaidi, Arunima Sharma, Pratik Rajen Kothari, Rahul V. Chittella, Satish Raj Kasireddi, Supriya Sharma – tell us about the inception of their films, and what they learnt from their respective mentors.
Excerpts from the interview:
On What Shor Means To Them
Amira Bhargava: When I heard the theme, my instant thought was to do a silent film. Silent films come with their limitations and you have to keep the audience hooked. So I decided to introduce sound later. Aamer is a film that will strike a chord with you.
Annie Zaidi: Decibel is set in a time where sound is controlled by the state, at some unnamed time in the future. It seemed to me that complaining about noise is something we do quite a bit. I decided to flip it around. What if the things that bother you the most are taken away?
Arunima Sharma: In my story, there’s a girl with an overdeveloped sense of hearing. Then there’s the boy who has an overdeveloped sense of association with colours. His noise is visual. Yellow Tin Cup Phone is about how they end up meeting and finding ways to communicate. It’s not a pure romance – it’s quirky. I think the audience will like how I have used visuals and sound design to communicate the story.
Pratik Rajen Kothari: I was associated with a theatre group that performed short stories by Gulzar. We had poetry about Mumbai which said ‘Ishtihaaron ka shehar hain, shayad isme sirf ishtihaar rehte hain’. That’s where the idea of Hell O Hello came from. The noise here is consumerism. My film traces two salesmen of rival companies trying to sell a sim card.
Rahul Chittella: Actor Atul Kulkarni plays a journalist who speaks his mind. Azaad is about his dysfunctional relationship with his son.There’s a line that Atul says in the film – ‘You can shut the noise by shutting the windows and the doors. What about the noise within you?’ Our film has more to do with the inner noise, the conflicts that you have within you. It could be the shorof religion, discrimination, whatever.
Satish Raj Kasireddi: When I first heard the concept, I was writing a feature film. But it fit so well into this context that I wanted to make it. External noise is something you can deal with. Internal noise is something that disturbs a person more. Mia I’m deals with a very emotional aspect of a girl who is betrayed by her boyfriend.
Supriya Sharma: Shor has some kind of negativity attached to it. I just wanted to show sound in a slightly positive way. When you deprive us of the hustle and bustle that we complain about, you miss it because it adds light and life in a lot of ways. Dhvani is a story about a man on death row who is about to live the last few days of his life. What does he hope for? That’s the story of the film. It’s an experience of solitude that you can take back from.
On Learning From Their Mentors
Amira: Zoya (Akhtar) has always been a WhatsApp message away. We live close by and I keep popping in and showing her things. She saw my locations, my audition tapes, my script, my references. She even came for my edit one day. Her problem solving skills are amazing. That’s one big thing I picked up from her. In a shoot or in an edit, nothing ever goes according to plan. You have to think on your feet and Zoya is excellent that.
Annie: I’m the only person who hasn’t worked with my mentor professionally before. I met Sriram (Raghavan) as a writer. I went to him with all my ideas. He was there right through to the scripting stage. He even showed up for 5 minutes for shooting to encourage. He looked at the rough cut and gave feedback. He worked on sound also. Basically he was there for everything.
Arunima: I’m Homi (Adajania)’s associate director. Yellow Tin Can Telephone is my debut. Homi has been a friend and guide to me. He’s not been so directly involved, if I have to be honest. It’s not like he co-wrote it with me. He wasn’t on shoots. But at every step he was my friend – I’d share my concept, script and edits with him. This is my vision and he’s presenting it.
Pratik: When I was ideating, I bounced a few thoughts off him (Shyam Benegal). I was really keen on another idea but he kept discouraging me from doing that because he saw potential in this. Had he not persisted, this would have never been made. He is an encyclopedia of knowledge. I always thought directors should yell and work like task masters. But working with him I realized things happen smoothly because he has a good rapport with his team. He is approachable. When you have suggestions, they’re heard.
Rahul: I’ve worked with Mira (Nair) for about 6 years now. I started off as an assistant, then became her associate and then I started producing for her. She’s very collaborative. She’s famous for giving you responsibility. We were constantly in touch. Mira’s films are very rich but they’re also made using low budgets. So that kind of helped us make ours.
Satish: I have developed a rapport with Imtiaz (Ali) because I have worked with him for about 7 years. I called him up when I was sure of the idea and he loved it. It happened very smoothly – every time I had a huge doubt, I used to seek his help. When I had written this story the first time, he told me that even if I avoided some major chunks, the story would still make sense. He even used to email and message me when he was shooting in Amsterdam.
Supriya: I have worked with Nagesh (Kukunoor) for many years now. I feel comfortable with him. I know I’ll get honest feedback. He was instrumental throughout the whole process. Trying to decide between two or three ideas that I felt strongly for, I would always get valuable inputs from him. He did help me shape up the script. I would send him drafts and he would pinpoint what didn’t sound right.