Sudhanshu Saria’s debut feature LOEV, about the romance between two old friends, had its world premiere at the Tallinn Black Nights Festival in Estonia. Since then, it has travelled to the South By SouthWest (SXSW) Film Festival, the Guadalajara International Film Festival, and several other film festivals. It also won the Best Film Audience Choice Award at the Tel Aviv International LGBT Festival. Saria, who did his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Film and Photography from the Ithaca College in New York, has directed two award-winning short films in the past.
Excerpts from a quick chat:
His cinematic journey
I was content consuming insane amounts of movies without actually becoming a filmmaker. It wasn’t until I saw Monsoon Wedding and heard Mira Nair’s now popular manifesto about how “if we don’t tell our stories, no one will” that really resonated with me. It’s the reason why I got off the couch to start making films and it’s the only criteria I apply when I’m thinking of which project to do. This was probably in college – early 2002.
My first ever project was a college assignment. It was a 3 minute black and white film shot on a Bell and Howell camera about a coin that was rolling across the frame charting the course of person’s life from a baby to death.
The story behind LOEV
When I landed in Bombay about 2-3 years ago after spending almost a decade in Los Angeles, the Section 377 was repealed. It was a curious society I saw around me full of contradictions. I met LGBT people who were not outraged, comfortably living their lives and weren’t really bothered by the legal interpretation of their love. In that milieu, I wanted to tell a love story which in a way had nothing to do with LGBT identity. It was my way of honouring this experience. I think it’s just love at the end of the day. Men and women kept on practicing what they were doing before. Their LGBTness did not change the nature of their love. I found that to be a radical political thought. The film then became my own little protest.
Why the film holds universal appeal
Because we’re the land of love stories. We’re the land of Yash Chopra and Karan Johar. Who doesn’t like a good old-fashioned love story?
The filmmaker he is envious of
Steven Soderbergh. He seems to switch genres and budgets and styles. His films go from cerebral to intellectual to crowd-pleasing effortlessly and with ease. He goes from art-house to commercial and none of it seems to compromise his intention. And he has a very motivated, purposeful, intentional direction in his career.
I’m doing Student Of The Year 3 (laughs). I’m obviously kidding. Do people who have films in India Gold have projects lined up? All of us barely got our films made (laughs).
I wrote a feature before I wrote LOEV which was a little bit more expensive. And now that project seems to have found its financing so I’m doing a bit of rewriting for the company and I’m hoping to go into production in the spring of next year.
Freshman tip for filmmakers
First: One: Be honest. Be brutally honest. Be naked. Be vulnerable. You owe it to your audience. You’re going to take up time in the public sphere. You have to make sure you give them the truth.
Second: Do not compare. Don’t ask for help. Don’t look outside. Don’t compare your journey to anyone else’s. It’s completely futile. Chart your own journey. Do your own thing and do it honestly.
Catch LOEV at MAMI on