It’s been 12 years since Dibakar Banerjee’s directorial debut Khosla Ka Ghosla released. The film, about a retired man (Anupam Kher) fighting to get back his piece of land from a corrupt property dealer (Boman Irani), gave us an instinctive and layered insight into middle class life. “Just the fact that I was making a film finally, after having spoken about it for so many years, I thought that all I had to do was be very planned and it would happen. That was arrogance,” he says. Five more feature-length films later, Banerjee tells us what advice he would give first-time directors. Excerpts from an interview:
Anupama Chopra: What’s your advice to first-time filmmakers?
Dibakar Banerjee: No matter where you reach on the script, cut down 10 pages.
Anupama Chopra: Really?
DB: That’s the first advice. Then after you cut down 10 pages, wherever you reach, now see if you can cut down 10 pages. The second advice is, don’t get into the set without a workshop. If you’ve not workshopped with some actor or the other, then be extra prepared. Third piece of advice would be: There are days when you need to know the number of shots and you have to finish them. There are days when you need to forget and lean on someone else, but this won’t happen on the first film. Forget it. I didn’t do it, I just used to furiously plan. So my advice is to plan. It’s only after you plan that you can be spontaneous. The biggest thing if you’re a first-time director – hide your love away.
AC: Hide your love away?
DB: Yeah. Don’t let people know what you are aching for in terms of the scene.
DB: You become vulnerable.
AC: What do you mean?
DB: If you’re really, really nervous about a scene or if you’re really going somewhere about a scene, just be prepared and don’t make other people nervous about it.
DB: If you start telling the DoP, ‘YOU KNOW…’ Bass. If he’s trying to help you, then he’ll put five more lights or whatever so just hide your love away and try and be poker-faced about things that you’re very excited about. What else? Don’t panic. It’ll end. Another way of saying it is: Don’t panic, it is not going to get released. You’re safe. That’s what I keep telling myself. Don’t panic, it’ll never release. So just keep on doing what you’re doing and that’s it.