From VJ to a filmmaker, how did the transition come about?
The passion was always there to be a part of the industry and to make contacts with people in the industry. I became a VJ in fact to familiarize myself with the industry and its work. I tried getting my ideas across to them. The journey has been a long one. It is about to become fruitful too. I have tried to put across my ideas to the industry guys and it is about to bear fruit.
13th Floor is an 80-minute film starring two actors only. What is the story in a nutshell?
It is about Mumbai city, two strangers, one evening, an unusual situation and what happens next.
Why did you choose to make it on a PD Digital camera?
Well it was of course the money. We went to a lot of press people who were once interested in financing our project but we were asked to wait. Waiting with them would mean to wait forever. Hence we decided to do something small with minimal characters, small sets, less requirements and hence we came up with this idea of doing this film this way.
How did you manage to finish the film in 6 days flat?
It was quite a challenge to do that. We had two actors who were very busy and we only had 7 days in hand. Of that Purab fell ill on one day. That cut the schedule from seven days to six days. We did not have a big crew and cast to carry from place to place. We had a small set and 2 characters. This meant less running around and with the co-operation of the team we managed to finish the film in six days flat.
You have a very tight script- two characters, 80 minutes how did you manage to get that?
The script was actually tighter. It was 33 pages. The rule of filmmaking is 1 page per minute. This means we needed at least 80-90 pages to make an 80-minute film. But it was due to the performances we were able to manage it. The two actors performed well with their body language and their emotions and we were able to pull it through.
You film is known to have the smallest set in Indian cinema. Could you tell us what kind of a set was that?
That was the set of an elevator. It is a small place. Almost the entire film was shot inside the elevator. This is the first film that is entirely shot in an elevator. An elevator is a small place. There is no film made 90% inside an elevator. It may be in and around the elevator but not entirely in it. To fit the two actors, the story, the entire film in that one elevator was not easy but we succeeded in doing it. It came out pretty well.
How did you manage to assemble such a unique kind of team?
This is what guerilla filmmaking is all about. You assemble such a crew and let them do what they want to do. If it works for the film then you let them do it. I have this friend who is a pilot. He is also in to this music thing. He has an entire set up. He said he wanted to do the music for my film and I let him do it. It worked well for the film. Devaki was a fashion designer who gave it up sometime ago. We had a script ready. I tried my hand at directing. The actors also have performed satisfactorily well. I hope the people also enjoy it.
How was the experience directing and producing for the first time?
Well let me tell you that it takes a huge chunk out of your pocket to produce a film. First rule of filmmaking is that never invest your own money into filmmaking and we went ahead and broke the first rule itself. Forget the others. You have to keep a track of whatís happening, whereís the money going and whether what you are getting out of it is good enough or not. It is things like these.
Your film was appreciated at a lot of film festivals. How does it feel?
Well that feels great. Especially the international ones. There, people donít know your background, the actors, and their background and so on because itís international. When they discover that such work has come from India, they appreciate it a lot as they donít expect such work from Indian filmmakers. They have a certain expectation that it would be bollywood or it would be Indians living in America or something on those lines. They are quite pleasantly surprised.
So 13th Floor is keeping you busy these days
Well you can say that I am promoting my film and distributing it too. I am personally going to multiplexes and requesting them to play my film and provide it a digital platform because it is a digital film. I am trying to convince them that digital is the gen next in filmmaking and they should help me promote this. And lots of multiplexes are going digital. So what better a way than playing my film?
How was the experience working with Purab and Sandhya?
Purab I have known him for a while. We keep meeting at Channel V. He is an easy guy and cool too. We had similar thoughts about Sandhya also.I called him, made him read the script and he liked it. He then asked me if I had somebody in mind for the girlís part. He suggested Sandhya. Incidentally she was my first choice too. So I called her up. She read and liked the script. She said lets go ahead and do it. She considered everything else secondary- the money, the treatment and so on. Yes itís a blessing to work as a first timer with good actors. They are very honest and true to the entire process of filmmaking. Forget the commercial aspects, it makes you fell great about the film youíve made with such actors.