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    Pan Nalin: SAMSARA’s strength lies in its simplicity

    [Interview by Joginder Tuteja]
    Thursday, July 06, 2006
    As internationally acclaimed SAMSARA sees a release in India, its director Pan Nalin is all excited to share his experiences about the making of the film. In Part I of this into 3 part interview, he also talks about his film making journey and the reception it has received.

    Pan Nalin? Isn't it an uncommon name for an Indian?

    [Laughs] Well, my full name is Pandya Nalinkumar Ramniklal. It so happened that the name was so long for the West that they rechristened me as Pan Nalin. Not that I really cared as long as I got the right films to direct with good funds coming in to help me survive! In Europe I had been making number of short films and documentaries and each time I was credited differently. But then finally things got became hot for me and from Pandya Nalin I became Pan Nalin!

    We have heard a lot about you from the West. Now can we know a little more about you for the benefit of Indian audience?

    See, first and foremost I want to credit my teacher Mr. H. Patel, a well known faculty member, for where I am today. He is the man who introduced me to world cinema. He guided me to film club that had host of movies that were not readily available elsewhere. Luckily there were number of other actors/actresses from different streams whom I accompanied for watching these films. What I observed was that number of these films were purely director driven that was quite inspiring.

    SAMSARA is said to have generated a lot of buzz globally. Do you want to elaborate?

    Yes, the film has traveled around 30 countries in last 5 years and all this while people have been quite supportive of the film. Response from the distributors has been quite positive too and during all this years the film has got a lot of mileage. People have been asking a lot of questions and have also commented that it has been a learning experience for them. Number of screenings have happened worldwide and the response has been simply spectacular. The film has been shown in countries as diverse as Thailand, Denmark, Switzerland, Korea etc. and what I have heard is that audience has been bowled over by the sheer power of story telling. In fact there have been people in Germany who have even gone to an extent of writing books on the film.

    Wow, that indeed sounds like a long enough journey. Doesn't it become redundant for you to continue talking about the film with different people for such a extended period of time?

    Well, I have now got back to my making my next film since 'SAMSARA' has taken its life. But yes, it is not redundant for me since every time the film has been released in a new country, it has taken a new form through a new publicity design. The film has not taken a single identity as the distributors have opted for a new design for a specific country. If one looks at the film's release in Korea. the response was simply overwhelming. If you talk about Toronto, there was an instance of people crying over my shoulders. The best part about this entire journey has been the "audience choice awards" that I have received. Now that's something that I hold over and above the critics/jury awards since the audience award comes straight from the heart. Look at countries like Australia, Peru and Switzerland where the film has supposedly evoked memories for number of people.

    Any specific instance that you wish to cite about the global response?

    Ya, there has been one interesting and heartwarming incidence that I can recollect. After the screening in Korea, there was a Q&A session that happened. We soon ran short of time but people just wanted the conversation to continue. Since the situation was uncontrollable, we decided to continue the session at another point nearby but in no time the crowd of around 50 odd enthusiasts gathered there as well! What I heard from them was that watching 'SAMSARA' was like living a different life altogether for them. If you go there, you would find that the film has almost taken a cult status. In Bangkok, there have been case studies that have been made around the film. It has been extremely touching experience for the people out there and they have found the film to be extremely relevant in every sense. When I look back at all of this, I feel that it was a huge struggle to make the film but then it was absolutely worth it. Now over the period of time the film has stayed on inspite of its release way back in 2001. The film is now seen by global audience through DVDs with special collectors' edition out. It's only now that the film is now being shown on Indian screens.

    With just an overwhelming response from the audience, have you ever tried to sit back and ponder over the actual reasons behind its global appreciation?

    I believe the film's strength lies in its simplicity. Let me narrate you an incident. When I decided to be a film maker, I was told by my mother that if you are really set out to do so, tell a story that an entire village can listen to. If you can hold the attention of country side people then you can win the world. And the crux of this should lie in the fact that the story should be simple. Now if you look at SAMSARA, it is about making choices. I have narrated the film in such a manner that I have allowed the spectator to decide the end. There is nothing intellectual about 'SAMSARA' and the film has its strength lying in the power of silence and less dialogues. My thought is, since our life is so full of silences, why to have a 3 hours film with non-stop chatter. After all it's a simple love story about choices. That's a trait that is common amongst every individual. So many time we find ourselves asking this question, "Whom should I love, whom should I stay with, which is the job I should choose?" When in love, you also wonder that if my girl goes to Thar desert would I still accompany her? Or would I be better off by living in my A/C car? Now these are simple conflicts that I have based my film on. And this is what has helped the film moving people. They have been made to think that how much do choices dictate our love, condition our mind and govern our lives!

    Interesting. Please continue!

    The male protagonist of my film first falls in love with a woman and then later finds himself falling in love with another girl after 7 years. Just like 'Siddhartha', he too decides to leave his wife and son in sleep. But then there is a twist in the end that I would like to hold on as it has an element of suspense to it. Let the audience decide about the end by themselves as they would be bowled over by the climax!

    To be continued…..


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