Q. What is your new movie about?
A. Peepal Jhoomey Morey Aangna is based on Eugene O’Neill’s play called Desire Under The Elms. Set in the rustic Uttar Pradesh, it’s a tale of longing and desires of three people who are brought together by familial bonds. Vishnu Tiwari is an old farmer living on his self made property with his three sons one of which is a foster. How things change when a woman arrives in the house. It’s a story of love, vengeance, greed, hope and desire.
Q. Is it your first film?
A. It is my first feature film.
Q. How long did the making take?
A. I read the original text three years back, and it took me an year to write the Hindi adaptation. Then I started narrating it to various people so I could get some finance but nothing happened. Initially the work started as improvisations on our terrace. Over a period of time, the rehearsal process got so intense that it just felt like a movie in the making. So it was a spark that got some air and turned into a raging fire. There was no dearth of passion and enthusiasm and we had fairly experienced people in the team. We funded the initial amount from our own pockets and started working on the film. We met many more passionate people and we finally had a team of 13 people onboard ready to kickstart this film. We could not afford to shoot at real locations. It took us more than a month to create a village house on our terrace. And that too without any professional help, as we were short of funds. It was like living in a story, so many sleepless nights, surviving on eggs and bread for over a month, shooting for hours in the peak winters wearing only vests or single sari. It was magical. After concluding the shoot, came the biggest obstacle. We realised that we had no money left for post-production. We can’t hire any editing studio and cannot do it ourselves as we don’t have the equipment. We’ve been working on this film for five months, and have arrived at the next leg of the project. We are left with editing, dubbing, music, sound and other post-production work and we need funds for the same.
Q. As a filmmaker, what difficulties did you face before and after the camera started rolling?
A. Well we were shooting a rural film in the city on the set so the ambience was never appropriate so we struggled with sound, and of course after a day’s shoot we had to think about the money we needed for the next day. Otherwise it was a smooth and enriching experience.
Q. What made you choose filmmaking as a career?
A. My father was really interested in films, always took us for movies on holidays. Fascinated by the art of storytelling as a kid, I was always curious about filmmaking. Having been a theatre artist for a long time now, I wanted to explore filmmaking so I moved to Bombay and started assisting in ads and feature films. I worked as script supervisor, casting director, and second assistant director on Aaloo Chaat directed by Robby Grewal, and Kushar Prasad Ka Bhoot directed by Garry Grewal. Also worked with Ram Madhvani, an ace ad filmmaker. After working as second assistant director for some years I got the chance to be the associate director of the film called The Coffin Maker directed by Veena Bakshi, another well known name in advertising, where I worked on every aspect of filmmaking. I Also worked with well-known casting director Abhimanyu Ray as dialogue writer, for his directorial venture Hello, Goodbye, and as associate director on B.A. Pass directed by Ajay Bahl and produced by Tonga Talkies Productions. Recently, I acted in Bollywood Diaries (2016). Simply, I just can’t think beyond telling good stories.
Q. What kind of financial struggles did you have to go through pre- and post- production?
A. As an independent filmmaker I could not wait for financiers to appear from somewhere, so we started with our own money. We stayed at the location for 45 days’ shoot so we don’t spend a penny on ourselves. but days came when we were short of cash. But I don’t know how we never stopped shooting. People understood and gave us equipment for free. The same thing is happening post-production too, nobody is getting paid as of now, that’s my only concern. I want to give them their dues.
Q. Fellow filmmakers that have managed to leave an impression on you?
A. Anand Gandhi, Ajay Bahl, Q., Neerah Ghaywan, Kanu Behl, K.D. Satyam, Raam Reddy, Sanjeev Sharma and so on.
Q. What are your future projects?
A. I am working on two stories since a long time now, one is a musical Bollywood- themed comedy and the other is an intense teenage drama. Can’t say much about it right now as both the projects are in the process.