Five years ago,you released Leaving Home on Indian Ocean and now you are back with a new documentary,Baavra Mann A film on Sudhir Mishra and Other Indian Realities. How did you stumble upon this subject?
In 2010,I decided to not work on any film assignments for three years. But there was an itch and when I met Sudhir Mishra at a conference that year,I got the same feeling that I had for Indian Ocean. I have known him for over a decade and used to discuss my scripts with him. Sudhir is a unique personality in this industry,he has survived for 25 years and there are still high expectations from him which is remarkable.
What was his reaction when you told him about the project?
When I told him about wanting to make a movie on him,he was unusually quiet and said,use me as a medium,not as a subject. Baavra Mann is about looking at Indian cinema commercial and parallel through his story and also his relationship with his family.
Which places did you visit to understand Mishra and his cinema?
Sudhirs youth was spent at three places and you can see glimpses of it in his movies. We went to Sagar University in Madhya Pradesh which was a very vibrant educational institution at the time but now its a complete mess. After this,Sudhir became a part of the Delhi theatre scene and had friends from the National School of Drama (NSD). It was a very inspiring place at the time and is now,well,sort of on a decline. After this,he went to Bombay to be part of the parallel cinema circuit which has now faded. We went to all these places to understand the Indian reality one has seen in most of his films.
Who are the other people that are part of this two-hour-long film?
Apart from Chitrangada Singh,Kay Kay Menon,Shiney Ahuja and Shantanu Moitra who have recently worked with him,we have spoken to Naseeruddin Shah,Kundan Shah and Ketan Mehta. There are his close friends,MJ Akbar and Vinod Dua,who are in the film and his theatre friend,an NSD alumni,Robin Das.
After Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi,Mishras movies dont bear his stamp and one sees a bit of a creative slump. Is this part of Baavra Mann as well?
Yes,there is a rather candid part where Sudhir says how he has not fulfilled his potential. After Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi,he released Khoya Khoya Chand which didnt do well but he considers it his best film. After that there have been weak films. When you try to belong somewhere,its up to you how much you can compromise. While shooting,I gathered up the courage to tell him that if he continues like this,the last good Sudhir Mishra film would be the one I am making on him.
The film will be screened at Siri Fort Auditorium on April 28.