Nitin Kakkar initially set out to do a film on Urdu writer Saadat Hasan Manto’s stories but ended up making ‘Filmistaan’ in which he explored Indo-Pak relations through the shared love that people from both sides of the border have for Bollywood.
The film will hit theatres on June 6 post Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif’s visit to India to attend Prime Minister-elect Narendra Modi’s swearing-in ceremony on May 26.
The director, who started his journey from the small screen, says his film looks at the bitterness and love that people from both sides of the border inherited after Partition
and whether there is hope to overcome this.
“This film is an amalgamation of lot of observations. Actually, I was working on a movie that I wanted to base on Manto’s stories. That was to be my first film but that could not happen.
“Then I created this character of Sunny Arora, a Bollywood fanatic and I realised that films would be a great tool to explore Indo-Pak relations in a contemporary manner.
This idea became ‘Filmistaan’,” Nitin told PTI.
Nitin, whose grandparents were originally from Lahore, says he preferred telling his story from the human perspective.
“I am looking at the issue from a human perspective without trying to make a political statement. It is a tribute not just to my grandparents but to all the people who were uprooted during Partition. They left their homeland and could never return,” Nitin says.
Starring Sharib Hashmi, Inaamulhaq, Kumud Mishra, the film has travelled to various film festivals including Busan, Kerala and Mumbai. ‘Filmistaan’ was named the best feature film in Hindi at the 60th National Film Awards 2012.
The story revolves around a Bollywood enthusiast, who after getting rejected in many auditions tags along with an international documentary crew to Rajasthan, only to get abducted by a terrorist group, who mistake him for an American crew member.
Soon he befriends one of the kidnappers who trades in pirated Bollywood CDs across the border and they bond over movies.
Like the protagonist of his film, cinema influenced Nitin in various ways. His father was a photographer in the industry, which gave him access to the industry.
“I have seen many cinema images coming alive in father’s dark room but I never thought I would be making films. I realised I was actually a fish in the pond. This is what I had to be doing,” Nitin says about his formative influences.
Nitin believes his experience of directing shows on TV like ‘Sssshh… Phir Koi Hai’ helped him in his debut venture.
“Any director who comes here, comes to make films only but life is not a fairytale. I had to do TV to make ends meet at times. Fortunately, it was a strong learning ground. TV taught me to work fast. I made the film in 20 days, which would not have been possible otherwise.”