He, with his craving for storytelling, and she, with her limitless supply of it, are a potent duo. Long past the flamboyance of youth, Chandan Arora’s muse is the medium of filmmaking, where a comprehending eye for empathy in the world passing by is ripening into wisdom. And this hunger has taken him out of Hindi cinema momentarily and given him Fandry, a film about discrimination against a lower caste family. This is first Marathi film, about which he talks with sunny resignation.
“After hearing the story whatever I had imagined, the shooting material was much more than that. He (director Nagraj Manjule) said a lot with that film without getting preachy. It was so subtle, and so beautifully layered,” says Arora. Interestingly, it was a chance discussion with the producers that bagged him the project. Arora, who also delves into the domain of advertising, met the makers when they wanted him to make some ad films. And they happened to mention the film they were about to produce. Curious, when Arora asked them about the plot, he was completely taken aback. “How can somebody be making this as their first film when they are not well versed with the business? The story just stayed with me,” he says. He inquired later whether they have an editor on board. “I told them that you should get me to cut the film,” he adds. Now Arora is beaming with the response that the film is receiving, especially for its ending, which seems as though a rock is thrown at the screen.
“Manjule was very clear that he wanted to end it like that, right from the start. The black screen. It was very personal,” says Arora, who prefers working with first-time filmmakers. “When people are starting off, they want to say many things. I think it’s also the purity, not being contrived, that sort of attracts me,” he says.
Arora enjoys a complete connection with cinema. He dabbles in screenwriting, editing and directing (he’s best known for directing Main Madhuri Dixit Banna Chahti Hoon and Main, Meri Patni Aur Woh) though he identifies himself mostly as a filmmaker. Though editing is his core strength, he refrains from cutting his own film. “Being an editor, you know where you want to cut and how you want to cut. So why deprive yourself of another set of brains,” he adds.
As a director, the debacle of Striker did take a toll on him and working in advertising has helped him stay afloat. Now after editing Krrish 3 and Fandry, Arora is cutting Tere Bin Laden 2 and there’s also a re-cut of the Aamir Khan-starrer Raakh, which is celebrating its 25 years and will be released in the US. “It was a great experience. I had restricted material to work on, but when I showed them the re-edited version, they couldn’t tell,” he says.
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As a storyteller, however, he is always in search of Amitabh Bachchan moments in real life. “You don’t have to be working in a minefield or have a beedi in your mouth to feel what you are feeling. So much happens everyday and I find those dramatic moments very exciting,” he says. The other day he spotted a woman at a temple praying so intensely that her face hasn’t left him since. “I was like God please grant her whatever she wants,” he explains. Some of these moments will be shown, no doubt, by him.