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Short & sweet

We last saw him judge Sony Television’s reality show India’s Got Talent and then he vanished as swiftly as he had arrived.

Written by Dipti Nagpaul D'souza |
December 10, 2009 3:05:56 am

Shekhar Kapoor on his short film for New York,I Love You and why the medium is niche in India

We last saw him judge Sony Television’s reality show India’s Got Talent and then he vanished as swiftly as he had arrived. But Shekhar Kapur is back to making news — this time for a short film he has directed as a part of a short-film series New York,I Love You,which explores and celebrates the energy of the Big Apple.

The 12 shorts have been written and directed by some of the most celebrated names in Hollywood,including Brett Ratner,Fatih Akin,Joshua Marston,Natalie Portman (directorial debut) and Mira Nair. However,interestingly,Kapur was not originally a part of the project. Filmmaker Anthony Minghella wrote the segment and was also supposed to direct it but he passed away before he could begin filming. Kapur then stepped in.

“Anthony and I met after Elizabeth. He had liked my work. He had a production company and always wanted me to direct one of his films,but that somehow never happened,” reminisces Kapur. “However,we became great friends. When he began work on this project,I was on a six-month break at an ashram. One day,my agent called to tell that Anthony is unwell and wants to see me. I immediately returned and he suggested I take over the project. I initially refused since we expected him to recover but he insisted we discuss this once he returns from the hospital. Sadly,he never did.” Kapur,bound by Minghella’s last words,dived in.

The 11-minute segment captures the contrasts in the life of a retired opera singer (Julie Christie) and a young bellhop (Shia LaBeouf) with a limp and a foreign accent in the backdrop of a New York hotel. Kapur confesses that initially he did not understand Minghella’s vision but remembered his words that most people spend lives not valuing it. According to critics,Kapur,64,has lived up to it as he sensitively captures the tender connection between the two characters.

It wasn’t easy for the Indian filmmaker to take over the project as he inherited a script that would have translated into a 20-minute segment,so his first job was to cut it short. “But Anthony had already scouted for the locations and completed the pre-production work. We shot the film over a mere two days and the cast,though big names,flew down at a day’s notice.”

As New York,I Love You readies for release on December 18,Kapur is excited but without much expectation since short films don’t always go down well with the audience. “The long form is used to reach out to the audience but you do short films to express yourself. With other art forms,like art exhibitions or music,the audience is supposed to look for their story or search for themselves. Sadly,people don’t look at the visual medium that way. Has anyone ever asked Van Gogh what’s his story?”

Currently in Mumbai,Kapur is still working on his next project,Paani,a futuristic film and a love story. Danny Boyle is the producer and A R Rahman is likely to compose the music.

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