Ship of Theseus hit screens on July 19, 2013. The Anand Gandhi directorial was lauded for its storytelling and camerawork.
Ship of Theseus actor and co-producer Sohum Shah talks to indianexpress.com about why the film was special and how it became the base of all the projects he took up eventually.
Here are excerpts from the conversation:
Q. From what we know, you had given an audition for Ship of Theseus, but you didn’t get a call back because there was no producer backing the film. There were financial difficulties and hence you decided to produce it. Why?
I come from a family with a business background. I started my career when I was 13. We didn’t have a lot of money, so everything that I needed, I had to build it myself. When you have been taking decisions that have worked for you, you have an intuition about what will work and what won’t.
When I first heard the script of Ship of Theseus, I felt it deeply and also the crew and director were all so passionate about the project. They genuinely wanted to make this film. Their vision was very clear. I found the story to be very unique. The novelty of that story kept coming to me, as an artiste and a producer. I fell in love with it. I knew it then and there that if I invested in this film, I would get guaranteed returns as it was being made with all our heart.
We did it and the returns were huge. The kind of love and praise we got for the film is invaluable. The validation that I got through this film was immense. Whatever I did after Ship of Theseus, and whatever I will do in the future, this film is the base. It is such a strong foundation.
Q. Why do you think Ship of Theseus had difficulty in finding producers?
There were no OTT platforms. There was no Netflix or Amazon. More than making the film, filmmakers were stressed about how to release the film. It was difficult to get screens.
Ship of Theseus will always be special to me. Iss film ne mujhe bohot kuch diya hai, chahe woh mera acting career ho ya production career ho. Even after 6 years, I can clearly remember my first day on set and the happiness it brought when I faced the camera. pic.twitter.com/aHFSr8nK2o
— Sohum Shah (@s0humshah) July 19, 2019
My family kept questioning my decision to make the film. They couldn’t understand why there were so many languages spoken in it. Nobody could even relate to the title of the film. So many people were worried that there is no item song in the film. If you see my segment, it had two scenes that rolled for ten minutes or more. They were single takes. I think I was lucky to get such an opportunity at that phase in my career. People get it after doing a lot of films.
The camera work looked so natural as if they were there by chance capturing what was happening. But all of that was structured, and yet it looked like it was a natural sequence of life. Technically, it was an extremely well-made film. But people did not get it then. It was not an era where people tried doing something challenging.
I think when you come as an outsider to the industry, you don’t know what the formula of filmmaking and running a film business is. It was like a breath of fresh air. It was a calculated risk for us even in that era.
Q. What kind of movies have you watched while growing up to recognise Ship of Theseus as a piece of art?
I have only watched normal films. I have grown up watching Shah Rukh Khan’s films. I am his fan. It is also not that I will make and act in films like Ship of Theseus only. As an actor, I want to do everything. People around me, my family and friends find me very funny. I want to do comedy films also. I recently did two short films, one is a romantic drama and another is kind of a horror short. So, I want to do everything that I have grown up watching. People think I am a very serious person, and even more serious actor. But I am not. I really think I am a comedian, and I really want to show it to people.
Q. Both your films Ship of Theseus and Tumbbad came out of your independent production house. Where according to you is Indie cinema placed in Bollywood right now?
I think the line between independent and mainstream cinema has blurred. Today, we can make any kind of film as there are various platforms to showcase them. The struggle of a filmmaker has become very less. There is more scope for different kind of films. To get money for Ship of Theseus was so difficult. Today it is not, but you need to have a good story to tell. The industry has opened up to anyone and everyone who wants to make a film with an original concept, and tell a good story.