Chutney is dark humour and that is something I love: Jyothi Kapur Das
When short film Chutney had its world premiere at the recently concluded 5th Dharamshala International Film Festival, the audience were full of praise and applause for this black humour film that features Tisca Chopra, Adil Hussain and Rasika Dugal. Seeing the response that Chutney received, its director Jyothi Kapur Das, an FTII alumnus and Creative Head – Film, TV & Digital Content (Fiction) at Big Synergy Media Limited, was on a high. A freewheeling chat with her gives us a glimpse into her film and her full of life persona.
Tisca Chopra is the producer, actor and co-writer of Chutney. How did your association with Tisca happen?
Tisca is a friend. When we met and spoke about this film’s script, she loved it so much that she wanted to be part of it. Her sensibilities are similar to mine hence she wanted to produce it. Then, she cold-called Large Short Films and when they heard the one-liner, even they agreed to come on board.
She also got the actors on board. Tisca totally spoilt me as she got me everybody – technicians, actors, locations, money and gave me her time as well.
Tell us about the writing process of Chutney.
I had earlier made a short film in 2002, which was again black humor. That film has also traveled the festival circuit and was appreciated a lot. Chutney again is dark humour and that is something I love.
Tisca and I spent two months writing the script. And we had this fabulous guy called Avnish Mishra who is a theatre director, actor and writer. He got the surr correct. All those words such as caanstipesaan (constipation) and inki toh quaaalty (quality) came from his side. He is an expert on different lehjas and this was one of them. So we jammed with him and came up with some very interesting things in the script.
I would surprise the actors with small little details about their character just before they went into a scene to get that freshness of reaction
What was your brief to all the actors?
There was a whole back story to every character. We were blessed to have actors who have a great body of work – Adil (Hussain), Rasika (Dugal), Sumit (Gulati), brother-in-law Devesh and servant Bhola who doesn’t have any dialogues. We shot for five days and had back stories for all the actors. I would surprise them with small little details about their character just before they went into a scene to get that freshness of reaction. So that is a craft that I used to get very organic reactions. This is opposite to method acting because in method acting they prepare in advance.
After the world premier at DIFF, where else do you plan to travel with the film?
It was very gratifying to see people loving the film at DIFF. I’m overwhelmed, grateful and very happy. Since Naseer (Naseeruddin Shah) bhai was present at the premiere it was even more special as Tisca has learnt from him and he is from my film school. Chutney will now go to a lot of festivals and we will try to get a lot of people to see it. I have already made my office peons, security guys and chaiwalas watch it. I wanted them to see it as the story is from their land. They have loved the film.
It will be released digitally in the last week of November by Large Short Films. They have also generously given me permission to take it wherever I want.
The trend of short films is growing at a fast rate. What do you think makes it so popular amongst viewers and filmmakers?
Because of the opportunities that are available. Everybody with a smart phone can now watch a film. Technically, the bandwidth of Internet service in India is so bad that feature films keep buffering. Short films can be seen at a stretch, so your audience is actually watching the entire film in one go. In a way, it is also providing a platform for a person to show his craft. A lot of people use short films as a showreel to make a feature film later. It is eventually storytelling. So if you can tell a story in 10, 15 or 20 minutes; you have displayed the fact that you know the craft.
if you can tell a story in 10, 15 or 20 minutes; you have displayed the fact that you know the craft
Apart from being a filmmaker you also have a regular day job. Tell us more about it.
I used to be the Creative Head of Viacom 18 Motion Pictures. Now I’m the Creative Head for fiction at Big Synergy, which is Sidharth Basu’s company and is also part of Phantom. We are doing a show with Amazon and Balaji. We are also doing a show with Netflix, which Anurag Kashyap is directing and we’ll be executing the production of it. Lastly, I’ll also be directing a film.
You come across as very jolly and positive person.
Sound of Music has a line in a song which says, ‘Nothing comes from nothing’. So what you put in, is what you’ll get. I think it is an investment of your energies.