Akhilesh Jaiswal is best known as the co-writer of Gangs of Wasseypur. The Bhopal lad is now making his directorial debut with Mastram, a rather bold subject about the life of a Hindi porn author who is well known in the North. In a candid chat with Pandolin, he talks about his journey as a writer-director and the making of his directorial venture.

Where did you grow up and what are your childhood memories of cinema?
 How did your journey into films happen?

I was born and bought up in Bhopal. I was a big fan of Hindi films and would go to watch a film in the theatre every Friday, regardless of whether they were playing a good or bad film. That’s how I was attracted to cinema. My father, who owns a business in Bhopal, wanted me to do business management, but after completing standard 12, I came to Mumbai. Here I enrolled in a Mass Communication course. However while studying, I figured that the course was rubbish and dropped out after a year.

Another reason why I came here was to make films and like many others who come to the tinseltown with filmy aspirations, I was struggling with my scripts and a desire to simply work on a film set. I got some writing assignments as well as ad films but the big break happened with Gangs of Wasseypur (GOW). It was big learning curve for me which helped me a lot in Mastram. (Akhilesh along with Sachin Ladia, Zeishan Quadri and Anurag Kashyap wrote both parts of GOW.)

Considering Gangs of Wasseypur was the first film you worked on, how did you manage to set up a crew and raise enough funds to make your own film? 

I wanted to make a simple film with no indulgences. I had started writing another film, Ugly, for Anurag when Wasseypur was still in post production. Ugly got postponed and I was out of work. I’d met Gunjan Saxena at Anurag’s office and we became friends and co-writers subsequently. Rather than waiting for work to come our way, we started working on this film. After we finished the script, I was looking for a producer. I knew Ajay Rai (Producer) through GOW and gave him my script and he in turn showed it to a few more people. That’s how things got rolling. Producer Sunil Bohra saw the first cut of the film and came on board. Without his support, we may not have got a theatrical release.

We had a small crew of 30 – 40 people working on the film. We shot in Manali for a period of 30 days. We had to keep our budget in control because it’s a film with new faces and I am a debutant. Rahul Bagga (he plays the lead) came on board because he knew me. The cinematographer, Gavemic Ary, came on board because Ajay knew him. Most people came on the project because we knew and trusted them and they were ready to support us by working within our budgets.


Why did a porn writer’s story interest you enough to make a film on him? Do you know anyone who has seen or met him? What does this film focus on – his personal life or his work?

The thought of knowing the life of a person who is so famous all across North India, crossed my mind a lot of times. Despite being so famous, no one has ever met or seen him. I would always think, what does the author feel and how does he react to this popularity … Is he proud of the fact that he is such a good creator of erotica or is he himself ashamed of the fact that he writes erotica and therefore does not want to come out in public as Mastram. This thought and curiosity became the base of Mastram – The film. It is a fictional account of the writer’s life. Even I am curious to know who the real brain behind the book is, or the real face behind the author, as you put it. Majorly the film focuses on his life’s journey, but there are parts where we move to his writing as well.

When did you first start writing and what was the process like? Since there are two writers on board, what was the method of collaboration?

Since I was born and raised in MP, my hold over Urdu and Hindi is better than English. In fact my English is slightly crooked. So far I have always worked with a co-writer whether it was GOW or this film. Here I have collaborated with Gunjan Saxena who is also a friend. We first discuss the story, its various permutations and combination and then start writing. Once its ready, we show it to friends, get their feedback to see if it’s working. So far I have only collaborated to write films. I think it’s a good thing to have more than one brain guiding the subject, it complements the script. The writing process becomes easy as you have someone with different ideas and opinions.


Considering what the film represents, do you think it will get an A certificate without any cuts?

The film will be going to the Censor Board prior to its release and I am hoping that there won’t be any sort of problems with them.

Films and filmmakers you like and or admire.

I like films like 400 blows, The King of Comedy and filmmakers like Francois Truffaut, Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, Anurag Kashyap among others.

– Priyanka Jain