“In Filmmaking, You Never Know Enough” – Kapil Sharma
[dropcap]H[/dropcap]is dad is a known astronaut – Rakesh Sharma, but he chose movies to make his career in. After serving Indian film industry as an assistant director for 10 years in various Indian and international projects, Kapil Sharma finally got his first directorial break in Goldie Behl’s ‘I, Me Aur Main’ starring A list actors. But real challenges, in disguise of learning, were yet to come, which of course, the promising director overcame. Although, the film did not open with a good response at the box-office, but there is still a lot more to know about talented Kapil Sharma’s undying passion for films, which Pandolin explores in a free-wheeling chat.
What excited you about the film ‘I, Me Aur Main’?
The very interesting aspect of the film is that it’s a relationship story that exists in today’s contemporary times. It’s also a little bit about the self-centric world in which we live today. I call it romantic dramady (drama + comedy) because the story is about self-centric guy and his various relationships with women, that include his mother, sister, female boss, live-in girlfriend, and lover. You can say it’s a slice of life.
It is also more of a grown up romance that you see in the film as the characters are in their late 20s, working individual rather than college first love, young rom-com.
How did you want the film to look like when you started shooting?
The aesthetic approach on this film was largely to keep it heightened reality, cinematic but slightly on the realistic side. So we did not go down the route of massive opulent sets, instead we tried to keep a certain naturalistic feel to the whole film, the one of the main reasons also being a budget.
We made sure to shoot on real locations rather than on the sets. That’s partly because of a cost thing, but also partly a vision variety that it gives you. Like if you are talking about a real city location or a city based film, aesthetically, you choose to have different kinds of spaces because each space tells a different story and has its own character in the film.
Where all did you shoot the film?
The film was entirely shot in Mumbai. It was a best place to shoot this kind of story. Hence, we shot in real houses, few hotels, and a few offices.
What was your brief to the cinematographer, Himman Dhamija?
As I said, there was a sort of heightened naturalistic feel to the film, so that was dictated in the cinematography too. It dictated how we designed the lighting of the film. We kept lighting very natural, by using natural lights coming in from outside from windows or from some other spaces. The internal lighting was done just to supplement that design. We decided not to have too much of a designed look or cinematography to the film. We did not go with too much contrast or say high fashion lighting either.
Which camera format did you use? Why?
We shot the film on film because we felt that was the best format for the kind of story we were telling. Besides, all that I said in terms of lighting, spaces and so on, there is a scene in the film wherein Ishaan Sabharwal’s (John’s character) life starts to step forward, so that look was grassy, but when his real world starts to fall apart, there is a level of grainier, grungy or textured look that we gave to the scene. In the first half, he lived in a big bubble unless his world starts to crack and reality starts to seep in. We grafted it with subtle, subliminal, textural change to the mood or space in the film.
In celluloid, you have got different kind of stocks, that help you to achieve different kind of images, for example, some stocks have intrinsic ability to pop up grains slightly and within that you can see little more texture, a lot of grain, which is again subliminal but makes a difference to the image itself.
So, you mix and match the stocks to actually help aesthetic graph of the film.
What were the other challenges you faced while making this film?
Often in filmmaking, you are always challenged with unanticipated hurdles, but you have a team and very committed people over there to get the job done. In the film, the challenge was to shoot at the real locations in Mumbai and there were whole bunch of people handling the crowd and traffic.
For how long you shot the film ‘I, Me Aur Main’?
Being a strategically budgeted film, we shot for not more than 55 days, and that of course not at a stretch. Doing a shoot at a stretch doesn’t happen when you are working with stars like John Abraham. It’s their availability which becomes little tricky because they have other commitments too. John is a busy actor, who enjoys the variety of films that he commits himself to. So, he had been juggling between many of his films in between while we were producing the film.
We got the shoot done with on and off schedule, extending to a period of a year and a bit.
You have been in the industry for the last 10 years. How has it been ?
I think very satisfying! I have been extremely fortunate for those 10 years working in the film industry because I have been constantly learning. Initially I was hired as a first AD, doing freelance international or national job. As a first assistant director, I was learning basics. The main challenge was trying to make it all come together and work for me. After 6-7 years of working as an AD, I realised that now I wanted to direct or expand my experience. When you are an outsider, it takes time to understand and get to know the business, the networking, and the way it works with producers.
It was a struggle but it was also a terrific challenge for me. And ask anybody who is into film making; they are there because of the absolute passion for making films. Of course, there is also a business part of it. But it’s the magical world of films that still keeps you stuck there.
Have you gone through any academic training in film making?
Yes, I am a trained filmmaker. But academic education in film making is like a round up training. Film making is a kind of vocation or endeavour that you can’t be fully trained on, or can never know it enough. You can be trained to be familiar with the subject but on field every shot or every take teaches you something about the art.
Was that any difficult to get your first break?
It’s about being in the right place at the right time. I was finishing up ‘Drona’ and Goldie Behl was directing the film. He was looking for a new director for his next production venture, I happened to be there and opportunity fell onto my lap. That was also the time when I felt that I was done being an AD.
So it was a typical situation that you were looking for something and the next moment you got it.
What has been the major learning in film making?
My biggest realisation is that ‘you never know enough’ or ‘you can’t know enough’. In film making, you got to constantly stay open to many things. All your experience will work in sync with your instinct and hence like an actor, you also have to stay open to whatever is happening at the moment.
Whose work inspires you the most?
We all are creative individuals with our own set of experiences. I don’t believe that there is one particular person or thing that inspires me. Every filmmaker from India or internationally, whose work I have liked, has brought a shift to my thinking which I can’t even articulate.
I also believe that we should allow ourselves to be influenced by good work, but certainly not copy.
What kinds of stories fascinate you?
At this time, my area of curiosity is the stories that speak about human spirits. I like human stories with undying spirit of survival and adaptations.
What’s in your bag next?
I am exploring couple of more films. They belong to the genre of love stories, romantic drama and actions thriller. It’s little too early to talk about it.