His recent short was part of an anthology film by PVR Director’s Rare and the official selection at the Hanoi International Film Festival 2014. Indie filmmaker Krishan Hooda talks about his journey, various short and feature length films and influences that have shaped him and inspired his stories.

Krishan Hooda on location of Rebellious Flower

Krishan Hooda (Center) on location of Rebellious Flower

Have you been formally trained in filmmaking? What drew you towards the field?

No I haven’t. I was doing my graduation from Raheja College and won a contest when someone suggested that I should try acting. So I went to Prithvi theatre and started acting with different groups. I used to get small roles but wanted to do bigger roles. So I wrote and directed a play and that’s when I realized that I should do writing and direction. That’s how my first short film happened. I assisted director Rajan Kothari who was the DOP for Prakash Jha. Then I started writing my own scripts and things started happening.

So you set out to be an actor and direction happened on the way?

I can’t really say that. Many directors, who are currently working and doing good stuff, came here to become actors (laughs). I was good at writing and direction so I finally reached a point where I chose to do that.

What were your early influences?

I have always been reading books and stories. I wouldn’t say a particular writer or director influenced me, though I like the works of several writers and directors. But what influenced me most were the activities and stories happening around me; events I’ve witnessed in my personal life. Most of the stories I’ve written or directed are somewhere very close to my life.

Tell us about your short films and how did they come about?

I made my first film by selling my gold chain gifted by my dad. That was quite a task. I wanted to make this film and wanted some money but didn’t want to ask anyone. People would ask me why I was putting my own money to make the film but my question to them was, why would anybody else put money in my first film? So the story of my first film, Raam Naam Satya Hai happened when I was in Haryana. Everyone was flying kites and I also wanted to fly my kite but needed thread for it. So I happened to see a cremation ground where they had a lot of this thread tied all around. I just wrapped it up, came home and started flying the kite. My mother came and asked me where I got the thread from and I told her I got it from a cremation ground. She was shocked. She slapped me and told me to throw it right away. So it was a unique story that stood by me and I made it into a short film.

My second film is also an interesting one. I was a national record holder in athletics and had this weird fantasy where I wanted someone to snatch my wallet or mobile and run. And I wanted to make that person run every street in the place and finally catch him when he’s fully tired. And that’s how the story of Train Thief came about. I’ve co-directed another film titled Nayi Ammi that was written by Pratibha Sharma, Yashpal Sharma’s wife, who is a good friend.

A still from The Last Audition

A still from The Last Audition

Tell us about your latest short, The Last Audition. How did it become part of the anthology Shuruaat Ka Interval by HumaraMovie & PVR Director’s Rare?

I never had the story in my head but had the experience of auditioning for various acting roles where 200 random people are standing in long queues waiting for their turn. One day I decided that I should make something around it. I realized that actors are the people who struggle the most; you have more than 500 people trying for a small acting role. Everybody wants to be a star and try their luck. So this is a story of a struggler, one who is struggling not to act but how to give an audition and present himself. This guy doesn’t know English; he can just say his name and number. He wishes to say other things but cannot cope with it due to the language barrier and ultimately ends up doing something very dark.

When I got this opportunity to make a film for PVR Director’s Rare, I combined my experience and made a story out of it. Vinay Mishra and Preeti Ali (Imtiaz Ali’s wife) had this production venture called Humara Movies. They had seen Ram Naam Satya Hai long back and liked it, and asked me to make films for them. So I made Train Thief and many more films for them. The Shuruaat film festival was their initiative in association with PVR Director’s Rare. They asked me to make a film for it as well. The theme of the festival was ‘interval’. I told them the story and it got selected and that’s how Shuruaat Ka Interval happened. I then wanted a song in it and spoke to Kailash Kher. I told him that I wouldn’t be able to pay him for it but he was very accommodating and recorded the song (Filmy Duniya) at his studio free of charge.

What were the challenges or constraints that you’ve worked under for this film?

Production cost was the key challenge especially since we were supposed to make films on our own. Casting was also a difficult task, as I wanted to cast somebody who is a really good actor. I believe that if you don’t have a good cast, even the best of stories go haywire. Luckily, I knew the actor I wanted to cast and he liked the story and agreed to do it. He also suggested some other actors whom I auditioned and we went ahead with it. Everything else can be taken care of but if your performances aren’t good then everything else goes wasted.

The Last Audition was also selected at the Hanoi International Film Festival, 2014. How did that come about and what was the response you received?

We have sent the film for a couple of film festivals and we might be getting more nominations in the coming future. It was the official selection at Hanoi. During the Q&A, several media people asked questions and I was very happy because they were intelligent questions in context of the film, which showed that they had seen the film twice or thrice. I also met some really good people including the chief selector for Cannes Director’s Fortnight. He liked the film and even wrote me a mail sharing his thoughts.

A still from Rebellious Flower

A still from Rebellious Flower

As a filmmaker what do your films set out to achieve? What kind of films do you wish to make?

I’m not very fond of messages but am very fond of expression. If I have a story in my head, I just want to tell people this is how I feel about this particular situation or person. My films are mainly my take on something or someone.

Tell us about your upcoming film Rebellious flower?

It is a full-length feature film, a period biopic on Osho till he got enlightened. I happened to meet someone who was a friend and follower of Osho and wanted to make a feature on him. He told me a lot about Osho and I realized we don’t know much about him, what we have is half knowledge, so I decided to do it. We shot on real locations and received a lot of help from Osho’s family. We will be sending it to Cannes since they need the film to be premiered there first. Then we plan to release it in Europe followed by USA and then India sometime this year.

What projects are you currently working on?

I’m writing a film and have two more bound scripts for feature length films. I’m in conversation with people including two big actors. I’ve also directed one more feature called School that has Yashpal Sharma, Anupam Shah and few others and is likely to release this year.