Seven films, Seven directors, One ‘Shor’
‘Shor’ or Noise, a word that we so causally use was given a new meaning by seven new directors. An initiative of Preety Ali, Vinay Mishra and Pallavi Rohatgi from HumaraMovie where they work with young talent through their venture ‘Shuruaat’ to create an anthology where first-time directors are given a chance to make a movie on a given theme. After the success of Shuruaat Ka Interval, the second installment in the franchise called Shor se Shuruaat brought forth the theme of Shor with various facets of this concept being explored in the seven movies.
What made this anthology even more special was the involvement of the very best names from the industry who mentored the young directors. The mentors included versatile filmmakers like Mira Nair, Zoya Akhtar, Shyam Benegal, Imtiaz Ali, Nagesh Kukunoor, Sriram Raghavan and Homi Adajania each of whom handpicked a director to guide.
The entire process was a great learning experience for each of the filmmakers. “Imtiaz Ali has been my film school from whom I have learnt more about life and I believe that is what gets translated in my films,” said Satish Raj Kasireddi, Director, Mia I’M. Talking about her mentor Homi Adajania, Arunima Sharma, Director, Yellow Tin Can Telephone said, “When it comes to craft, Homi has taught me meticulous detailing in the production design and costumes of a film, solid pre-production, thinking on your feet, being open to new ideas and trusting your instinct when on set. He develops a strong bond with his actors and gets to know them intimately, so he’s able to tap into their emotional resources while directing them and bringing out fabulous performances. I’m still learning that.”
Though this is an anthology of seven different films all the directors have worked as a unit to create this feature film. “It is exciting as well challenging to work on this anthology. There’s good energy with so many young filmmakers buzzing with ideas. We were curious about each other’s films and even gave each other feedback at different stages of the film. We were constantly in touch discussing our hurdles and solutions in the process of making our films. It was interesting to see the final anthology and how all of us have interpreted the theme so differently from each other,” added Arunima.
While exploring the theme, some directors concentrated on the outside noise, while others took a journey within. “Shor as a theme gives us a large spectrum to explore and interpret in many different ways. What it means to me can be very different from what it means to you. Internal chaos of your mind, trying to shut out the crazy noises of the real or virtual world that affect us so much or just simply missing the magic that sounds can add, there is a whole lot to explore. A lot of things whether socially relevant or personal conflicts or even the literal impact that sound has on our lives come under the wing of this word Shor,” said Supriya Sharma, Director, Dhvani.
Adding to this, Rahul V. Chittella, Director, Azaad, shared, “When we were given the word Shor, I wanted to explore the shor that was within us. That is how I began my story. I did not want to write about the noise that comes from the external world. It is much more exciting to work with characters who are dealing with the noise within.”
Unlike Rahul, Pratik Kothari, Director, Hello Hello, found inspiration from external noise. “I was thinking about the term shor and the things related to it that affect me. Initially, I was thinking about something based on honking, but I could not making something concrete out of it. The next thing that hugely affected me were these hard selling advertisements. Whenever I look around there is somebody trying to sell me something,” added Kothari.
An interesting thing about Hello Hello is that it gave Pratik the rare opportunity to work with Gulzar so early on in his career. “I was constantly thinking about this poetry by Gulzar ‘Ishtehaaron ka sheher hai ye shayad’ and I realized I was getting closer and closer to the story. I approached him for the theme song as I could not use the original poetry and he graciously agreed to write it. The theme song sums up the film very well for me,” he concluded.
Bringing in yet another perspective, Satish said, “The theme of Shor couldn’t have been more appropriate in today’s day and age of social media and its influence in our lives, as my film deals with the noise created by social media, which can either destroy someone or redeem them.”
And what are their thoughts on working on an anthology, which as a concept is relatively new and thus, not easy to make. Elaborating on this Satish said, “An anthology really puts your mettle to test as it is not a popular format with respect to viewership. The biggest challenge would be to say a complete story in a short time within a story. It’s a challenging and brave step forward by HumaraMovie.”
While Supriya added, “The biggest challenge of an anthology is to somehow find a connection in the whole experience. Even with the same theme or subject, the films can be vastly different hence stitching them together becomes one of the most important creative decisions. Even if the subject is not the same, the idea to give the viewers an experience of watching little stories and yet having a good experience as a whole without losing attention is a big challenge.”
The one common ground between all the films is the massive change that shor has brought in our lifestyle and how relevant it is to address this subject. “The theme is more relevant today than ever. There’s cacophony around us in every way – noise, clashing opinions, digital clutter, political unrest, extreme injustice, wars. And to keep ourselves sane, all of us need to find our happy place above the noise. It can be a song, a poem, a cup of tea or a glimpse of the sea, we need to find our ‘silence’ to be able to deal with the ‘noise’,” Arunima commented.
The anthology covers a vast spectrum of various emotions that are related to the presence and absence of noise or shor. From a man on a death row to a girl with oversensitive hearing to a small boy with a hearing disability, this film leaves you with a number of thoughts.