Shivendra Singh Dungarpur’s next documentary on Jiri Menzel
Ambitious documentarian Shivendra Singh Dungarpur’s film Celluloid Man on P. K Nair is still running successfully in film festivals all across the globe with screenings planned in Edinburgh and Shanghai as well. It has further inspired Shivendra Singh to make yet another documentary on the legendary Czech film-maker Jiri Menzel. It was an herculean task for Shivendra to speak to the elusive film maker who is a man of few words. “A lot of friends from the Czech film industry asked me how I had managed to get him to agree to this,” says Dungarpur. Shivendra wrote to Menzel over several months before the lengendary director agreed to meet him in Prague in a small café. The meeting that took so much of persuasion proved to be a success. Menzel was intrigued that an Indian filmmaker wanted to come all the way to make a film on him and that people had taken a keen interest in his work and had watched his films in India. “It is only when we met and he saw the piles of research that we had done that he changed his mind and invited us to his home the next day. But of course we got very little time in that schedule – just two days,” Dungarpur says, “Jiri has a great sense of humour, but he does not like to talk about his films.”
In 2011, he gave Dungarpur another couple of days to shoot with him in Prague and then finally a few more days in May 2013. Menzel’s debut film “Closely Watched Trains was the main source of inspiration of Shivendra Singh Dungarpur who says he watched the film over and over again, during his student days at Film and Television Institute of India. “I was intrigued by the way Jiri Menzel used political satire as a tool of political resistance in his films,” he says.
The documentary is expected to be complete by the end of this year. Dungarpur has shot not just with Menzel but also with his actors, cinematographers, his contemporaries from the Czech New Wave like Vera Chytilova, Jan Nemec, Juraj Herz and Hynek Bocan. He is still hoping to shoot with Milos Forman and Ivan Passer. A five-minute teaser of the film will be launched in IL Cinema Ritrovato festival in Bologna, Italy in July.