We had complete liberty to shape the film as we wanted – Rahul Chittella
2015 saw HumaraMovie release their first feature, Shuruaat Ka Interval, an anthology of short films. They are now back with their second feature Shor Se Shuruaat, which will premiere at the Jio MAMI 18th Mumbai Film Festival. With the common theme of Shor (Noise), the seven shorts in the film will be helmed by debutant associate directors and team members of renowned filmmakers like Shyam Benegal, Imtiaz Ali, Raju Hirani, Mira Nair, Zoya Akhtar and others.
One such short is writer and director Rahul V Chittella’s Azaad which will be presented by acclaimed filmmaker Mira Nair. Rahul, who has been Nair’s associate for a long time and was recommended by her, tells us more about the film.
What is the premise of Azaad?
Our film features Atul Kulkarni as the protagonist Azaad who is a journalist by profession. Set against a sociopolitical backdrop, the story revolves around Azaad’s beliefs and his dysfunctional relationship with his child.
It was a good challenge for us to see if we could make a film on such a shoestring budget
Can you talk about the casting process? How did you zero in on Atul Kulkarni and Sakshi Tanwar?
They were my first choice for the roles. When I finished writing, my team and I were certain that we would take the script to Atul. I didn’t know him personally, but I had a common friend who had worked with him. He told Atul about the film and that’s how we approached him. Atul read the script and within two days, he agreed to do the film. Sakshi too was the first choice but again, I did not know her either. So I just wrote to her, sent her the script, and she was on board pretty much immediately.
I met Nandu Madhav during the auditions and discussed the scenes with him. He has only two scenes but has enacted them exactly in the way that I wanted. Siddharth Menon, who plays Sameer, was the last guy to come on board. We auditioned several actors before him. But he came at the last minute since he was busy promoting another film, auditioned for the role and nailed it.
How did you work around the making of this zero budget film?
HumaraMovie gave us a minimal budget to hire our camera and equipments. But as far as the cast and crew were concerned, no one was paid. It was a good challenge for us to see if we could make a film on such a shoestring budget. And we had all the liberty to shape the film as we wanted. That got the cast and crew excited to come on board.
Atul was shooting in Chennai and he flew down to Mumbai for the two days of shoot. Even Sakshi cancelled a major event outside the city to accommodate the shoot. The crew too were very supportive and gave us free access to work in their studios. They were all excited that we could do something without the pressure of delivering an end product, which is controlled by somebody else.
Set against a sociopolitical backdrop, the story revolves around Azaad’s beliefs and his dysfunctional relationship with his child.
The story revolves around Azaad’s beliefs and his dysfunctional relationship with his child
What does getting a premiere at MAMI mean to you and the film?
It is great! And I am excited for all the films that are part of Shor Se Shuruaat. MAMI is a fantastic festival. And it is lovely to start from a city where all of us have grown up. MAMI is also about film enthusiasts as much as it is a meeting ground for filmmakers. There are so many people who come to watch films purely out of their love for films. They aren’t even related to the making of the films and you get them as your audience, which is superb for a short film.
As a filmmaker you always desire to reach out to maximum people. MAMI brings it all together. It’s lovely to showcase your films to strangers and gauge their reactions. You understand how much of what you intended to say or make has reached the audience, and what they think of it. I am absolutely excited yet nervous. (laughs)