So what we do is, from what I’ve learnt, you use a set up. I don’t believe in mise-en-scène or master shots or any of that rubbish. The whole idea of mise-en-scène being that the frame tells the story, right? And I think that’s where I probably went wrong, in terms of the dialogues of Home Delivery…
You give him a computer, which he’s been struggling with. Why couldn’t they have four sons, five sons or one son? When you say you don’t believe in all that, you mean you don’t look at your film through those… Your frame was telling the story as well, and I can’t believe it’s not conscious, you know?
In comes Vidya, and in a matter of a seconds, helps him defeat the computer. Also Sonny Corleone (in Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather). It was a damn good set up because Sonny was the perfect heir to the empire. What about pure technique, I mean, say something like a camera movement, or something like a shot or a framing?
And in the process, she becomes a heroine in Rana’s eyes. So Michael’s journey becomes so much more difficult for him, compared to Sonny, and then you start actually investing in Michael, which is the most predominant thing in the story. My only framing reference till date has been a film called Mahanagar by Ray, which was filmed by Subrata Mitra.
I read the script with them once, or a couple of times. I think it’s extremely important and I think that’s the process where you should spend the maximum time, as much as you can, given your budget, given your time. So they knew the situations, they knew what we had to say in that situation to further the story. So Kahaani was a more independent process for them.
Now he comes from a very average middle class family. So he hasn’t really been exposed to too many women, right? But the problem is, the moment you take a master shot you give in to all those clichés: “master shot yeh-woh hai (whether a master shot is this or that)”. But it’s interesting to me, because in Kahaani I felt like you were telling the story. It was a nice interpretation of things, in terms of analyzing cinema and everything. Name three filmmakers whom you’d like to talk to about their process, other than Ray. Have you collaborated with any other writers on your scripts? Now the punch lines are in English— when you try to put them in Hindi, one line becomes four lines.
And unless that world is believable, your movie won’t work.
Because that’s the process in which you build the world in which you’re setting your film. And then you also work on the design of the song, in terms of, if you think within the song where Juhi (Chawla) is going to come, and she’s going to find the girl Shayan (Munshi) is in love with and we are going to establish how Juhi is a really nice character; even when she’s pregnant she gives her seat to somebody else.
Master Frames is a new series on the craft of cinema, in which we invite filmmakers, technicians and actors to deconstruct their processes for you. No matter what the calamity is, no matter what shit is going on, she would hold it together. Even Deep and Rishi, they’re also people I know, in Calcutta. People who have to be funny all the time, even when they don’t want to be.
The people featured on this series are doing some of the most remarkable work happening in Indian cinema today and have a lot to offer to those who wish to learn from them or those who would simply like a backstage tour. How do you know you’ve found something to make into a film? But it’s the character they have built, they’re the funny guys, the clowns, so they have to keep cracking those one liners, you have no escape, because you’re your own monster. When I created the world of Aladin, when I created Khwaish (a fictional city), I made sure that I did it by the book. So, in Aladin, the streets are cobbled, all the houses are heritage, so there’ll be no paint on any houses because heritage houses can’t have paint.