July 28, 2012

Surviving Chaos and Contradictions

My blog posts have become less frequent over the past couple of months. I regret this, but can’t help it. Even my movie-count has dipped down, and life has been chaotic. It might be difficult for me to explain this, but I’ll try.

Note: Since my brother and I work as a team, ‘I’ in the following lines will often mean ‘We’.

Recently, our first song as lyricists was released. It hardly became a rage, but friends and family loved it. As congratulatory messages continue to pour in, we are hardly affected. The reason being this – we are presently writing songs for a different film. And all the struggle and inexperience as lyricists is haunting us again. It hardly matters that others are loving a song that we wrote some years ago, and this contradiction is unnerving and inspiring at the same time.

Since mid-June, I have resumed my 'Understanding Cinema' lectures at National College with a new bunch of students. It feels good to see them grow and learn before my eyes, to find them passionate and persistent. And in my heart I know that my effort to improve as a teacher is yielding results. But it’s strange how, in order to make them understand the nuances of film-making, I’m changing their vague ideas into clearly defined methods and rules. It’s strange because between last semester and this I have discovered the importance of intuition and spontaneity and the limitations of method and am trying my best to change my ‘methodical’ self into a more spontaneous being. My insistence on method and film-grammar in my lectures then seems to me a contradiction to my changing beliefs. How right or wrong I am – I have no idea.

It’s also an irony that the image of mine before the students is exactly opposite to that in the professional world – at least as far as film directing is concerned. The truth is, despite having written a feature script that everyone loves, we are yet to prove our worth as directors. Every short film we are making is below par and we know that there is so much more to learn before we expect someone to back us with finance and production. We feel like novices there, trying our best to find a way out, when the experience as a film-buff or a teacher fails to help us in any way. When it comes to directing films, we are yet to be able to call ourselves ‘directors’.

The savings in our accounts have depleted and we are currently living off our Dad’s money. We need money to survive, and we need money to invest in our short films. And in order to earn, we want to take certain projects that will only affect our time and attention with our own projects. What do we do then? How do we get rid of this dilemma?

And then, our safety zone. We are not great script-writers, but script-writing is what we are best at. That is our best bet. But even there, we are struggling. For the last two years, we have been working, on and off, on a feature film for a director and dear friend. After having written three full drafts of the film, we have decided to start with the blank page again – all those months and drafts were actually ‘the preparation’. The real writing begins now. We had submitted a previous draft of that script to Sundance Screenwriting Lab, India edition and a few hours ago I received an email informing us that it has been shortlisted for the next round. The news did bring a little joy into our chaotic world, but the truth is – it’s just the first step. There is still one stage to cross before we are selected into the final round. That we have to submit the next draft within five weeks is not a comforting idea either.

Where does one stand in such a chaos then? How do I tell my students that the stress I’m feeling with my feature projects is so much more than their individual struggles with their college projects? How do I remove their insecurities and doubts when I myself am troubled with these? A dear friend had called a couple of days ago and asked how well I was. I told him what I truly believe, that this perhaps is the darkest hour before the dawn. And also that money and opportunities will not be major problems for us in near future. The real challenge will be to be able to deliver something excellent despite this chaos and contradiction – and that is something no one can help us with. We will have to bear the responsibility of everything beautiful and crappy about our creations.

Amidst all this, I got the chance to watch ‘Gattu’. The palpable honesty and conviction behind the film made my day. The smile that it brought on my face and the inspiration it infused in me with its simplicity and courage is going to help me for the next few days, until the persistent chaos of my life overpowers me again and makes me insecure. Perhaps I’ll need to turn to some other film then to help me survive.


  1. Don't worry about your teaching Sir, it's amazing the way you teach, and is certainly inspiring. It'd inspire your last lot of students,'us'. We no longer have those vague ideas. Most Importantly, we are able to put it on our paper now, which feels like heaven. We don't know want we did without you. I don't know want we did without you sir. I wake up everyday and I know there's script I have to work on. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and pro guidance mixed with pure-awesomeness!

  2. Sir
    I really do not know how to react. This is probably the first time I am seeing you in doubt and dilemma. And believe me this really disturbs me too. I know you need more than 'words' at this time. But words are all I have. You have been out of much worse situations before. And you would be out this time too. This is just a phase. May be a very difficult one. But It would pass. Don't waste your creative energies stuffing your mind and thinking about the fruit of your actions. Not many people are fortunate enough to realize their dreams. You are the chosen one. 'Gotham needs you batman'. You just need to preserve your hope. 'Remember Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies'.
    Wait, do your bit, be hopeful, be creative, let the destiny play its part. Beacause 'Out of the darkness...comes the Knight'.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. @Yatin: Thank you for your kind words. You don't know how much it means to me.

    @Mohit: I have always cherished the conversations I have had with you, with or without words. And I know your best wishes are always with me. So I forgive the hyperbole in your attempt - Batman and all. :)
    Don't be disturbed Mohit. A dear friend just sent me a beautiful SMS. Here it is:
    "Life gives answers in three ways... It says YES and gives what you want... It says NO and gives something better... Or it says WAIT and gives you the best in its own time!"