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4th Jagran Film Festival: Films are meant for the general public, says Nitin Kakkar

The apprehensions of not having a proper Friday release and why film festivals matter. His debut film won the National Award for Best Hindi Feature. However, Nitin Kakkar’s Filmistan is yet to go on a commercial scale.

Director Nitin Kakkar
Director Nitin Kakkar. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar

The much-appreciated film opened to overflowing crowd at the Jagran Film Festival. Replete with Bollywood-ish dialogues and quirky characters, the film is more subtle than preachy. We caught up with the 37-year-old filmmaker to understand the dynamics and patience that goes into play when a debutant’s work is acclaimed.

Your film deals with quite a contentious issue like border but with a dose of humour. Was that deliberate?
Humour, if used properly, can express serious ideas in a mild way. That’s the reason why you’ll notice so many jokes that actually poke fun at the absurd realities of our times more than anything else. Jingoism can only be challenged with laughter.

And why did you choose such a topic for a debut film?
The idea was to make a film (smiles). As simple as that. I knew I had to make this one. It could have been a different story saying the same thing. That’s the abstract part. In the real world, what happens is you don’t get a producer. You may have the best script in hand but finding a believer in your script is a difficult task. The producers decide what is going to be your first film. I had three scripts but Satellite Pictures was interested in Filmistan and that’s when it took off.

How long did the whole process take?
I started working on script in 2011 and we started shooting in early 2012. The first screening happened at the Busan Film Festival in October last year.

Don’t you think when a movie is labelled as artsy, it works against it?
I don’t know how the labelling business takes place in the media or the industry. All I know is that a film is meant for the general public. Size doesn’t even matter. Big or small, a filmmaker’s dream is to let others have a view. A film festival is an effective way of bringing cinema to people. And to answer your question about the artsy tag, films like Ship of Theseus and The Lunchbox proved that films can do justice to both film festivals as well as box-office.

So can we expect Filmistan to test itself at the marquee anytime soon?
I’m afraid to answer that question because it’s been almost a year since I’ve started expecting it to have a commercial release. There’s not much a director can do about such things. I hope it does though, before this year ends. As a filmmaker who writes, it’s hard to move on to the next project when the earlier one is not released. Also, I write my own films because I can’t afford to pay a writer to write for me (laughs). Nobody works for free in this industry!

What next?
I’ve already started working on it. In fact, Sharib Hashmi (the actor and dialogue writer of Filmistan) is collaborating with me on my next. I don’t know who is going to act in it but the writing has started so yes, that’s progress enough.

Since you started as a TV show writer, do you see yourself going back to small screen?
See, when I started off as a television writer, shows like Buniyaad and Malgudi Days were my inspiration. If something of that sort is happening on the TV again, I’ll definitely go ahead and contribute my bit. I have nothing against the medium (smiles).

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