Being between films is always a difficult time for a filmmaker. One half of your brain says, “Wait, the ideas will come…”, while the other half says, “Hurry up and get back to work!”
In a dog-eat-dog world, one is inclined to give in to the latter half. But it may not always be the better half!
While I was grappling with what to do next after completing Once Upon A Time In Mumbai (OUATIM), The Dirty Picture, and OUATIM Dobaara — all made within a span of four years, I got a call from my Los Angeles-based friend, Yusuf. “You’ve done some wonderful and exhaustive work in the last few years,” he said. “It’s all work that has defined you,” he pointed out. I agreed.
He then continued, “I hope you are taking some time off now to smell the roses.” Now this was advice that instantly rang a bell. Much to the chagrin of producers waiting for me to start work on their projects, I decided to spend some me-time time in order to ‘smell the roses’.
And so I travelled. From New York to Pune, and then to Germany. I read lots of books; watched stunning Broadway performances. I even caught up on the latest in cinema and television, and interacted with professionals from various walks of life, speaking to them about the shape of things to come. And I did a lot of thinking.
In what is perhaps the youngest country in the world (India), cinema has been agonisingly late in accommodating change. In fact, some yesteryear classics, made by filmmakers like Shyam Benegal, Ketan Mehta and their ilk, were far more progressive than the films of today. Even as I observed our contemporary society, I got the feeling that we are on the threshold of a major change. It is this insight that I relied on during my thinking process, my scripting process. Audiences today are young, restless, bold, and mostly optimistic. They are more aware than any prior generation. And that awareness has to be respected and catered to.
All of which means that now is an exciting time to be a filmmaker. Changing content, evolving visual styles, revolutionary music — it’s all happening here and now. And having taken some time off to ‘smell the roses’, I am raring to go now! Be it films directed by me — I am soon starting work on one — or the ones produced by my company, change will be our mantra.
For those who are caught up in the rat race of their lives and businesses, I am going to suggest that they follow my friend Yusuf’s advice, and make the most of the insight they get when they ‘smell the roses’!
Milan Luthria is a filmmaker best known for his films such as The Dirty Picture, Once Upon A Time in Mumbaai and Taxi No 9211. He started his career in the year 1999.