Actor-director Rajat Kapoor on how the shift from metropolitan centres towards India’s interiors is benefiting the film industry
In this year’s edition of Jagran Film Festival, many films earned standing ovations and loud whistles. Rajat Kapoor’s Ankhon Dekhi was one of them. After the screening, he spoke to cine-enthusiasts and even posed for selfies with the crowd. hitlist caught up with the actor-director...
Rajat Kapoor. Pics/Satayit Desai
Ankhon Dekhi was lauded by critics but it attracted lukewarm response at the box office. So how does such a film’s screening at a film fest help?
Well, this exposure helps build an audience for future films of a similar nature. Audiences aren’t built in a day. And I’ve noticed this not only in India but also in foreign countries. Two days ago, I was in Chicago for a film fest and next week, I’ll be in Rome for the same. Ankhon Dekhi will have two shows there. Even if 300 people show up, it’s a triumph for us. Of course, I don’t expect the kind of impact Gangs of Wasseypur had at Cannes. But it’s only when you go out there with your films, that you learn about them and in the process, a bit about yourself.
What are your thoughts on the rising number of film fests in our country?
It’s a wonderful idea, especially when an established brand like Jagran throws itself into the arena. Most film festivals take place in metropolitan areas, Jagran Film Festival goes on a long ride through 16 cities, including smaller cities like Agra, Ranchi, Patna and Varanasi. People out there get a chance to taste a piece of this cinema.
So do you think such measures will bring a drastic change in our attitude towards cinema in smaller towns?
Getting at least 200 people to watch a small film is a victory in itself and a film festival allows that possibility. You take these baby steps towards making a particular kind of cinema accessible to all. For example, we were having a play in Ranchi and it was based on Hamlet. Now Vinay (Pathak) was apprehensive about the crowd because the play was in English. But we were in for a surprise as more than 400 people turned up for the show. So let’s change our perception about smaller towns. It’s only when we go there and see things first hand that we’ll understand them.
The point is that you can never predict where talent and new ideas are going to flourish. Think about it. Anurag Kashyap came from Benares, right? He didn’t have a fancy education from Doon’s, did he?
What drives you as a filmmaker?
Conviction and aesthetics drive me. Every filmmaker wants to do something different but sometimes, it clicks and sometimes it doesn’t. I admire Woody Allen a lot. He makes at least one film a year but not all of his work has hit the mark. He keeps himself driven by the stories he wants to tell.
What’s next for you?
Well, I can’t work on my next project unless I have enough funding. Money is always an issue for the kind of films I want to make. I will anyway spend say, a month in a year attending film festivals since Ankhon Dekhi released only recently. The other months will see writing, acting and gathering funds for my next venture.