One divided by 11

What happens when multiple directors direct different parts of the same film? Sudhish Kamath, one of the 11, tells us

Multiple directors collaborating on one film is nothing new. While New York Stories had Woody Allen, Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola directing three separate NYC-themed segments, closer home, Bombay Talkies had Anurag Kashyap, Dibakar Banerjee, Zoya Akhtar and Karan Johar working on stories rooted in the Maximum City.

 The cast of X: Past is Present includes Swara Bhaskar (in pic), Rajat Kapoor, Anshuman Jha, Huma Qureshi, Radhika Apte, Parno Mitra and Rii Sen among others
The cast of X: Past is Present includes Swara Bhaskar (in pic), Rajat Kapoor, Anshuman Jha, Huma Qureshi, Radhika Apte, Parno Mitra and Rii Sen among others

However, X: Past is Present, claims to be different. It has 11 directors, working on one continuous narrative instead of individual shorts. It started as an experiment at The Goa Project, a annual multi-disciplinary conference, but soon became a full-blown film.

Sudhish Kamath
Sudhish Kamath

“On one hand, you have Rajashree Ojha of Aisha fame, Suparn Verma who did Aatma and Nalan Kumaraswamy who does Tamil commercial films; on the other, you have Qaushiq Mukherjee aka Q, known for his genre-defying movies. The idea was to bring filmmakers from opposite ends of the spectrum with disparate styles of storytelling.

We wanted to bridge the gap between the two kinds of cinema that exist in India today,” says Sudhish Kamath, who has directed the holding story of the film. “It is hard to believe but I once saw Q dancing to Kajra re at an after-party. If such a hardcore anti-Bollywood guy can enjoy a mainstream item number, although he will deny it if you ask him, then anything can happen!

That incident gave me the conviction that this ‘absurd’ idea might actually work,” laughs Kamath. He reveals that Q is doing a version of Devdas in his segment, “But, of course with a twist,” he says, adding however, that directors and their individual scripts will not be identified. The plot revolves around a director attending a film festival where he meets a mysterious girl.

She reminds him of his former girlfriend, rather, girlfriends. “Each director deals with the memory of a girlfriend and each woman represents a different genre — comedy, romedy, horror, drama, conversation, dramedy, erotica and so on. Just as memories, these don’t have clear beginnings or endings and one often collapses into the other; each story has an echo in another.

The stories are all interlinked,” explains Kamath, who has directed the ‘thread story’. Each of the 11 directors was given a few parameters to follow while weaving their stories. “There is a constant and a variable. The constant is what keeps the film together while the variables are the ‘X’ factors each director brings through their stories,” says Kamath.

The more difficult task was that of the editor’s who had to stitch all patchworks into one fabric. “We approached National Award-winning film editor A Sreekar Prasad. However, there was a technical issue in the software used. So, instead, he marked the edits.

Then we got Vijay Prabakaran, who edited it and then compared the notes and once all the boxes were ticked off, we sent it to Sreekar sir, who okayed it with a few more cuts,” reveals Kamath of the 105-minute film that is slated for a November-end release.

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