We are nothing more than the memories we make. Is that why we live recklessly at times but cautiously for the most? Everywhere you look tools whereby we can forget surround us. Be it film, music, food, porn or prayer, the goal seems to be to numb, switch off, escape, forget. But on a recent recce to Coonoor & Ooty for my next film Love Affair, nostalgia hit me like a ton of bricks. Fifteen long years after my last visit here, I chose not to field my ghosts and remembered instead.
Dil Hai Ke Manta Nahin, Sadak, Prem Deewane...the list goes on. The heady scent of eucalyptus, miles and miles of impossibly blue skies, discovering one’s worth through work, pushing boundaries, learning, revelling in friendships and falling in love. Breaking one’s heart. Picking up stray fragments of your heart and placing them at the feet of a new dawn.
The unearthing of an irrepressible core that miraculously heals and finds the strength to beat on.
I cut back to the present. My director Soni Razdan, cinematographer Anshuman Mahaley and production manager Chakkida are identifying areas of the market place that would help us evoke the fifties — the time frame that my next film is set in — with ease and at a minimal cost. Budgets and timeframes are what make my films guaranteed money-spinners. Any fool can make a film for 20 odd crore rupees. But to stretch a budget without compromising on quality and deliver a product that can hold its own amongst the best of the best requires passion, grit and skill. My committed crew is irreplaceable because of the miles it has walked with me, because of our shared history.
We arrive at Regent Villa — a location that I have shot countless films at. It feels like a familiar, old friend. I run my hands over the unfinished walls, hug a tree that’s been standing there stoically over time and pick a wild flower that I tuck behind my ear. Nostalgia is a dangerous drug indeed, but then so is film. It’s an opiate.
I return to Mumbai. It is my mother’s birthday. My father sings for us. Eventually what binds us to each other are gossamer threads of memory.
(Pooja Bhatt is an actress-turned-filmmaker. She has directed films such as Holiday and Jism 2.)