#1 Learning from the experts – Abhinay Deo

The following are a few points that I noted during a discussion with Abhinay Deo, the Director of Game, Delhi Belly, 24 (TV Series, Indian adaptation) and many advertisements.

  • The film Delhi Belly is written by Akshat Verma. His Wikipedia page is non existent. And that explains how underrated the makers of the film are. People will love and remember his jokes, but not his name
  • It took Akshat nine years to be confident enough with his script to approach production houses
  • Abhinay, the director was introduced to the film after the 15th draft, and so was the rest of the crew
  • What was his (Abhinay’s) contribution to the film, if he was introduced after the 15th draft? – The film was completely a Hollywood film with the bad guy wearing a cowboy hat. Now if you spot someone wearing one in Delhi, he is most likely to get shot in the head (which the bad guy actually does in the film anyway). So coming to the point, the film had to be Indian-ised. Adding elements to the film which would make it more realistic. There are scenes where one of the characters has an unhygienic item off the streets which causes Delhi Belly (upset stomach)
  • All the disgusting fart sounds were made by mouth and by the director himself!
  • As the editor is introduced at a much later stage, what is his role in a film? Does he contribute to the story? – It is said that the film is first made on the writing table and on the edit table. Of course each and every individual involved in the film, contributes something, consciously or unconsciously towards the film. However, storytelling is above all
  • The editing of the film took about 1 1/2 years
  • You need to invest time in what you want to do
  • Television or Film? – Both actually because whether it is advertising, TV or films, everything comes under the bigger term filmmaking. As long as I am a filmmaker, anything would do. If I have to choose, I prefer films over television
  • We knew that 24 will not appeal to everyone. And it didn’t. Certain parts of India did not accept the modern method and different genre in television. But our objective was never to reach “everyone” but the young generation. My mother likes the saas-bahu serials and I can never tolerate them. But that is a matter of personal likes and dislikes
  • It was important to make 24, because it will only encourage others to step out of the regular mundane subjects shown on television. If we have more TV serials like 24 in the future, made by anyone, doesn’t matter, then that will be our success

#11 Write ups – Being human (2013)

Have you watched the ‘Planet of the Apes’ film franchise? I find the concept of humans being dominated by another superior species very tempting.

But in reality, why exactly, do we control the planet?

Science provides some useful insights. Let’s visit our distant cousins, chimps. A recent study showed that our genes and the ones in a chimp are 98.6% identical. So theoretically speaking we are 99% chimpanzee and 1% human. All of it, that makes us human, accounts for that tiny one percent and yet it makes a huge difference.

1.Chimps don’tknow “me”

If you put a mirror in front of a chimpanzee, it fails to recognize that it is his own impression. It takes a chimp a lot more time than a 4-year-old child to understand that the image is not another chimp. Self-recognition doesn’t come naturally to chimps. And neither does the need to improve beyond physical being.

2.Chimps don’tknow “you”

We have achieved positive results in making them speak through gestures. Dolphins are even more sophisticated in this matter. Apes solve puzzles efficiently and can find answers. But if you put two apes together with a puzzle with only one of them knowing the method to solve it, the other one would not ask him the solution. And that’s theproblem. Unlike humans, every animal fails to understand the possibility of other better, intelligent mind. No laboratory has made an animal ask a question, till date.

And that’s how we evolved, didn’t we? Making a long story short, every new step was a question. A creative interpretation of a possibility! We make use of the knowledge bestowed upon us by our ancestors as a stepping-stone to climb up and move forward. We have learnt, not only from humans but from our other co habitants as well. (Remember Da Vinci’s glider inspired by bats?)

We very proudly assume that we control the world. But do we?

We are self-proclaimed masters of the universe. At the moment, here on planet Earth, there are just above 7 billion (7,000,000,000) human beings. But the number of insects is staggering. It is estimated that there are ~ 10 quintillion (10,000,000,000,000,000,000)insects. Imagine if all of them unite and plan a counter attack on us.  We are critically outnumbered and gravely endangered.

No matter what level we reach, it is essential to keep learning, growing and sharing wisdom. And very importantly, not considering any person or any thing for that matter, inferior. Because that’s a part of the tiny 1% that makes us human.

#1 Richard Linklater – Before Sunrise

The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.
– Aristotle 

Isn’t romance the most common, yet strikingly difficult way to connect with people? The common misconception is linking romance with love. Well, in most cases, it is true. But romance is much more than just love. It is the excitement and mystery, the sudden urge of pushing yourself beyond reason and indulging outside the boundaries of your body. And I feel romantic these days.

Before Sunrise takes place as an American youngster meets a French girl on a train, and they decide to spend the evening together in Vienna. Jesse (Ethan Hawke), asks Céline (Julie Delpy) to get down with him at Vienna, just after a few minutes of conversation. And she agrees. And they explore the city, as they share a few of their random and intimate thoughts about, everything. They fall in love with each other. And in the end, promise to meet at the same place after 6 months and resume their respective lives. That’s all.

The basic idea of having just a few hours with someone interesting is extremely fascinating. You see, all of our friends, love interests are interesting people. We like something about them, that’s why we choose to interact with them. But over the period of time, we run out of interest in them. The freshness fades away. But what if we had only about 12 hours with them. Wouldn’t we talk about absolutely everything? And the best part is, even if we screw up, even if our honest opinions contradict with their opinions, it is alright. Because after some time, we don’t have to bear the burden of being with them.

As our characters explore, the camera moves with them. Literally moves with them. The idea of the film is being realistic, without the drama of choppy editing. We indulge into simple, tracking shots, only adding subtle highlights when required with a close up. The whole film is a conversation. Contradicts to the convention that a film is a visual medium and dialogue must be kept to its minimum. If it is interesting and well crafted, anything goes.

Our life is a reflection of ourselves. We see others, but we can never see how we look like, what we are. The movie revolves around the discovery of one’s self through a significant other. The characters converse with each other, which essentially creates an impact on their own lives. The film refers to someone you might know. Someone whose name will suffice and add more meaning to the unique writing style the film has adopted. The film takes place on Bloomsday and the person I am talking about is James Joyce. 

#10 Write ups – The Universe Is Expanding (2013)

For a few months now, I have been reading some absolutely random facts of the world we live in. On one of such endeavours of mine, I stumbled upon the concept of time. You see, The Big Bang is widely considered as the beginning of everything. What happened before The Big Bang? It is a bit complicated because there was no ‘before’ before it. Time is the result of expansion of the Universe and so are the spatial dimensions. Everything, every single bit of it was wound up together, compressed and limited to the greatest possible extent. And then, BOOM.

And so was our life, before we started exploring the world. Using media to connect with people and sharing information; gaining knowledge! Life, as we know it right now, has a different meaning altogether from what our ancestors recognized then.

Not too long ago, just a few thousand years back quenching the hunger and the thirst of our body, was the ultimate goal. Everything else seemed miniscule. But today, most of us don’t need to hunt for it. Not everyday. Our thirst is a different kind of thirst altogether. We seek – knowledge, power, recognition, status.

I can imagine how grand a Neanderthal must’ve felt on hunting a wild boar. The sense of not having to hunt for a few days was the greatest achievement. And not much has changed. We struggle to get ourselves up the corporate ladder and once we get there we feel relieved. But on looking at the larger picture, how much does the achievement of the Neanderthal weigh, today? And how much is our greatest achievement, no matter how great, is going to weigh, tomorrow?

Think about it this way – Britney Spears is considered the Pop Goddess, today. But tomorrow, when we go interstellar and colonise ‘in a galaxy far, far away’; do you think we need to carry this information over there? Nope. And we don’t need our marks in geography in our 9th grade or that silver medal and certainly we don’t need our followers on Twitter.

So, why do we take it so hard on ourselves?

When you look at the picture taken by Voyager I, the farthest human-made object from Earth from ~ 6 billion kilometers away, you can’t tell the difference between me and the richest person on the planet. You can’t say if I am wearing a Gucci or something off the streets. Basically you don’t care if I exist or not, because I am so miniscule.

Take our aggregate living as a grand opera night and ourselves as the double-chin-singer. When we perform, the spotlight is on us, and the house lights are dim. We don’t know what the audience thinks of the performance when we are performing. Yet we put up a good show, not for the people in the dark, but for the person in the spotlight. Because we owe it to him…

Our being may not bother anyone else, but it always bothers ourselves, our loved ones. We don’t need to prove anything in life because life has no hypothesis. All of it comes down to the moments that make us feel on the top of the world. We define our own targets and even if we don’t meet them, frankly speaking no one else bothers. And I think, considering the universe is expanding, we can forgo our puny imperfections and look at the larger picture.