Tag Archives: India

#4 Learning from the experts – Nishtha Jain

For those of you who are not familiar with one of the prime candidates for the best documentary film makers of India, Nishtha Jain; she is a former student of Film and Television Institute of India (FTII). She has directed critically acclaimed films such as At My Doorstep, Lakshmi and Me, 6 Yards to Democracy etc. Along with Smriti Nevatia, the duo runs an independent documentary film company named Raintree Films.

I had the privilege of meeting Nishtha Jain at a film screening of Gulabi Gang in Mumbai. Here are a few points I noted as she interacted with us!

Nishtha Jain with Sampat Pal (the real leader of Gulabi Gang)

1. Making a documentary is an unpredictable job. You will never get what you wished for but you will certainly be rewarded for your patience. But Nishtha Jain believes in having everything in writing. No matter what, having a blueprint of your day will help you in deciding how to lead your crew.

2. Others might think otherwise, but making a documentary rather than anything else requires time. The crew spent five months with Gulabi Gang to produce this 96 minute marvel.

3. (I strongly contradict the following point) Nishtha does not believe in giving a direction so as to conveniently reach a desired climax. She believes it is essential to be neutral and non judgmental as a documentary film maker while conceiving a documentary.

4. People in the villages were casual with the camera. Being camera conscious is more of an urban-middle-class obsession. For the villagers, it was more threatening that Sampat Pal was about to interfere in the matter. And they focused on the boom pole; stared at it aimlessly. That worked just fine for the sound.

5. Most of the flow was decided on the edit table. It will not be wrong to say that documentaries are written on the edit table. (The film is edited by Arjun Gourisaria. This amazing documentary won its well deserved recognition for Best Non-Feature Film editing at the 61st National Film Awards. Nishtha was an essential part of the actual edit team as well)

6. You need to be a rebel. Being safe all the time will not get you a good sunset shot. Having said that, nobody appreciates a dead filmmaker with a half baked documentary. So, that!


The screening of Gulabi Gang was followed by a screening of the film Yellow. Although I enjoy fiction more, because of the ridicule Yellow produced in me, it heightened my experience of Gulabi Gang. Overall, it was a colourful evening.


The film Gulabi Gang was completed (shot) in 2010, first screened in Dubai at the Dubai International Film Festival in 2012 and later in India in 2014. It is based on a women activist group in Bundelkhand, UP. It was distributed by Recyclewala Labs. The same guys who brought you Ship of Theseus which is available for a legal free download over here (at least in India).

If interested, do not miss the trailer of Gulabi Gang over here!

#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