Rohit Mittal on Bollywood and Filmmaking

- Koushal Devabhaktuni , Journal Club



You said that your life always revolved around films. So did you try your hand at other aspects of filmography, for instance, acting?

No, I never did. What I mean by my life revolving around films is that I was always really passionate about films. I didn't really think of getting into films until i was 18 or 19 though. That was when I made my first short film, and by that time, it was only direction and writing. I started with writing because I also wanted to be a novelist but I realised that writing a novel is very difficult and also, I was attracted more to the form of screenwriting.

Which part of filmmaking do you enjoy more? Writing, direction or editing?

Direction. I love being on the set; the rush, all of it.

So you didn't initially think going to a film school was essential but you had to go to one. So how much of filmmaking do you think is an inborn art and how much is a craft that can be learnt?

I think there is a lot of craft to it, which needs to be learnt and at the same time you need to find your own voice as an artist and that can be anything, not necessarily something that talks about an issue but it can be a new cinematic voice, a new artistic voice and maybe while finding your voice, you might discover that you are a painter and not a film-maker; that is the more important thing, discovering yourself.

The netflix revolution and all that is happening in India right now. It seems like weíre moving away from theatrical experiences and towards home-viewing. So are you happy with it or do you think the theatrical experience can't be matched on TV?

Personally, I am happy with this progress towards home viewing. I think it is only a matter of time before everyone has smart-tvs and better sound systems and get personal theatrical prints delivered. I think there will be a lot of bold and radical changes in the near future because of this, especially in terms of censorship.

Do you think in the current scenario it is easier for independent filmmakers to make and release films and establish themselves?

It is definitely easier now because of the digital revolution. We can now make films and edit them on our phones for no cost and still say something nice cinematically. But what is difficult is how to push the format further. More people watch TV shows now which is more of a writerís form. Film is also changing. And that is something we need to think about.

You said that you hate main-stream Bollywood films. But donít you think now, the scene is changing, because an Anurag Kashyap film or a Vikramaditya Motwane film is now considered mainstream. So, donít you think that the envelope of main-stream has expanded to cover a bit more of independent cinema?

No, I think to go mainstream, we need to compromise, to make it more presentable and commercially viable. Infact, I think we are making more mediocre films now than ever before. Because we need to sell the film, and that is not helping anything. So, I think we need to go all the way and make our films. We are supposed to make films with a social message and stuff but I donít think a single film can change anything. If we want change, we need to go out there and make change.

Films in India have always been primarily a source of entertainment. So, do you think that the industry is going to change and provide better funds to independent films, which are probably seen as less interesting. Because you do need good production houses right?

Well, I donít think we will see radical changes in the old guys and the large houses. But now, a large number of people are making independent films, so I feel that we can even overshadow the mainstream movies in time. But I donít think we can look for money from the production houses because they would want their money back and that would involve compromise. So, we have to make movies economically and from our own pockets. It does restrict creativity to some extent but you should think in those limits. It is really difficult to make money with independent cinema. The audience is still not mature enough. Like if we made Gravity, who would watch it. Also, why would the mature audience watch it when they can see the Hollywood film. Also, we need to start showing good films in schools and colleges the way countries like Korea do. If a kid grows up watching David Dhawanís films, he is prone to make Coolie No.1 right?

In two separate interviews, Anurag Kashyap and Siddharth Roy Kapoor said that it is because of the star-studded, big festival releases that smaller/independent movies get funded as that money is recycled into these films. Your comment?

That happened once but studios have stopped funding these movies now as they see no returns in there. Now, due to lack of vision, even large studios like Balaji have shut down movie productions. So, I donít have much of hope of getting funding from any studio.

PC: Department of Photography - BITS HYD