By Arundhuti Banerjee
Mumbai, Oct 23 (IANS) In his debut film “Just Like That”, Kislay has weaved a story with multiple layers. The film is centred on an elderly widow who loves to live her life on her own terms instead of submitting herself to societal norms. While the socio-political change and the rise of right-wing politics also comes as an element in his narrative, the debutant filmmaker says that his film is a slice of his concern and opinion, rather than an agent of social responsibility.
After the screening of his film in the India Gold category at Jio MAMI 21st Mumbai Film Festival with Star, Kislay told IANS : “When I make a film, it comes from my concern. When a change is taking place in society, if it concerns me, I make a film on that rather than make a film as an act of social responsibility. My film is a reflection of my belief, my opinion, but it has more to do with my concern than ‘social responsibility’.”
He added: “There are lots of things happening around us but not every happening intrigues me to write a script. A thing that grows in me and stays with me, drives me to write about it. Writing is the first step towards making a film.”
The film was also screened at Busan International Film Festival.
Being the alumnus of FTII, Pune, Kislay made three independent short films before making his first feature.
Asked about the challenge he faced as a first-time director, Kislay said: “I actually had a lot of advantage rather than challenge because it was my debut film. I have a lot of freedom and no pressure to make it commercially successful. I had a lot of time to write and imagine the story the way I wanted to execute it. So, I was enjoying the process of making the film. Of course, I was working with a great team of enthusiastic people and that is why there was an expectation from people to like and appreciate our effort. Keeping that aside, I had no pressure, and that is why I managed to make the film exactly the way I wanted it to be.”
“Just Like That” features Mohini Sharma, Harish Sharma, Sadhna Singh, Shivam Sharma, Trimala Adhikari.
The story revolves around a middle-aged woman and, according to the director, he made the conscious choice of not casting any overtly popular face so that his protagonist remained relatable.
“Casting the central character was surely a task because Mrs Sharma holds the film. I was looking for an actress who could perform the whole emotional curve and yet not be hugely famous so as to take away the relatability. I wanted to cast a great actress, who is not so famous. I wanted a face, which we see in our family. So, yes, finding Mohini Sharma was a task for our casting team,” he said.
The film addresses the change that the city od Prayagraj has gone through. Considering the fact that Kislay himself hails from the city, how did he react when the city’s original name, Allahabad, was changed to Prayagraj?
“That is emotional anger, because it is almost like someone from outside forcing me to call someone ‘X’, although I have been calling him ‘Y’ for ages. It made me feel sad that one day someone comes and, without asking us, changes the name of the city — my city. For people like us, it will still remain Allahabad, but we all know that the coming generation will be introduced to the city with its new name. This is sad, but it is the reality,” he said.
His debut film has been receiving positive response from critics and movie buff at the festival. What kind of film does Kislay plan to make in near future?
“I want to tell stories that come from my observation of the mundane life that we live. I want to treat life in a mundane way even on-screen. That is real for me. So, my characters and narratives will be real. Having said that, I think I am just starting my journey and it is just my first film. So, I have so much to explore,” replied the young filmmaker.
(Arundhuti Banerjee can be contacted at [email protected])