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Interview with Kundan Shah
Date: July 13, 2007, Hyderabad
Kundan Shah

Kundan Shah who made critically acclaimed films like Jane Bhi Do Yaaro (Nasiruddin Shah) and Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa (Shahrukh Khan) is a Pune Film Institute graduate. He visited Hyderabad to attend the Chitra Yatra film festival. caught up with this 59-year-old creative director for an exclusive interview. Here are the excerpts -

How did you get into movie line?
I am basically a Mumbai-based Gujarathi. And as we had no playgrounds in our place and only source of entertainment was just movies in 60's. As a child I grew up watching films. I developed an inclination to read pulp fiction in my college days. After completion of my college, I felt restless, though I worked in a publishing house for four years. Still, a sort of dissatisfaction used to haunt me. That is when I decided to shift to movies and applied for Pune Film Institute and got admission. I invested all my 4-years savings into the course and completed it. The term fee used to Rs. 200/- in 1973. I was out of job for three years after completion of my film course. Then I joined as an assistant director for 3 films. All these 3 films featured my college friend from film institute Nasiruddin Shah. We share a terrific rapport and he came forward to work with me for my debut film Jane Bhi Do Yaaro. And it clicked. I would like to give major credit of my success to Nasiruddin Shah who also gave birth to many talented filmmakers..

How helpful is it to study in a film school for a person aspiring to be a film director?
The talent to direct films should be inborn. Film schools only equip you with the methods of filmmaking and hone your skills. Films schools will put you at par with world's best directors. I also feel that you need not assist anybody to learn filmmaking. You should assist somebody, if you want to learn about logistics and production aspects.

What is your take on art and commercial films?
Economics and popularity are the aspects that differentiates an art film from a commercial film. Movie is a form of art. And no art can progress without experiments. Hence it is very important to make experimental films though they commercially fail many a time. It is irony that the budget of a commercial disaster Salaam E Ishq is equivalent to the budget of all NFDC films produced so far in collaboration with most of the classic directors whom we can call as our national heritage.

Which one is your personal favorite among the films you made?
Jane Bhi Do Yaaro made my career.

Who influenced the most of your work?
Dario Fo. He was a Nobel winning literate from Italy. He writes slapstick comedy with social message encrypted in it. I also get influenced a lot by reading newspapers.

What is your opinion on Chitra Yatra film festival?
It amazes me when I look at the range of films that are being selected for this film festival. They put fantastic thought into it. I watched 'money call' around 20 years back for a couple of times. Since then I wanted to watch that film and now I found it in this film festival. I also find 'Rules of the game' and 'Chinese Roulette' films to be fascinating. Chitra Yatra also includes documentaries which is excellent. Vidhu Vinod Chopra's Oscar nominated documentary 'An encounter with faces' is also documented.

How to attract common people to film festivals?
Films festivals need to be promoted more aggressively by the media. TV shows featuring clips and discussions about art films followed by screening in film festivals might help.

What is your next project?
It is going to be a political satire with fresh faces.

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