In Their Shoes, Atul Sabharwal’s documentary on the leather industry of Agra, is making all the right noises. Atul reveals the idea which prompted him to go ahead with this documentary.
“I realised that my father was slowly nudging me out of the family business. The same was happening to my brother as well. My father is a man with a great foresight and he wasn’t happy with the current situation of the family business. He had this idea that it’s going to be a bad phase in future. When I assessed the entire situation, I came to the conclusion that there are certain issues which need the government’s attention,” says Sabharwal.
Sabharwal had already made a mega TV show Powder before directing the Arjun Kapoor-starrer Aurangzeb in 2013, but then he decided to trace his roots.
“See, Aurangzeb was the stepping stone in my career as a filmmaker. That happened and thus after it I decided to go with this documentary because it was also a quest to find answers to some personal questions.”
He further says, “I had some money saved from my fee as director from Aurangzeb. I invested that in 'In Their Shoes'. I also did some writing assignments. The film was shot in 2013, so it kind of developed brick by brick. Also, the studio was very supportive. I made the film first. I got the first voices first and then later supported them with research during editing.”
There are hardly any filmmakers in Bollywood who go to documentaries after making a hardcore mainstream commercial film. Clearly, Sabharwal is not one of them. “The commerce of Hindi films is different, and making films just for the sake of making it was never my criteria. In my opinion, such constraints should never stop a filmmaker from doing a film of his or her choice.”
Agra is an integral part of In Their Shoes. Atul says, “Agra is very important in the film. Similarly, Mumbai was central in Powder and Delhi-NCR, in Aurangzeb. I was born and brought up in Agra, so it had to bear an impression on the film. There was a strong emotional connect as well.”
“Agra needs the government’s attention. Our shoe industry is getting killed due to the dumping of Chinese goods. It’s time to act to rebuild the age-old industry, especially when our honourable PM has announced the Make In India campaign,” adds Sabharwal.
(Interact with Rohit Vats at Twitter/@nawabjha)