First-time director Sanjay Nag was asked to bring his debut film, Memories Of March, to the Chennai Film Festival by Suhasini Mani Ratnam and Mani Ratnam, when he met them in New York a few months ago.
During the fest, organised by Suhasini and Revathy, Sanjay made numerous attempts to get Mani to watch the film. But unfortunately he couldn’t make it to the initial three screenings organised.
On the last day, Sanjay heard Mani was skipping the closing ceremony, to watch the film. “And at exactly five minutes to five, Mani walked in,” says Sanjay, who couldn’t believe that the award-winning director and he were the only two seated in the theatre that accommodated 100 and were watching his directorial debut. “When I asked the theatre for the bill in the end, the owner told me Mani had instructed him not to take money from me.”
Later that evening, when the two met, Mani, who is known to be a man of few words, spared all of 30 minutes to discuss Memories In March with Sanjay. “He told me it didn’t look like a first film,” says the director, who is now acting in a film to be directed by Rituparno Ghosh. “It’s an honourable trade off. First, I direct him, now he directs me,” he adds, in humour.
Though the film didn’t create a buzz in theatres, the screening of Memories Of March in the city saw an assorted group of Bollywood filmmakers turn up; Ketan Mehta, Deepa Mehta, Prakash Jha and Pradeep Sarkar, being a few. “They liked it. Pradeep was almost moved to tears,” reveals Sanjay. The film’s box-office numbers have reported to be not that impressive too.
Girish Wankhede from Cinemax cinemas, affirms that Memories of March just did average business at the box office: “The film did not do that well. People were talking about it, but the occupancy was not so huge in the screens.”