“The difference between me and other filmmakers is that I make movies for myself,” says Sudhir Mishra, director of critically acclaimed films like Chameli, Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi and Khoya Khoya Chand among others. In town for the launch of an acting school, Mishra is as unapologetic and intuitive as his films are. He is known for making edgy movies that more often than not portray strong female characters who can hold their own. We take a look at his multifaceted personality.
Mishra believes the new breed of filmmakers such as Anurag Kashyap, Hansal Mehta and Tigmanshu Dhulia are not here to break away from mainstream cinema but rather stay in it and make a change. “I believe Anurag (Kashyap) is my inspiration; even mainstream production houses and directors are now waking up to intelligent cinema — you see the likes of Karan Johar presenting a film like The Lunchbox,” he states.
When asked what Punjabi directors could do to gain this level of recognition, he says they need to pick more realistic subjects that people can relate to. “In mainstream cinema there is a thirst for ‘real’ stories and it is the audience that will force this change,” he says, further adding, “Someone who I think is underrated as an actor and deserves wider national acclaim for his acting abilities is Gurdas Mann. While I’m not very familiar with Punjabi cinema I believe Shaheed-eMohabbat Boota Singh was an excellent film.”
“Filmmaking is an act of humility and arrogance at the same time,” says Mishra, adding some people are more inclined to follow a formula whereas others are more independent in their thinking. The writer for Kundan Shah’s 1983 cult film Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron, Mishra says that he had no idea the film would become a classic. “I thought we (Kundan Shah and I) were writing nonsense, everyone else thought we were writing nonsense,” he laughs. As for his alleged falling out with actor Chitrangada Singh, claimed to be his muse, he sets the record straight, “If I’m working with Chitrangada constantly people ask why, if I’m not, people still ask why and my muse is cinema as a whole, not one single person”.