Devashish Makhija’s 11-minute short film on a footloose cop got one million hits in less than a month. Meet the director and author this weekend, as he screens his most acclaimed films.
In 2015, filmmaker Devashish Makhija and actor Manoj Bajpayee were trying to find producers for a feature film about the struggles of a low-rank policeman, but no one was willing to back it. So, they decided to make a short film instead, and show people that such a topic could be compelling as well. It resulted in the 11-minute-long film called Taandav, which clocked over one million views on YouTube in less than a month.
Makhija, who made his directorial debut with the Nandita Das starrer Hindi-Oriya film Oonga, says, “Most actors end their relationship with a film after acting in it. Manoj goes beyond that. But to get his allegiance, you need to prove that you’re good at what you do. We spent a year getting to know one another,” he says.
The director will be screening Taandav on March 5 at The Hive Community Festival, along with his other acclaimed shorts like El’ayichi (2015), Agli Baar (2015) and Rahim Murge Pe Mat Ro (2008), which will be followed by an open discussion with the audience.
Interestingly, Makhija’s original plan was to make commercial feature films but he hit a roadblock: “Masala films didn’t want me anywhere near them. Those that I wrote or was directing either got shelved, never released, or the producers would back out,” says Makhija. After some years of shelved projects, he “took it as a sign”. He went on to make his first short El’ayichi for Terribly Tiny Talkies (TTT), a storytelling collective, and the rest followed. “I had no idea that following my heart would pay dividends; not monetary, but emotional dividends. I feel proud of the work I’ve done in the last few years. So, there are no more plans of making a commercial masala film. That boat has firmly sailed,” he says.
The St Xavier’s College graduate is also an author. He has penned Forgetting (2014), a book of 49 short stories and written micro-fiction (tales written in 140 characters) for Terribly Tiny Tales, an online platform for flash fiction. “It really helped me chisel my stories into smaller and smaller forms,” he says.
He has also written children’s books such as When Ali Became Bajrangbali (2011) and Why Paploo Was Perplexed (2011), that are a part of CBSE students’s (between the age group of six to 10) required reading. Makhija admits that the books were the outcome of his struggling days. Since a feature takes anything from two to five years to make, he realised that there was a possibility all his stories wouldn’t convert into films. “Struggling filmmakers were waiting, pinning their hopes on that first film to get made, after which they’d make another, then another. But I wasn’t ready to take my stories to the grave. So I kept dabbling in other forms of expression,” he shares.
Makhija is doing the rounds of producers’ and directors’ offices with four feature film scripts currently and has two to three short film scripts ready as well. “If someone had told me then that it would take me over a decade to get my stories out there, I might have taken the first train back to Kolkata (his hometown). Thank god, no one gave me that reality check. My blinders kept me running. I still am,” he says.
Shorts to be screened
RAHIM MURGE PE MAT RO: An autobiography of a rooster and his death, recounted by him from beyond the grave.
EL’AYICHI: A tale about a clingy wife (Nimrat Kaur), an irritating husband (Divyendu Sharma) and love beyond an ‘expiry date’.
AGLI BAAR: A story about how slum dwellers manage to stall the illegal demolition of their shanties.
TAANDAV: Head constable Tambe (Manoj Bajpayee) isn’t having the best of times at work or at home and to deal with his troubles, he breaks into a dance.
Catch the director talk about his short films and screen four shorts at Spotlight with Devashish Makhija, on March 5, 5pm.
Where: The Hive, Huma Mansion, Chuim Village Road, off Union Park, Khar (W)
Call: 096199 62969
Tickets: Rs 150 on bookmyshow.com