At 23, Adhiraj Bose directed Naseeruddin Shah for his first short film, Interior Cafe — Night. Two years later, it found popularity on the web. With much gusto, he says he was “not intimidated” by the veteran actor.
In 2014, before first-time director Adhiraj Bose sent his short film, Interior Café — Night, to festivals, he had shown one of the final drafts to a bunch of people he considers to be his sounding boards. In fact, that is how I chanced upon the film a couple of years back. It was impressive to see a 23-year-old direct veteran actor Naseeruddin Shah and Shernaz Patel in his debut project.
In Interior Café – Night (starring Naseeruddin Shah, Shernaz Patel, Naveen Kasturia and Shweta Basu Prasad), two old lovers reunite, and we see their story unfold in a series of flashbacks.
Two years later, with 25 film festivals and six prizes (including the Second Place in Best Drama Short at Highway 61 Film Festival, Minnesota and Best Short Film (Jury Choice Award) at Mumbai Women’s International Film Festival) to its name, the movie has passed what seems like the litmus test of success in today’s digital age — it has found fame on the web.
A mass-media graduate with no footing in the industry (Bose’s father is a banker; his mother was a teacher and now a homemake), Bose took the most obvious steps towards film-making – he enrolled himself for a few short courses on screenwriting and editing. Post that, he assisted director Abhishek Chaubey on Ek Thi Daayan (2013). But unlike most directors, who keep assisting on multiple projects before helming their own, Bose took the plunge early.
“I realised one film as an AD was enough to know what happens behind the scenes. So, after ETD, I immediately started work on my script. Of course, when the script for Talvar (2015) came to me a year later, I knew I had to work on the film because of the story and the people associated with it. But it was the last chapter of my assisting days,” says Bose.
The same conviction is evident when he says that he was not the least bit intimidated to direct Shah and Patel in his first solo project behind the camera. “This question keeps coming up. But to quote Naseeruddin Shah, ‘One is intimidated or scared only when he is unsure or unprepared.’ Once both of them had agreed to do the project, we knew we had to fine-tune everything. Just getting them on board was not the achievement we were looking for,” says the 25-year-old. Bose has also worked with Shah on some of his Motley productions, including the recent production, Einstein (2014).
A two-year itch
However, what begs the question is the two-year wait to make the film public. Lack of funding, or support, perhaps? Bose insists it was nothing but a well-thought-out decision. “We sent it to as many festivals as possible, and that took over a year and a half. Besides, there was hardly any market for short films in 2014. Today, critics are even reviewing shorts. It’s a good time,” he says, adding that film-maker Anurag Kashyap’s That Day After Every Day and Radhika Apte’s Ahalya, proved to be the game changers for shorts.
Some of Bose’s confidence comes from his experience directing ad films, and shorts for other productions. His work includes a short for Terribly Tiny Talkies - That Last Day (2015), videos for All India Bakc**d’s (AIB) — Creep Qawwali and Unoffended — and TVCs for Asian Paints and L’Oréal. And since he is mostly busy working on his scripts, working on an occasional ad film, he says, takes him back to the sets and keeps him in touch with the chaos.
However, Bose admits to being lucky at times. Bose was aware that director Bejoy Nambiar lived in the same building as he did, and once ran into Nambiar in the elevator. “I saw him with a couple of others from the film fraternity. We exchanged pleasantries, and one of his colleagues talked about Interior Café – Night.He then asked Bejoy to watch it. Bejoy in turn told me to get the film to his apartment and asked if I was open to writing for films.”
And, just like that, Bose landed his next big project — writing the screenplay and dialogue for Nambiar’s next, the Hindi remake of Mani Ratnam’s Agni Nachathiram (1988).