Cinema

Meeting with a legend

Grizzly Man

Grizzly Man  

While at the Sundance Film Festival, I got the opportunity to meet one of my childhood heroes, the legendary German filmmaker Werner Herzog

I am currently at the Sundance Film Festival, as part of the team for Brahman Naman, a film that I wrote and am an executive producer of. The film is one of 12 chosen in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition at the festival. A global A-list festival is always an opportunity to meet legends of world cinema, if one can get into those screenings and past the security cordon that is, and Sundance is no different.

Being something of a tech geek, I was desperate to watch the documentary Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World (2016), a meditation on the internet, artificial intelligence, robotics and many such topics. I was shattered when I couldn’t get tickets for it, especially since it is directed by one of my childhood heroes, the legendary German filmmaker Werner Herzog.

On the morning of the Brahman Naman world premiere at Sundance, we were at the Los Angeles Times booth getting a photo shoot done for the newspaper, when an avuncular head peered his head round the door. It looked just like Herzog. And it was indeed. All thoughts of the photo shoot forgotten, we rushed outside. He was with a couple of his team members and was warm and accessible. Q, the director of Brahman Naman, told him that he’s originally from Calcutta and Herzog immediately waxed eloquent about the cinema of Satyajit Ray, especially Mahanagar (1963). He was also fulsome in his praise for the film’s leading lady Madhabi Mukherjee.

When it was my turn to chat with the master, he said that he’d been talking to a young lady outside, and told her that she was likely to find a life mate in one of the men in the room. To which she coolly replied that she had already found one, pointing to me. The pure comedy of this situation was too much for us, and all of us cracked up. Between guffaws, he gave us some sage marital advice — pay frequent attention to your partner and make him/her feel important every day of their lives.

During our conversation, I also told him how influential his films Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972) and Fitzcarraldo (1982) were on me in my formative years, and that I’d seen them more than 40 times each. He deflected my praise gently, saying that he was a young man then. We also talked to him about his more recent work, which has been largely in documentaries. Herzog’s Grizzly Man (2005), an account of grizzly bear activists Timothy Treadwell and Amie Huguenard, who were killed in October 2003 while living among grizzlies in Alaska, had made a profound impression on us and he was pleased to hear this.

Sadly, thanks to prior commitments, Herzog could not attend the world premiere of Brahman Naman, but he instructed us on how we could get the Blu-ray across to his brother in Vienna and he would watch it for sure. The 73-year-old master’s parting words were hugely encouraging: “You boys are going to take over the world.”

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Printable version | Apr 8, 2020 4:24:32 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/Meeting-with-a-legend/article14028674.ece

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