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Not a formula man

Making his own rules Sandeep Mohan Photo: Special Arrangement

Making his own rules Sandeep Mohan Photo: Special Arrangement  

Filmmaker Sandeep Mohan tells PARSHATHY J. NATH that all he wants to do is make independent cinema which resonates with ordinary people

Next time you are in a café, keep your voice down. If there is tall man with a scribbling pad and an amused expression, he is probably listening to every word you are saying. He is interested in stories about you and me, our relationships and problems at work. Sandeep Mohan, who is coming out with his fourth film, Shreelancer, says he gets all his ideas from these informal addas.

“There is something about coffee that makes people open up. The conversations are so entertaining, even better than watching a film! You realise people are leading such interesting lives.”

Like his previous film, Hola Venky, which was about a confused middle-aged man who did not know how to react to independent women, this is one too is about an urban matter. The film tries to understand the journey of a freelancer called Shreepadh, a guy in his mid-20s. “Twenties is when you are trying to cope with your life. You are in the cusp of breaking out from youth and entering adulthood. Your friends around you are getting hitched and you are trying to settle down with a stable job. It was nice to go back to that time,” reflects the filmmaker.

Sandeep introduced the concept of the Great Indian Travelling Cinema, where he tavelled with his films to different parts of the country and showcase them in cafés, corporate spaces and at other alternative spaces. “The idea is to keep the buzz going. I am also planning a small theatre release this time. And, after that I will try to sell it to Netflix or Amazon.”

The 98-minute-long Shreelancer will have Sandeep’s trademark humour. This time, he says, it is more of situational humour and adds it was an exhausting affair. It involved a lot of public transport, bikes and taxis, he says.

In this film, Sandeep is working with five or six producers. This way, the pressure on each is much less, he explains.

“That lets me enjoy my creative freedom. They are not breathing down my neck either and I don’t have to be answerable to them.”

Sandeep has dodged the conventional festival circuits. In his online post, he said watching some of the great films de-motivated him at times. “For me, life is good enough to draw inspiration from. I do not want a film festival crowd to watch my films. I make it for the normal people.”

However, he does have favourite filmmakers such as Woody Allen and Alexander Payne.

He is quite sure that he does not fall into the league of the film festival crowd or want to be that “genius filmmaker” celebrated by the world. “I prefer to lead a normal life like any other guy, playing his badminton and once in a while making films of my kind. I want to make sensible cinema which is relatable.” Nevertheless, the festival circuits are interested in him. He has been invited by Film Bazaar at International Film Festival of Goa, to talk about the new trends in filmmaking and alternative models of film distribution for the “knowledge series” workshops. He also plans to send the film to a few festivals. “I will travel around so that there will be a good buzz around the film. I will try to release it in a multiplex. If possible, I will try alternative spaces such as offices, conference halls or even art galleries. And, then there are the co-working spaces, areas dedicated for freelancers to work. I do not mind screening my film anywhere with a screen. These unconventional spaces are lot more personal and intimate. This helps me interact with my audience as well.”

Shreelancer had its screening in New York early this month, at a residence with an intimate crowd of 20 professionals. “They constituted my friends. I listened to their feedback so that I could make a few last-minute changes.”

Making cinema is an inner journey for him. “I make films when I am in doubt about myself, when I feel I am not good enough. It helps me understand myself better. And, only independent cinema lets you be. You can use your own voice. My movie is my voice. I am not bound by any formula. My stories are personal and drawn from my own experience.”

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Printable version | Feb 18, 2020 12:06:35 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/Not-a-formula-man/article16441742.ece

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