Meeting filmmaker Ketan Mehta

“A single conversation with a wise man is better than ten years of study.”- This quote can actually sum up my brief meeting with filmmaker Ketan Mehta today. During a one-on-one conversation with budding short filmmakers and actors of Vadodara, the director of the National award-winning films like Bhavni Bhavai (1980) and Sardar (1993), and other critically acclaimed films like Mirch Masala (1985), Maya Memsaab (1992), and Mangal Pandey (2005).

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“We did everything that wasn’t allowed in the campus during our course at FTII while making the film,” he said while sharing his experiences on making the film film, Holi (1984), which was set completely in the campus of Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Pune. It starred Aamir Khan (his first film wasn’t Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak, but this one), Om Puri, Naseeruddin Shah, Raj Zutshi, Deepti Naval, and Asutosh Gowarikar, who according to Ketan Mehta were randomly picked up, without much thinking.

The best takeaway that one could thank for this brief session was the line, “Filmmaking is all about self-expression and celebrating the grandeur of your idea. The joy of watching your film together in a packed theatre and noticing their reaction, be it laughter, sobs, contempt or awe is something that can never be described, for it can only be understood by someone who makes a film and watches it with the audience.

Hence, no matter how advanced the technology may become, the joy of watching films in a theatre will always remain unique, hence the independent filmmakers must not shy away from aspiring for a theatre release of their films, the ‘10000 likes’ and ‘1000’ shares notwithstanding.”

The discussion was so enlightening and inspiring that few of us short filmmakers (can we call ourselves just storytellers rather than such descriptions?) like Harshvardhan Singh, Rituraj Mistry, and yours truly ended up discussing films for almost an hour without realizing it. That’s what filmmaking is all about: Passion.  Thank you sir, for sharing insights on independent filmmaking and making us realize the importance of filmmaking and sharing our stories in a dark hall – something that we often take for granted. Not anymore. Thanks Apsara Iyengar for the invitation.

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