Dreams, desires & destiny

Debarati Singh Palit
Friday, 9 June 2017

National Award-winning filmmaker Onir’s forthcoming film Shab talks about how living in big cities changes a person

Onir’s films are not only realistic but hard-hitting too. His latest movie, Shab is no different. The Raveena Tandon, Arpita Chatterjee and Ashish Bisht-starrer, is a take on urban relationships. The film releasing on June 30, will see Onir returning to direction after five years. Produced by Sanjay Suri, Onir, Bhavna Talwar and Mohan T Mulani, Shab had its world premiere at the recently held New York Indian Film Festival.

Onir, who has made critically acclaimed films like My Brother...Nikhil, Bas Ek Pal, Sorry Bhai! And I AM, says that Shab is a relatable film.
Here’s more from the director:  

The impression about Shab is that the story is inspired by the fashion industry.
The fashion world is a small backdrop in the story. The story primarily is not about the fashion industry, but about relationships. One of my characters played by Arpita has nothing to do with fashion. The plot begins with that industry and goes much deeper as the story progresses. In fact, I could have taken some other industry as a backdrop.

The story talks about dreams, desires and destiny. It’s about a young boy from a small town, whose life changes when he shifts to Delhi, and consequently affects the life of three other characters too. I wanted to show how big cities and ambitions change us as person.

It is not a niche subject; people will be able to relate to it. I had written the story when I had just come to Mumbai. People from small cities come here with dreams and they are, therefore, running after their ambitions. The city makes us lonely and that’s quite relatable.

You wrote the script some 15 years ago. What took you so long to make the film?
I had written the script 17 years ago; in fact, Shab was the first script that I had written. But the subject was too bold to be made back then. As I grew as a person with each film, the script became bolder and bolder. But in 2014, I thought to myself, ‘enough of waiting I have to make the film now.’ It took me a year to shoot the film because the story depicts the different seasons in a year. I had to wait to shoot a particular part in a particular season.    

In Shab, you are collaborating with Sanjay Suri and Raveena with whom you have been working for many years. In Bollywood, where relationships constantly change, how do you maintain them?  
People matter to me more than films. In fact, my films are about relationships. I cherish each and every relationship in my life. It could be with my crew members or friends. My work becomes the starting point of all my friendships.

I AM released in 2011. Why did you take such a long break between the two directorials?
I think it was a conscious decision because I wanted to get into producing films. I have learnt certain things through this journey and I wanted to use that. You give much more time and energy while producing because you are adopting someone else’s baby.  In between, I produced and released Chauranga. I missed direction and henceforth, I am not going to take such long gaps (smiles).
The kind of realistic films you shoot makes it tough to find a producer and a theatrical release. The audience too does not want to watch such films. What’s your take?  
Yes, it’s very difficult. But I think the challenge makes it exciting. And more than the audience, it’s to do with the distribution and exhibition. Indie films do get support but it’s different kind of economics. For example, a big film like Jagga Jasoos would get a budget of 100 crores but not us.

Getting the correct shows is a challenge. In case of indie films, word-of-mouth publicity works because we do not have the money to promote it on TV and print as it costs a lot. More than making the film, the cost of marketing and the rest is much more.

Do you ever desire to take a break from dark and realistic films and make feel-good movies?
Firstly, Shab is not a dark film. It has several light moments. When the film ends, some of characters do send out the message of hope. Coming to your question, my next film — Kuch Bhi Hai Alfaz, is a romantic film. I feel as a filmmaker, I need to experiment if I want to grow. But I have limitations too, as I can’t do an action, superhero or a comedy flick.





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