An interview

I did this interview for the Times of India in Hyderabad. Not sure if they carried it, so just posted it here. I do hope they don’t mind. BUt it has been with them for over a week …


“1) In a recent interview, you mentioned that you think the genre of films that we know today might become extinct as it makes way for a “blended media approach” that will be more interactive. Do you see yourself taking the pioneering steps in that direction?”
I do hope so. After Golden Age I plan to come back to India and promote the idea of an integrated media approach. What do I mean by integrated media ? It is the new way of infotainment experience where the viewer is an active participant in the continuing experience of entertainment or information. It does not end, for example, when you walk out of a cinema theatre, but you carry on experiencing at your will through (for example) your mobile device, and also alter the experience to your own personality.
And why India ? Not only because I am Indian, but also I believe this is where the greatest talent lies. Also where the greatest desire to be active participants in entertainment and infotainment exists.
” 2) What inspired you to make a movie about the lesser discussed life of Buddha? Have you decided on the casting of the film yet ?”
Mostly a desire to explore my myself. The concepts of our sense of individuality, or the non existence of it, as contained in Buddhism, are now fundamental to my exploration of myself. Buddha’s story, and his exploration of what desire means, and how to go beyond it, are so necessary in modern day society
“3) Is Pani going to serve as a sort of a wake up call? Or is it just Sci-fi – meant to inspire thought and entertain? If it’s the former, then how would you benchmark the success of the movie?”
It would be silly of me to say that I would spend $ 25 million of other people’s money and not be concerned about giving them the absolute possibilities of a substantial return on it. I do hope that Paani will be India’s Crouching Tiger, which effectively put Chinese cinema on the map of international mainstream cinema. While so much noise is being made about Bollywood world wide, there is little product we are making that could appeal internationally. It could all fizzle out as hype if we are not careful.
What we need to do is tell stories that touch the psyche of audiences world wide. Water is such an issue. Water shortages affect almost 95% of the world’s population now, and is one of the most immediate envioromental disasters that is already upon us. Ask any Indian.
So in that sense we don’t need a wake up call. We know Water is a huge problem. What my film deals with is when the breaking point has arrived. When the Water Wars break out. When there is a division in society between those that can afford Water and those that cannot, ad when Water becomes a weapon of economic and political control. It is the macro effect of the breaking point,
Of course, the film is couched in the most passionate love story I have ever told.

4) Talk to us about Golden Age. Are there any Oscar aspirations for the sequel to Elizabeth? Is there
pressure to replicate that kind of critical acclaim?

I don’t like the pressure of Oscars. Or anything else. No film is an end game in itself. It is a continuing process of exploration of that which most reverberates in yourself. And the assumption is that what reverberates in you is fundamentally what is going on the subconscious of your audience as well. For that reason it is really important for me, as a communicator, to be continually sensitive to everything around myself. To be open to all stimuli. To not protect yourself at all, but to be sensitive to everything around you, whatever the emotional cost of that might be.
So how does the story of Golden Age relate to my life ? It is the search for the Divine. It is our struggle between our mortal, human, earthed self, and the need to break that tie and experience interconnectedness as the Elizabethans put it, or Formlessness as the Buddhists put it. It is also about the struggle between fundamentalism and tolerance, as portrayed in the battle between Phillip of Spain and Elizabeth. A battle that ended in Phillip setting out one of the biggest maritime expeditions ever, the Spanish Armada.
>
> 5) What motivates you to blog? Does that serve as a
> platform for connect with the people you want to
> reach out to with your movies or is it just about
> expression and being heard? Do you think blogosphere
> is a space where world opinions can be shaped on a
> mass scale soon? Will it replace editorials in
> newspapers, or at any rate make them less relevant.
I think Blogging is the greatest revolution of our times. So far we are just seeing the periphery. It is the ultimate democratic way of making your voice heard. It is finally freedom of expression as guaranteed by our constitution. For what use is freedom of expression of you have no way for your to have your voice heard ? Other than through a media controlled by vested interests ?
Where will be blogging go ? Live streaming Blog Radio, broadcast over the Internet by any one individual. Live streaming Blog TV, broadcast not by a huge corporate entity, but by individuals.
I find blogging fascinating. I can relate to the rest of the world directly on a far more interactive way. I have my own website at shekharkapur.com , and contribute to a more community blog along with Deepak Chopra at intentblog.com
>
> 6) You left behind a career as a chartered
> accountant to follow your heart. Do you miss that?
> Have you ever had moments where you wondered why you
> made the switch?
Oh well, regrets and doubt is part of the human experience. Which one of us has not dreamt about rewinding life an not making the same mistakes again ? But would I go back to being a chartered accountant ? I doubt it. But I would change a lot else, if it all was possible !
>
> 7) Why did Hollywood call? Was there something that
> Bollywood wasn’t offering or was it just a quest for
> a bigger proverbial well?
Hollywood was a a dream, yes. But it was something that I gravitated towards naturally as part of the exploration of the adventure of life. It was another adventure, and now I am looking for the next one.
>
> 8) Your wife has had two painting exhibitions. Did
> you always know there was a painter in her or is
> that something you both unraveled together?
Suchitra’s paintings, her passion, her courage in being able to face a blank canvass, and her talent stunned me. Rarely have I had the privilege to witness the spurt of such raw and passionate talent in such short a time.
9) Does work eat into family time sometimes?
Of course.
10) If you had to write a book, what would you write
on?

I don’t think I will ever be able to finish the book, as I would wake up everyday with a new experience. A new thought. A new ending. I only end a film because I am aware of the immense cost of it.
shekhar

14 Responses to “An interview”

  1. Cinda says:

    Thank you for sharing this interview Shekhar.
    “But I would change a lot else, if it all was possible !”…
    Curious as to some of the things you might change had you the opportunity to go back in time.
    Cinda

  2. tushar says:

    dear shekhar,
    as always, u sound like a visionary who knows the future.
    with due apologies, i am reposting some stuff i posted in the golden age diary section the other day… under the ‘to allow organic growth of the film’ header…
    the more i think and hear about indian media and entertainment scenario, the more i feel overwhelmed. there is a huge market agreed. there are a lot of people eyeing it, agreed. it will over power the western market-share real soon, absolutely. but i would really to know what u feel is the right approach for me and others like me, who are aiming to cater to this ever-evolving media… hence this reposting …
    i realize that u must be really tied-up with golden age.. but please share ur thoughts whenever u get some time…
    * reposted message begins *
    watched u speak on hardtalk extra yesterday. ur conviction is rock-solid and ur understated confidence is electric.
    i too share the belief belief in the potential of eastern-influence on the future of global media and entertainment. i am sure u feel the vibes when u visit india (especially indian metros)… the atmosphere is charged and there is a sense of imminent revolution…
    however, one part of me feels that all the buzz and all the excitement is not going to be enuff… unless the vast chasm between india (living in the few cities) and bharat (rest of india, like the place i come from) is bridged. i believe that only media has the power to bridge this chasm and i get frustrated at the superficial, downright dumbing down of indian media…
    i believe that the major portion of the future potential that we so believe in lies with bharat. unless bharat becomes part of the shining india… the huge potential will be just theoretical…
    and this applies to rest of the eastern hemisphere as well. the disparity between the globalized and the marginalized is a huge cause of concern for me as a… for lack of any other appropriate word…future entertainment product designer… be it writing books, graphic novels or making films, conceiving games…
    one day i am talking to ashutosh (gowariker) who is so doing what i feel is the right thing… an evolved thinker… and the next day, i am interning with the writer / director of the film that earned 70 crores at the box office last year… ashu’s work barely breaks even in commercial terms… and the other dude smashes the ‘road-barrier’. his solution is to offer an escape from the issues that plague the very people who make it possible for him to get his 2 crore per film… amusingly, both come from the same background. one from a middle class maharashtrian family and the other from mohammedali road…
    as of now, i am trying to learn the tricks of the commercial side… going against my conviction just to understand the working of the ‘escapist’ side of entertainment… but i never feel at home this side of the court…
    i know these are two sides of my own dichotomous persona… the internal contradiction of being an indian from bharat… i am trying to merge these two into an organic whole…
    and i believe, i have an even higher goal to attain – to evolve from ‘an indian from bharat’ into a ‘rooted global citizen’… how do i do this?
    did u / do u ever feel this dichotomy? how do u make sense of this…?
    * reposted message ends *

  3. shekhar says:

    tushar, please remind me to post an answer to the question u have raised, as I am sure other people will be inetrested, shekhar

  4. Heather says:

    Dear Shekhar
    I’m glad you’re planning to address this issue: “While so much noise is being made about Bollywood world wide, there is little product we are making that could appeal internationally.”
    There is such a gulf between the cultures of India and the west — each needs to be educated to the other. When I watch Paheli, I still see it as entertainment, not as a statement about women’s rights. Historical complexities inform Indian cinema very deeply. These don’t exist to the same degree outside India. These aspects of Indian film need to be made more apparent to those outside India, for Indian film to be understood correctly — just for a start.
    love, Heather

  5. jammy says:

    Tushar,
    While I am sure…Shekar will give you a reply Let me also throw in my two bits in the ring.
    Yes I also “believe that only media has the power to bridge this chasm” and that is why I encourage the reality based movies which have made it to the market. People like you and me (for now the Urbanites…and soon enough those in the rural area) have started appreciating realistic movies. It is not just the movies whre this is happening…people now want to know what is real. Enough of the fantasy World where the Amitabh’s could tackle Amjad Khan single-handedly!

  6. David Yuhas says:

    Dear Mr. Kapur,
    My greetings from Boulder, Colorado, USA.
    Your “Elizabeth”, which I have seen innumerable times, is one of my all-time favorite films.
    I have written a slender, 64 page book entitled “The Shakespeare-Cervantes Code” which, in my opinion, is easily the best book on either writer. I have been thinking about turning it into a movie, & I wonder if you would be interested in having a look at it? The following is the Preface.
    Best regards, David Yuhas
    PREFACE
    “Don Quixote & Sancho Panza”…”Hamlet & Horatio”…”Lord Berowne & Adriano de Armado” in “Love’s Labors Lost”…”Prospero & Adrian” in “The Tempest”…it’s always the same two…Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford, 1548-1604…& Michael de Cervantes, 1547-1616.
    In “Othello”, “Michael Cassio” is a composite of Michael de Cervantes & the Duke of Parma, Alessandro Farnese…while “Roderigo” is a composite of de Vere & Rodrigo de Cervantes, the brother of Michael who was killed in Flanders in 1580. Rodrigo, moreover, appears as “Marcellus” in “Hamlet”, after “Claudius Marcellus, the conqueror of Syracuse who defeated Hannibal at Nola”.(Cassels) The connection between Carthage & Protestant Europe will be explained presently.
    Don John of Austria, in this Anglo-Spanish world, is never far away. John is “Othello” in “Othello”, “Fortinbras” in “Hamlet” & “Quijada” in “Don Quixote”. In “A Comedy of Errors” de Vere & Don John respectively, are “Antipholous of Ephesus” & “Antipholous of Syracuse”. “Ephesus” in Shakespeare, is always London after “Diana of Ephesus”. “Diana” is always Elizaberth I.
    Cervantes, at one time or another, a lieutenant of both Don John & de Vere, is “Dromio”.
    The haughty de Vere, who was not easily impressed by his contemporaries, was in awe of veterans of the Battle of Lepanto…Don John, Farnese & Cervantes not least of all.
    For the full effect of the following essay, I ask you, gentle reader, to forget everything you have ever heard about Shakespeare & Cervantes…as it is probably wrong anyway.

  7. khalid mohd says:

    DEAR SHEKHAR;
    I APPRICIATE YOUR VIEWS ON BLENDED MEDIA APPROACH.I HAD BEEN A MEDIA PERSON HAVING NEWS EXPERIENCE FOR THE LAST THIRTEEN YEARS.I HAVE A SCRIPT CALLED BREAKING NEWS THAT IS DEVELOPED ON THE SAME FORMULA.I AM LOOKING FOR A PERSON WHO CAN FEEL FOR IT.HOW CAN I APPROACH YOU?I WOULD LIKE TO SEND YOU OTHER DETAILS ABOUT ME?I HAVE FOUND THAT YOUR WEBSITE IS QUITE ORGANISED BUT WE SHOULD CREATE A DIRECT MAILING SYSTEM ALSO TO YOU.WAITING FOR YOUR REPLY.KHALID M

  8. Riazuddin says:

    Hai Shekharji,
    How r u? You are one of my all time favourite directors especially after the film, Mr.India. Would you just tell me who is ur favourite actress(es)? And why u like her or them?
    Please let me know as soon as possible.
    Thank you , bye.

  9. Jess says:

    Hey Shekhar
    Well like already mentioned above, i loved Mr India, it was a complete different film, to all the ones that were being made back in thay time.
    Could you not possibly get my all time Sridevi, to come back in films, just one..i know its hard work to run a family and a profession at the same time. She was a very pretty actress, only used to watch her films mostly, to see what outfits she was wearing, and how she looked, and without saying,her acting was FAB, which no other actress can compete with
    I would love to become an actress, been told by many people, i should give it serious thought…im not sure though.
    Look forward to your reply.
    Jess

  10. Gopinath Iyengar says:

    Hi Shekar,
    I’m literally waiting, like i wait here in front of local water tap for water, to know the progress on PAANI. Please update me 🙂

  11. Tarun Anand says:

    hello shekhar sir,
    in the blog most of the talk is about director shekhar. but i do not know mr director shekhar.
    this is fact. i was an airmen before few months. left the service to work for education in my birth place (village). i got could know you thru program india got talent. my god. i am highly impressed with the way you interact and involve with each participant of the program. you not at all look profession on the show. in fact you enjoy and reaches to the depth of each participants. your this attitude really touched my heart and thats why i am writting to you. in fact i am very heartlistning man and very emotional. that is the reason i left the service and and now working for rural uplifitment thru providing quality education at the root level in remote village. i am feeling luck to have people like u in the nation.
    thank you very much and keep loving the people of india.

  12. progiftstore says:

    Well, I never thougt that an interview can including so many things. From the water crisis we faced to wether the work eat into family time, impressed. No defence, don’t you think the simple question such as Does work eat into family time sometimes should put in the font of the interview, then, gradually getting deeper?
    But still, this director is great, and also he is kind, really, wish to care so many people all over the world. If there is any chance, I will watch the movie he make, although I seldom watch Indian movies.

  13. progiftstore says:

    Well, I never thougt that an interview can including so many things. From the water crisis we faced to wether the work eat into family time, impressed. No defence, don’t you think the simple question such as Does work eat into family time sometimes should put in the font of the interview, then, gradually getting deeper?
    But still, this director is great, and also he is kind, really, wish to care so many people all over the world. If there is any chance, I will watch the movie he make, although I seldom watch Indian movies.

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