Interview : Kiran Rao


‘Aamir’s name would’ve changed things maybe for the worst’

Kiran Rao speaks about presenting Anand Gandhi’s SHIP OF THESEUS and on why Aamir Khan was kept away from it. Read on…

How did you choose to promote this film?
I didn’t choose SHIP OF THESEUS. I watched it at a screening and I was completely overawed by it. I was so excited that a film like this was made by a filmmaker today in India. I was excited about watching it with an audience in a theatre. So I met Anand and I offered him my help. He suggested presenting the film to help the film get a theatrical release. The reason I agreed to do that because I feel very few films like SHIP OF THESEUS are made today. It’s a unique film in its content, in the way the stories are told, in the messages that the film gives and the questions that it raises.

photo gallery

You said that you were overawed by the film when you saw it for the first time. Anything specific which you liked about the film?
The film gives you so much to think and talk about. It’s a conversation starter, it’s really thought provoking. It’s very deep and philosophical as well. Very few films also have so many human stories, so much drama and at the same time deal with the meaning of life, the questions of identity of how we choose to live our lives. So that’s what made me feel that the film is really special. I am presenting it for free. We’ll be really happy if the film makes it money back because the film is very niche and art house.

‘SHIP OF THESEUS it not as accessible as DHOBI GHAT’

Are you philosophical in life? Do you introspect very often?
Yes, I do. I think about life and my place in it a lot. I feel that my work should always be a quest to understand it, to know my own reason to be and to know the meaning of my life. So I do engage with these questions quite a lot. I do try to incorporate it as much as I can in my work. This actually fit right in because this is a kind of film I would love to make.

Did Aamir see the film?
Yes, he saw the film and he absolutely loved it.


Was there any plan to get him involved in the film?
Actually,no. We did think about it but we realised that Aamir is actually too big a name to be attached to a film like this. Because he has such a wide audience base, the wrong kind of audience would come in and have different expectations from the film. So we didn’t want it to become some kind of mass film which it is not. It’s definitely a niche product. To put Aamir’s name would’ve changed things maybe for the worst. People would’ve come in thinking ‘wow, kuch bada mazedaar hoga and found something which maybe they didn’t like.

Was DHOBI GHAT the reason why Aamir was kept away?
No, why DHOBI GHAT? I think DHOBI GHAT benefitted greatly for Aamir being in it. DHOBI GHAT in some was a more accessible film than SHIP OF THESEUS. DHOBI GHAT had many more subtle messages and talked about life much more through relationships than this film does. The questions that this film raises are quite out there. But in its storytelling, the way in which the narrative unfolds, the aesthetics and style of filmmaking, it’s much more art house. So I don’t think it’s as accessible as DHOBI GHAT.

view SHIP OF THESEUS videos

Did Aamir give you any promotional tips to take it to the right audiences?
No, we did take his advice and his thoughts on marketing but by and large we’ve cracked it ourselves. But Aamir did give us some important bits of advice and reactions that we’ve used. He’s a good bouncing board for us.

‘I am presenting SHIP OF THESEUS for free’

We haven’t seen you donning the director’s hat since DHOBI GHAT. Why is that and do you plan to direct anytime soon?
I’ve been bust for a year and a half because we’ve had a baby and I’m so happy to spend time with him that I haven’t really given my work that much thought. About six-eight months ago I did start working on something. But I stopped after a while. Now, I’ve started writing something else. So hopefully I’ll soon be free to write my own script after SHIP OF THESEUS.