Filmmaker Amit Masurkar is never in a rush. He takes his time…In an industry obsessed with volume, Masurkar’s cinema is about being meticulous, well-researched and detailed – Vidya Balan starrer ‘Sherni’, being streamed on Amazon Prime being the latest example.
Masurkar feels that every filmmaker has his/her own ‘reasons’ for making movies. “Frankly, I enjoy the process of filmmaking. It enriches my worldview and teaches me many things,” he said.
The director, whose second feature film, ‘Newton’ was selected as the Indian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 90th Academy Awards, says though he did feel a certain pressure post the critical response that ‘Newton’ garnered, it did not really last long. “Yes, I felt some pressure for a few months, but as I said, I am a kind of filmmaker who enjoys the process. The moment I immersed myself in work, everything went back to normal.”
Masurkar, who dropped out of an engineering course at the age of 20 to pursue filmmaking and later acquired a BA degree in History from Mumbai University insists that there is no set pattern when it comes to choosing themes/stories. “I trust my instincts when it comes to zeroing in on a story. I don’t have a set process in place. After all, filmmaking is an intuitive process.”
Talking about the research that went into making of ‘Sherni’, he says that Aastha Tiku, the film’s writer, worked on the material that was collected by her research associate and analyzed it to find patterns which formed the rough plot. “She then did long interviews with female forest officers, people who lived in villages near jungles, zoologists and conservationists.
The other department heads did their own research to get other details right, like costume (Rushi-Manoshi and Bhagyashree) production design (Devika Dave), sound design (Anish John) and music (Naren and Benedict). We had a scientific advisor on board, Dr Virani whose help we all took.”
The director, for whom conservation is extremely close to the heart believes, “It would be extremely foolish to ignore the signs that are in front of us,” says this director of the independent comedy film ‘Sulemani Keeda’.
Perhaps India’s first full-fledged ‘jungle film’, Masurkar says that he has tried to incorporate multiple points of view and perspectives. “The forest is a character in the film.”
Adding that for the film to have an impact on people, it needed to feel realistic compared to other films that our Indian audiences are familiar with, for Masurkar it was important to work on every detail of sound, score and cinematography (Rakesh Haridas). “The editor Dipika Kalra had a lot of footage of the jungle to work with. Creating the atmosphere took a lot of effort from her side.”
Though made for a theatrical release, he does not really have complaints that it was screened on an OTT platform. “Owing to the pandemic we released it straight on Amazon. It has reached millions of people worldwide.”
Masurkar is currently working on several ideas including a series created by writer Aastha Tiku.
–By Sukant Deepak