Talking Movies with Mr. Bookwala

It was such a pleasure to chat with Mr. Bookwala. The young budding director is all about making a difference in the world of Hindi cinema. But what most interests me is his knack for being an incredibly broad minded and uniquely different filmmaker. Very sharp and rather avant-garde for the Indian population, Mr. Bookwala hardly believes he cannot achieve what he has set out to do. With an incredibly long line of work behind him, I couldn't help but approach him for an interview especially since I am an avid Hindi movie fan! Looking for some "real" answers, I asked him a bunch. His answers? Inspiring!

Tell me about your journey in films? How did it all start?
I’ve always dreamed of making movies. From the first time that I watched Betaab in a theater, I knew that nothing would fascinate me more. I voraciously watched all kinds of Hindi movies growing up and found a particularly charming addiction to them. I directed plays in college, did a small stint with Ad-Films and worked extensively directing TV shows. But my lust for the silver screen only increased with time. It was vibrant, luxurious, full of razzle-dazzle fantasy and a delicious visual feast that I could not get enough of. Then I saw Dil Se, and I knew I had found my calling. I packed up my bags, headed to NYC and got a degree in writing and Directing from NYFA. It took a while to get entrenched into the business (coming from a non-film background) but today I’m happy producing and writing films.

Who are some prominent personalities within the industry that you look up to and why?
Ekta Kapoor, Shah Rukh Khan, AR Rahman, Karan Johar and Sanjay Leela Bhansali. There are plenty of names. Each in their own way has redefined a part of what the industry is today. Be it, opulence, to styling to new sounds and technology to absolutely unconventional stories

How has the face of Hindi cinema changed over time?
It’s radically evolved. Films today create their own hightened world, aggressively defying conformist authenticity and the established conventions of Bollywood. Today we have films like an LSD, Khosla Ka Ghosla, Ragini MMS, and Bheja Fry finding an audience. Not to say, it all lies in smart stories and zero budgets. Audiences are open to smarter content. Better Story. Innovative visual effects. And design. So today a superhero film like Krrish is a walloping success. Also an absinthe-dripped extravagance like Guzaarish, dealing with a macabre subject like Euthanasia finds producers. Technicians are Operating with the precision and crazy adornments of a cuckoo clock, “stars” that used to be a migraine have become professionals. Marketing has become so visceral and enchanting that even the man on the moon knows about the release.

What do you like and dislike most about current films?
Many films today package big stars, foreign locations and are a terrible case of sensory overload with style, music and fancy glossy camerawork. Anjaana Anjaani, Kambakth Ishq, Saawariya and Tashan are some examples of films that focuses on lavish production numbers and star value. Like Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s film, the excesses could be scraped away so that we can audiences can see actors bring their characters to life. Instead the films let us get overwhelmed by the MTV-style editing and the garish sets. The story is the soul of a film. That is, and always will remain the success formula to a movie. Sadly, writers are the least paid on a film. Ranging from 0.5 – 1% of the films budget.

What is one façade that you have come across while working in Hindi films?

People in Bollywood are FAKE. Everyone hates everyone. Still, people chose to be incessantly diplomatic about it. There is a dirty sense of competition. Everyone plays the number game. It’s the crab mentality. Bollywood is a complete façade.

Where do you see Hindi cinema in the next 10 years?
Hindi Cinema should find a place in world cinema. There will always be the gala song-and-dance routines, but we will have delivered the one Oscar winning, internationally acclaimed film. Indian Cinema will be where cable American TV (HBO, Showtime, Starz) is today, in 10 years.

A piece of advice you would give to budding filmmakers?
It’s a long and frustrating journey. Have patience. And Faith in yourself. The world will give you enough reason to believe that you cannot make a movie. Defy it. Keep going! Make a film that you’d like to see. Be completely faithful to it. Remember, the show MUST go on.

1 comment:

Billy Rivera said...

Champa, this is truly amazing. You reached out to someone you admire for an interview and they came through. I hope fans of Mr. Bookwala know this interview exists and get a chance to read it. I agree with what he said about films today having "a terrible case of sensory overload with style, music and fancy glossy camerawork." As an aspiring filmmaker myself, I went against the norm by moving to Berkeley to study film at Cal, rather than going the UCLA, USC, NYU route. Many people were baffled as to why I would opt out of a top film school and Mr. Bookwala summed up my reason in a nutshell. I simply could not compromise my artistic integrity by shoving a mainstream program down my throat. If only more people knew about the film program at Cal and the potential it can bring to new budding filmmakers. Mr. Bookwala's last statement of advice are words I think I need to live by. Thanks for bringing that inspiration to me and your readers!
Could you by any chance direct me to some of Mr. Bookwala's film work? Thanks, Champa. :-)


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