Gaurav Bhardwaj who fell in love with cinema in his childhood and has a complete clarity that he only wants to become a filmmaker. Read on to know more about this army kid.
Tell us about your life journey in brief?
I am an army kid, which means we moved from one station to another every 2 years. Thanks to this, I got to see a lot of places since childhood. I can’t say exactly when I fell in love with cinema. As far as I can remember, I was enthusiastic about watching films since the beginning of my time. I know it sounds like a romantic notion but how can anyone not fall in love with cinema? We used to have those open-air army theatres where they played both Hindi and English films every week. I would stubbornly get after my parents to take me for the film even if we had already seen it on home video. I vividly remember us going to the theatre on my father’s Bajaj Chetak. With time, I got more and more closer to films.
What prompted you to become a filmmaker?
I grew up on a heavy diet of films. It was sometime during my graduation that I also started watching foreign films. Because of lack of clarity about how to pursue being a filmmaker, I went ahead and did my graduation in BBA. This was a wrong decision but a right one as well because it made amply clear to me that I was not meant for anything else except for films. I did my Mass Com. in Audio-Visual department and started making short films by gathering my friends. I had to earn money to make films so, soon, I started a boring day job and by night, I wrote and planned my short films. Now after writing, directing and editing 3 shorts and working on one feature length indie film, I am here, recently shifted to Mumbai and ready for a more rigorous pursuit of my dream.
Tell us about your team, if you have?
I started out with my friend and since then we two have been constant on all the projects. He does the camera for all our projects. Recently he bought the new Sony A 7s and the results have been fantastic. A lot of times, DSLR users complain of digital look in their films. Sony A 7s solved that problem for us. I am also thankful to all my other close friends who have supported us on this journey till now. I would specially want to thank my friends from the days when I was still working on a day job in Pune. These friends were my colleagues and when they learnt that I was planning a short film, they helped me every which way they could. My major cast and team on that short film included these colleagues and some common friends as well. Because of our office, we used to shoot on weekends. After facing a lot of scheduling and other problems, we were still able to make that short. It’s titled Me, Myself & My Wife. I believe that if you are true to your dreams, nature will automatically guide you to the right people who will help you realize those dreams.
How many/ What kind of movies you have made?
I have written, directed and edited three shorts till now. My first short is Kal, a drama centered around an orphan boy, which I made during my Mass Com. days. My second film was titled Me, Myself & My Wife which was a thriller made in English language. This is the one that we shot in Pune with my office colleagues. The third one is named Mera Joota Hai Japani, which we shot in Delhi last summer. It was a drama surrounding the lives of little kids living on streets and chawls and how one kid’s life changes when he stumbles upon a pair of Japanese-made shoes. I have also worked in other capacities on my friends’ films as a producer, lightman, and sound recorder. I love trying my hand at different genres. I have a deeply felt love for strong character-driven drama films, but also aspire to make good and intelligent thrillers as my first priority.
What is your dream/ vision?
Films are my first love and irrespective of day or night, I dream of being a good filmmaker one day. I know nothing more than cinema. There is a quote by Clint Eastwood which I love; it goes like, “When you know you have a tunnel vision, better make full use of it.” I want to give the audience the experience of watching strong, character-driven films. I want to make such thrillers that absolutely defy audience’s pre-conceived notions at every available opportunity and give them something completely unexpected. I Iike films that are unpredictable and break conventions. I think Coen Brothers are experts at this (Watch Burn After Reading, No Country For Old Men). I also love Sriram Raghavan’s work (Ek Hasina Thi, Johnny Gaddaar, Badlapur). We need to explore this genre more because most of the present films being made here are comedy.
What difficulties you face as an independent filmmaker?
Being an independent filmmaker, there are always money issues. One has to work with limited resources and try to bring out the best possible product out of the whole exercise. Then there is the question of actors – whom to cast, how much to pay, etc. Being an independent filmmaker, I have to handle a lot of work myself ranging from location scouting to casting. Then there is the question of distribution. Distributors are slowly opening up to indie filmmakers but it will take some more time before things become easier for filmmakers like us. But amidst all these difficulties, there lies one big advantage – I can make whatever I want to make and however I want to make without any pressure from any studio. That’s why recommend that one focuses on positive side rather than the negative one.
What inspires you or keeps you going?
There are moments when I feel low and then a random scene or a dialogue from a movie would just pop up in my head and that, there, suddenly fills me with renewed enthusiasm. I guess I have seen so many great films over the years that my mind keeps playing their scenes in my head. Then, I wonder what if I did a scene of that magnitude and who would be the best actor to play that role? And BANG…I am up again…thinking cinema, back on track. And then there is this constant aspiration to make the best movie ever.
Any fun/ memorable incident?
There are many but there is one incident that happened on the sets of Me, Myself & My Wife. I had brought in an actress for a role. She had to be embalmed in a scene and I wanted the look for this scene to be similar to Dexter (Michael C. Hall starrer series) when he kills his victims. To achieve that, we started covering the entire room with plastic sheets. We brought in a table and started covering that too with plastic sheets. I placed all the surgical equipment on a side table and gave my other actor (who was playing the doctor) gloves, face mask and a hospital-grade apron. The actress didn’t know anything about the scene and so it was kind of a humorous moment when she entered the room and her face filled with horror. Me, the other actor and our cinematographer- we all were in splits when I further proceeded to roll her in plastic from head to toe. She was kind of petrified.
What advice you’d like to give to someone who is interested/newbie in film making?
There are a few important tips that I would like to offer. If you want to be a filmmaker, start making films. Don’t wait for anyone’s approval or money. Start with short films. Gather your friends and take note of all the available resources (props, locations, actors) in your home, your friend’s home, friend’s friend’s home. Keep your budget low and experiment with all that is readily available to you. You will learn how to make a good movie with limited resources and this would serve you great in your future as a filmmaker. Also get your own equipment. Don’t run around hiring it every time. You don’t need a RED Epic camera to make a good movie. Instead get what you can afford. Get some LED lights (which are under Rs. 4K), a decent sound recorder with lapel mic support and you are ready to go. Keep writing, keep shooting! Also, it would be great if you learned the editing and sound mixing part as well. This will lessen your dependence on others to complete the movie. Being creative is good but do you know what is great? To also know the technical side of filmmaking. Imagine how much money you could save by doing the post-production yourself.
Anything else you’d like to share?
People are generally more open and helpful when you tell them that you are a filmmaker and need help. I have personally experienced that. Be it location or anything. People outside of film industry always look up to you. So if you need permissions for a location or anything else, all you have to do is ask with humility. Most of the times, one gets what one wants.
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