From the time the thought of making movies crossed my mind, I was certain that I didn’t want to be a director. I wanted to be a filmmaker.
While both are about storytelling on screen but being a director is doing a job – taking the onus of executing a story that may not be yours.
Being a filmmaker is about putting your own expression on screen.
I happen to have a lot that’s bottled up inside me for I don’t know how long; some of that probably deserves an expression.
But is that the only reason why I want to make movies – to tell my stories? In that case what’s wrong with the old-fashioned “writers writing novels”?
I have this belief – the purer your intention is to do a certain thing, the more rewarding that thing will be for you.
(This applies to everything – from jobs to marriage)
And it’s too important a question to be left unanswered – the raison d’ etre.
Is it just a compelling need to tell your own story? Or is it something deeper than that?
I found my answer in a childhood incident.
When I was 9, in school our English teacher introduced us to writing autobiographies. She would ask us to imagine the lives of inanimate objects like a coin or a pen or a notebook or maybe a walking stick and write their autobiographies.
I, for one, took to it like a moth to a flame. I imagined the lives of coins and pens and notebooks from the time they were born till the time they ran into obscurity.
I was too young to understand the concept of death but I was aware that things that you love dearly could one day get lost. I told myself that even they are lost to me, they are there somewhere, bringing as much joy to the person who found them.
As my obsession with autobiographies grew, at some point I actually lost the ability to distinguish between living beings and non-living objects. For me anything that had a present had a past and a future. And that to me was life.
One afternoon I was alone at home. It was summer and I was thirsty. Realising that no one was around I decided to do what my folks always told me not to – open the fridge and have really cold water.
As I took the plastic pet bottle out and opened the cap to drink some water, the bottle slipped out of my tiny hands and fell. Blame it on the plastic those days but to my horror, the bottle broke.
That moment for me, back then, was way too devastating. As I saw broken bottle lying on the ground with water spilt all around, I saw a horrible accident that just happened because of my carelessness – there was a seriously injured bottle that was numb in pain with bloody water all around testifying the enormity of the accident.
After the initial shock, I somehow found my feet and cleaned the scene of the crime with a mop. And then I picked up the helpless bottle and took it to my secret hideout behind a secret door.
I wrapped it in a piece of cloth and made it lie down. I don’t remember if I had cried in grief but I do remember saying ‘sorry’ to the bottle about a thousand times.
As the days passed, my guilt grew – that I was responsible for the poor bottles helpless life. Because of me it will never be able to serve its purpose of storing water.
Every day I would come back from school, run to the secret corner behind the secret door and spend some time talking to the bottle – “I am really very sorry. I promise I will find a way to get you fixed.”
I was afraid that if someone had to write an autobiography of a pet water bottle, I’d be held responsible for the sadness.
I hated sadness. I’d hate it if someone made me sad. And that I was responsible for my water bottle’s sadness, was something I just couldn’t come to terms with.
Till one day someone saw me talking to the bottle. I think it was my domestic help who generally kept a tab on me.
I was caught. And now I would go to jail.
But then she started laughing. She picked up the bottle, saw it was broken and screamed out loud, “This bottle is broken. Let me chuck it in the bin”.
For a moment I was relieved that I would probably not be sent to jail. But then a strange feeling engulfed me and made me even sadder – “Why is she not understanding that the bottle is injured? Why is she not showing as much respect to the injured bottle as she shows to my old uncle?
What is wrong with her – doesn’t she know that this bottle is alive?”
Looking back, that to me is the purpose behind My Cinema – a world of my own, created out of sounds and visuals, where everything truly has life.
And that I will always be stupid enough to believe it.