DIRECTOR: DEDIPYA JOSHII
“I don’t like the term ‘Bollywood’. We have our own rich history and need not borrow any foreign name. It will be better if it was called the ‘Hindi’ Film Industry. Now coming to your question, I would say this is a much better time for the Indian film industry. We who are doing well now have seen the hardships from the 80’s and 90’s and we have learned what not to do. When I watch new films coming out, I am amused that there is so much to say and so many people doing it. I feel mainstream cinema and independent cinema will come together, without any contrast and people will go to watch good films only.”
Interview by Shailik Bhaumik
Image (above) from the Dedipya Joshii film, “Shackle”.
Filmmaker Dedipya Joshii
HLC Studios Chairman and Filmmaker, Shailik Bhaumik had an opportunity to interview Director Dedipya Joshii and discuss the experience and challenges of producing the independent film “Shackle”. And the social implications behind the film, as it pertains to the cultural contradictions in gender equality in not only Indian traditions, but in many other cultures worldwide.
Q: Dedipya, first of all I would like to congratulate you for the huge success of your feature film “Shackle” and your kindeness in the partaking of this interview. It has been screened almost every part of the world and received so many awards. What actually provoked you to make this movie?
A: “Thank you so much Shailik for inviting me to be a part of this interview… From the very beginning I have always been amused by stories related to women and their correlation with the social evils. But to become an activist or social worker was not my ambition, as I was much more passionate about filmmaking therefore I wanted to produce such true stories which aware layman about malpractices and instead of a few NGOs large number of people can stand against and eliminate the root cause of such evils. Meanwhile some 15 years ago, I read in India Today about a ritual on Indo-Pak Border where men of small community had imposed the ritual on women and children and prepared the foundation to make their life hell. At that time I had decided to bring the story to the people as soon as I will be able, though after 15 years day came.”
Q: Indian civilization is more than 5000 year old and there is a rich history of Indian tradition and culture, but why do you think women are still being victims of customs and ritual malpractices?
A: “See, our social structure is patriarchal and males have always been the decision makers. If one part of society acquires all the powers, then this becomes inevitable that they will exploit others for sake of their interest. All the social evils in the world are result of loopholes in our social structure. The irony is that on one hand we pray the goddesses and on the other we treat them like our boots…!! Who manifested this parody…!! Male made them goddesses as well as the boots. It never mattered to anyone what she wanted? Decision were always forced on her and she has suffered because of it.”
Q: Why do you think more films should be made to initiate India’s gender equality revolution and help dissolve the misogynistic nature of the nation’s society and culture?
A: “Watching cinema is a part of our culture… like opera and theatre is in some other parts of the world. Thus, there is no bigger medium. I think not only gender inequality but all the problems of society should be brought into light so that more and more people know about them and in a country 125 cr. people if even 5 cr. understand the crisis it will be far easier to make rest 120 cr understand. It will definitely take time but slowly the change will happen.”
Q: You are in the film industry for more than two decades and “Shackle” is your debut feature. Why did it take so many years to make your first feature project? (Please describe your Journey in the film industry and about your previous works for our interview.)
A: “True… It took 20 years; basically I belong to Jaipur (Rajasthan). Actually immediately after my college I came to Mumbai to work as an Asst. Director. After assisting in many films & serials for a few years I did direct few Hindi serials for Doordarshan, Zee & Etv in early 2000. I left TV when creativity began to be compromised and shoot became monotonous. In year 2004 came into contact with world cinema for the 1st time in a Hindi film from a French production house as a chief Asst. Director, I got that role because I was good in Hindi but that experience made me feel that I wanted to do such kind of work ahead in life… Between 2006 to 2008 I made 3 short films viz Bhookh (Hunger), Aaghaat (Shattered), Idiot which were much appreciated in film festivals. Now I made up my mind for making a feature film. You will be surprised to know that “Saankal (Shackle)” is my 1st film but from 2008 to 2013 I pitched another story “kaanchli (Life in a Slough)” by a renowned Rajasthani author/writer Mr. Vijaydan Detha, to a number of actresses in Mumbai industry such as Vidya Baalan, Radhika Apte & Neetu Chandra and to all big production houses but got nothing more than mere promises… then one day I placed it in my almirah… realizing that time has not really come for that story yet and I should focus on some other story instead. Then that article from India Today came to my mind and I wrote Saankal (Shackle). Shot it in Feb-March 2015 and rest you know. Well “Kaanchli” is really close to my heart & I am waiting for the day to shoot it.”
Q: What are the challenges you faced making ‘Shackle’?
A: “The biggest challenge was that it was not a project of any specific studio. It was a pure Indie film. Raising funds was the main task so we turned to Friend Funding (Crowd Funding) and incorporated some capable film lovers who could help fund it. In this process a film lover, Mr. Anand Rathore came on board and became co-producer of the film. Such a team was developed which was dedicated to creativity instead of money. Tanima Bhattacharya (Lead Actress), Chetan Sharma (Lead Actor), Harish Kumaar (Supporting Actor), Jaywant Raut (Cinematographer), Sanjeev Boharpi (Associate Director) were such seasoned professionals who were doing good since years yet instead of giving priority to money managed to handle more than one departments. Tanima & Chetan did costumes design for the film, Jaywant Dada and Sanjeev did set designing. Well, Tanima has won 4 awards for Best Actress for Saankal and Chetan also got nominated for best actor in a number of places but when they were nominated for “Best Costume” at “Milan Film Festival” I got really happy. During shoot in Bikaner (Rajasthan) temperature was below zero and it was very cold. Everyday shoot started late due to heavy fog. Location was some 35 Kms away from Bikaner Jaisalmer highway. It was a task to travel to and from in desert daily but passion was at right place and the film completed.”
Q: I understand you along with your team are currently running a crowd funding campaign to release ‘Shackle’ theatrically in India. After being screened in so many countries, receiving so many recognition and critical acclaim why ‘Shackle’ is still struggling to find a distributor in India?
A: “It is sad that though we were sure that after winning 14 awards and all this appreciation it will be easy for us to release in India but past 6 months of our pitching for this film has not given any distribution partner though we gained good experience. It is unfortunate that the Mumbai industry is still dependent on box office. Filmmaking is more a business than art. Although the path for Indie films has become less difficult, some films find their way and reach the theatre after a long the tiring process, yet they don’t get viewers because people have been conditioned to appreciate a “different kind” of cinema. And changing that is not an easy job. We will soon release “Saankal (Shackle)” on a digital platform. Our motive is to make films reach more and more people and not just to make money; no matter if it be the theatre or a digital platform.”
Q: What do you think, what will be the impact of ‘Shackle’ on Indian audience who are much comfortable in watching Masala Movies (Spice Movies) of Bollywood?
A: As I said, people have been made adapted to a different cinema and this can’t be changed all of sudden. Yet, I believe anyone who will watch “Saankal (Shackle)” in theatre or digitally shall not be left untouched but have a deep impact.
Q: “I see that you have experience of working with 35mm film. I understand ‘Shackle’ is entirely shot in digital. What is the major difference you found in working with both formats?
A: The 35mm era has gone; everyone started shifting to digital and this change has been largely accepted. If we had to shoot “Saankal (Shackle)” on film negative then filming would have become a tougher job, we couldn’t do as many retakes as our budget was low. Post-production would take more money and time. Shifting from manual to digital is a boon for indie filmmakers.”
Q: If you were given a chance to remake ‘Shackle’ which is the area you would like to rectify?
A: “I think film is like a painting. Artist has made the painting in what circumstances, with what resources and at what time is crucial and matters a lot. Firstly, I never want to remake ‘Saankal (Shackle)’ and even if I do it will be a proper shoot for more days. Now shot in 23 days but then I will shoot it in 43 days (Laughs). Still, don’t want to make its remake. Cult films are not meant to be remade. Of course, I would like to turn script of ‘Saankal’ (Shackle) into a novel which will be named Kesar-Abeera of Shackle.”
Q: What do you think in which direction Bollywood film industry is moving and what is the future of Independent film in Indian market?
A: :I don’t like the term ‘Bollywood’. We have our own rich history and need not borrow any foreign name. It will be better if called “Hindi Film Industry”. Now coming to your question, I would say this is a much better time for the Indian film industry. We who are doing well now have seen the hardships from the 80’s and 90’s in cinema. We have learned what not to do. When I watch new films in every few days I am amused that there is so much to say and so many people doing it. I feel mainstream cinema and independent cinema will come together without any contrast and people will go to watch good films only. And mouth publicity will become a trend again and current publicity techniques shall vanish gradually. This will affect film budget and ticket rate too.”
Q: What are the skills or qualities you think Indian filmmakers need to improve to compete with the International filmmakers?
A: “To perform well in world cinema our filmmakers shall have to portray astonishing stories. Technically at par with international standards, we will have to bring domestic stories. This formula may help in establishing our position.”
Q: My last question, what would happen if Dedipya Joshi didn’t come to the film industry?
A: (Laughter) “If not in film industry, I would have been in cricket playing state level tournaments and then retiring only to work in a government job and writing stories and poems in spare time and made them published in journals. Now, I am a filmmaker and trying to bring the same stories to big screen. I am thankful for my parents who have always supported me in whatever I’ve wished to do. Thank you, Shailik, it was a pleasure.”
Shailik Bhaumik is an award-winning filmmaker and entrepreneur. Known for his feature film “Dasein”, Shailik is the founder and Chairman of Human Lab Corporation, a Multinational Film Company whose mission it is to help Independent Filmmakers survive and thrive in this highly competitive industry. Shailik oversees worldwide operations including production, distribution, and marketing for HLC’s live-action films, as well as films released under the HLC banner.