We caught up with NITK student, Vishak Nair, an aspiring film-maker and actor based in India. He began making movies as early as Grade 10 with a handy cam and a lot of passion.
Enthusiastic and driven, Nair plans to be part of the ‘new Bollywood Industry’. Here’s our rendezvous:
1. What made you want to become a filmmaker? When did this fascination begin?
I’ve been in love with movies right from primary school. Primarily because my dad would rent a movie every evening, which I would watch after getting back from school. So watching a movie everyday became a part of my daily routine and pretty soon, I was watching films that were a little too mature for my age.
Films, for better or worse, have been as integral to shaping my personality and value system as my parents.I suppose it was this routine, encouraged by my dad that first made me interested in the world of cinema.
2. When did you make your first movie and what was it about?
I made my first film during my 10th grade summer break. It was a project that a bunch of my friends and I undertook simply to kill time. It centered around a bunch of nerds who decide to stand up against the bullies in their locality and was called When Hell Froze Over.
3. What’s the funniest reaction you’ve gotten from someone when you’ve told them you’re studying engineering but want to become a filmmaker?
Honestly, I’ve never really received a funny reaction. Maybe because of the no bullshit manner in which I explain my plans to those who ask me about them. Condescending, yes. But I don’t think anyone can hold on to that impression about you or your work as long as you’re confident.
At the end of the day, you follow your passion for yourself. Not to impress others.
4. It seems that other filmmakers have a huge influence on your plot lines [Motivation, Withdrawal, Rats]. How do you ensure that your work becomes yours?
Of course my work has been influenced by other filmmakers. But I don’t think the plot lines of my films were inspired by other films. With the exception of Rats of course, which was my tribute to Reservoir Dogs. Tarantino has been a huge influence on me. Moreover, we have very similar creative processes. Scorcese is another filmmaker I have been influenced by.
More than story lines, it’s the shots, transitions, and other aesthetic and story telling techniques that master filmmakers are known for that I have incorporated into my films, in an attempt to develop my own creative identity. There’s something you can pick up from almost every filmmaker. The hard part is to make these elements seamlessly fit into your story.
5. What’s the most difficult part of making a film?
Writing the script and developing the screenplay are the activities I find most difficult. Simply because getting a solid script and screenplay in place is the most important step to making a film. Brilliant acting, beautiful photography, a stupendous soundtrack, all account to nothing if your script isn’t tight.
So one really needs to put in a lot of time and effort into making it as flawless as possible.
6. You act in a lot of your movies. Have you considered becoming an actor?
I have. But I only act in my films if I can’t find another actor to play that particular part. Directing and acting simultaneously can be a real pain in the *ss. That said, I absolutely love acting and have acted in numerous plays as well. But as far as films as concerned, I would rather be the painter than the paint.
7. What do you think of Bollywood movies these days? How do you think you can influence this mediascape?
Although Bollywood has been living up to it’s reputation of churning out feces in the name of cinema, a tremendous amount of change has come into the industry over the last decade. A lot of quality films, both independent and mainstream, have started coming out. I think most of the credit for this change goes to the audience.
Today’s audience has begun demanding smarter, more artistic films and thanks to the law of supply and demand, we are on the verge of a paradigm shift. Sometime down the line, I would like to start my own production company and make offbeat, independent films. However that is a very long term objective.
8. What is the plan for the future?
For now, I plan to continue making at least one film a year. Then attend film and business school, enter the industry and finally set up my own production company.
9. Anything to say to the world at large or our generation directly?
As cliché as it may sound, all I have to say is keep doing what you love. Don’t be afraid to dream or to look at the glass half empty. And most importantly, keep it simple, keep cool.
Take a look at Vishak’s short films here: