'It's all about the stories'

'It's all about the stories'

new-age filmmaker

'It's all about the stories'

He is extremely shy and reticent. He is also stressed and tensed about the post-production and pre-release deadlines of Rocket Singh... and also the fact that Yash Raj Films, who also produced Chak De! India has planned its promotion in such a way that he is, as of now, supposed to keep anything about the film under wraps. With a nervous laugh, Shimit denies this. “How can I talk about my film when I am still working on the edit and when I do not know what will it finally look like?” he asks. We reassure him that we are profiling him as a director and that the film just happens to be releasing on December 11.

How does he decide what scripts to make? “It’s all about the story,” he replies and soon we realise that the man will make a habit of saying this like a mantra. We try another track. Does he consciously decide to work on a different genre each time? “I told you, it’s all about the stories and scripts. I am not close-minded in a way that I want to do just one kind of story. A good story makes you feel right.”

Ab Tak Chhappan, he says, had a reference to real life. Ram Gopal Varma had developed the idea and suggested that Shimit make the film — as simple as that. Chak De! India was inspired by a top sportsperson. But Shimit is one of those rare substantial directors who does not write or co-write his own films.

He agrees. “Yes, I am not a writer. So I need another writer.” So is he handed over a script or a directorial assignment or is he involved from the early stages itself? “Jaideep Sahni asked me to read the script of Chak De! India, and Ram Gopal Varma had developed the idea of Ab Tak Chhappan and the cop’s journey inspired me.” It’s all about... guess what?  The way he feels about a story and script. And Jaideep wrote Rocket Singh... too. But Ram Gopal Varma and the YRF sensibilities are a 180 degree shift from each other. “Yes, but the stories in question appealed to me.” Now, where did we hear that before?

Still, was he planning to become a director, ever? “Not consciously,” he says candidly. “Maybe I would have gone into it at some stage.” And does he perceive advantages or disadvantages in an editor turning to direction? “The advantage is that I understand post-production (He’s neck-deep in that now). The disadvantage is that I am worried whether I will shoot well.” Explain, we say. “I am not sure if I am not indulgent to the director in me.” As a result of this fear, presumably, Rocket Singh... is being edited by someone else, though no one can fault the tight edit of both his earlier films.
So is it goodbye to editing? Will he be game to edit another director’s film? “I don’t know. I have not had the time since I started making films.” We can read between the lines — this is only his third film in six years and clearly, he’s a storyteller and not the guy who wants to merely wield the digital scissors.

Shimit’s style and sensibility has little place for songs, and while Ab Tak... had no songs, Chak De! India was no musical and Rocket Singh... has just three tracks. But the common feature in all the films are music directors Salim-Sulaiman with whom Shimit admits to have a neat rapport.

His three films have also had three heroes across three generations — Nana Patekar, Shah Rukh Khan and Ranbir Kapoor. But while Rocket Singh’s heroine is new discovery Shazahn Padamsee who has been completely kept under wraps, his first two films had no heroines in the real sense.

Does he have a yen for heroine-less stories or films without lead pairs? “You are wrong! Conventional or otherwise, Chak De! India had 16 of them!” says Shimit, breaking into laughter.