A wanderer's tales

Candid talk

A wanderer's tales

For filmmaker Homi Adajania, making movies is an adventure. Udita Jhunjhunwala speaks to the unconventional director about his latest film ‘Finding Fanny’ & more...

In 2006, wanderer, diver, adventurer Homi Adajania opened up a new chapter in his colourful life when he made the quirky psychological drama Being Cyrus. Six years later, he took the unexpected step of helming the commercial big budget Bollywood romance Cocktail. And now he’s prepping for the release of his third feature. The mix of the mood and genre of Being Cyrus and the starry scale of Cocktail is visible in Finding Fanny headlining Deepika Padukone, Dimple Kapadia, Pankaj Kapur, Naseeruddin Shah and Arjun Kapoor.

At the time of the release of Cocktail, the 43-year-old Bombay boy, who has no background or training in filmmaking prior to making his directorial debut, had said that he sees life “as a series of shots”. He said, “I have a visual way of living life. So I never thought it would be difficult for me to make a film provided the right technicians surround me. The advantage of not knowing what tools you have around you is that nothing restricts your imagination.”

The indie phase

Fans of the cult hit Being Cyrus hoped Homi would stick to being an offbeat, indie voice. Cocktail, however, swung to the other end of the spectrum and the out-and-out Bollywood film met with mixed reactions. Ask him how he feels about the film now and Homi says, “I cringe whenever I see anything I have shot. I am never happy when I look at stuff I’ve done and I think that’s a good thing because if I didn’t, I would keep regurgitating the same crap. Though I still like the visual sensibility that we achieved in Cocktail.”

His latest feature, in English, is about a group of dysfunctional characters on a journey to find a woman called Stefanie. “The so-called journey is supposed to take a half hour at most, and they all have their own stupid agendas to be a part of it, but it takes a couple of days, and through the process, they discover some point to their previously pointless lives,” explains Homi, adding that Finding Fanny is closer to his sensibility and his “cross to bear”.

The story of Finding Fanny was brewing with Homi for some time and he was keen to “get it out” of his system. The idea for the film germinated from an article he read about an Italian postman in a small village. He says, “The postman got arrested for not delivering letters for a year. He’d just go to the post office, collect the mail, go home, get hammered and chill all day. When they caught him, they found his entire spare room with undelivered letters stacked up to the ceiling. That got me thinking about what would happen if I lived at that time, wrote a letter proposing to the love of my life and presumed that her non-reply was a rejection. So I end up living a life of regret till I realise that the letter had never ever been delivered to her. Yup, so that was the seed of the story.”

In the eight years between Being Cyrus and returning to Goa to find Fanny, Homi became a father twice over and enjoyed myriad experiences. “The journey has been great fun. But that has nothing to do with films. I started snowboarding, did some wild scuba diving gigs, had two kids… (laughs and speaks like a Hollywood Voice Over) It was one man’s struggle to take it easy!” Thus, Homi slips in his peculiar brand of humour. (This interview comes with strict instructions to maintain his words and phraseology precisely, in its original.)

Having dipped into and enjoyed both spheres, he says that straddling the “so-called indie space and “starry space” comes easy to him because even his ‘indies’ are backed by big banners with ‘starries’ joining him in that space. “It’s not a struggle like my first film, but I know what you’re getting at so to clarify things — I love the creative satisfaction from the ‘indie space’ and the lifestyle while shooting the ‘big banner’ space. Though both are equally stressful, we always have a blast.”


By his own admission, travel has “largely defined” who he is today. Homi’s adventures and footloose days stretched almost a decade, between the ages of 20 and 30. “Every time I made a little money, I disappeared. I collected everything to go to England on a one-way ticket to sail a small sailboat back, missed the boat, and returned after four months of babysitting, washing sofas and carpets, painting houses and bought my ticket home. I lived in a cave in Crete and spent $147 in an entire month. After college, I drove with a friend from Bombay to Bhutan and then got deported once we crossed over to the Nepal border. Like this, I had several experiences all over, and I learned that if you are broke and happy, you will never be happier!”

For someone with wanderlust and an aversion to being boxed and labelled, three films sound like a career. The filmmaker is quick to respond: “When people ask me what I do, I often say that like them I live my life, which in my opinion is my full-time job. But, as usual, our need to slot everyone into boxes rears its ugly head. So then the ‘career’ angle is thrown in. Before three films, you’re at a cusp where it’s rather trying when people ask ‘What do you do?’ and you say you are a filmmaker. Three films manage to cut it for me where I can say I make films. It is definitely my bread and butter. All the other stuff I dabble in is still very important in my life, but my ‘career’ revolves around filmmaking.”

Having said that, he’s not sure what project will capture his fancy next. He’s ‘juggling’ some ideas and waiting to see what ripens first. But ask him who is Homi when he is not making films, and he reflects, “I really don’t know. It’s strange but sometimes I look back on some of the stuff I’ve done or created and I wonder who did that? What I do know is that if I could answer this question, I would probably be bored or will have attained continual peace in my mind. See, I am fluctuating within the answer itself, so I really don’t know!” It’s clearly not that easy to find Homi.

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