Away from the beaten track

Directorial debut

Away from the beaten track
Everything that Shubhashish Bhutiani did while growing up helped shape his future. He focussed on theatre while in school and watched several movies which eventually encouraged him to start writing scripts. He brought together his passion for stories, theatre and writing and is now ready to release his first directorial, ‘Mukti Bhawan’.

His thesis film at the School of Visual Arts, titled ‘Kush’, had its World Premiere at the Venice International Film Festival 2013, where it won the ‘Orizzonti Award for Best Short Film’. The film was also shortlisted for the Academy Award for ‘Best Live Action Short’ in 2014 and won over 25 international awards and the National Award in 2013. 

Shubhashish chats with Anila Kurian about the filmmaking process and what he hopes to accomplish in the future.

What is ‘Mukti Bhawan’ about? 
It’s a story about a reluctant son who must take his father to Varanasi, where his father believes that he will breathe his last and attain salvation. It’s also a story about a hotel dedicated to people with the same belief — either the guests die in 15 days or they leave.

What inspired you to write the script? 
I have heard of hotels like this in Varanasi and I knew that it had to be explored one day. Going there, meeting the people and understanding their mindset inspired me to write about it. I never thought this will become a film; I had the itch to write about it and I did.

It’s already premiered internationally...
Yes, and the response has been phenomenal. It was great to see the audience moved by the story; they smiled and laughed during certain scenes. At the end of it, many came to give me a hug and even share their personal stories. I’m glad that we have a platform through which local stories are travelling globally.

What do you enjoy most about filmmaking? 
Filmmaking gives me a chance to travel, explore different lifestyles and just enjoy the experience the filmmaker is trying to create. The power of storytelling is amazing. For those couple of hours, you feel less alone. I absolutely love the process of making a film. It’s a great mix between being a kid and running an army.

Movies that have impacted you...
It’s really hard to choose as each of them has its own strength. However, I watched ‘Jurassic Park’ when I was young and that, to me, defined the power of cinema. I also enjoyed ‘The Bicycle Thief’ because of its simplicity and ‘Whiplash’ for the high-energy performance.

Your other interests... 
I love travelling. I’ve always wanted to go scuba diving; hopefully, I can soon. I also love reading, watching movies and attending music festivals.

Where do you see yourself 10 years from now? 
I wish to continue travelling and making films. I hope to complete my dream project by then and also hope that filmmakers get the freedom to do what they want without any restrictions.

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