A revolutionary at heart and an outspoken person, Nitin Chandra - director of Deswa (bhojpuri) doesn’t mind calling spade a spade. Visionary, courageous and blatantly honest, Nitin is the brother of Bollywood actress Neetu Chandra. Not that he needs her name to be known in film circles. A path breaker, who took the Bhojpuri film “Deswa” to the International Film Festival of India, is a big follower of Italian Neo realistic Cinema and greatly influenced by work of Iranian film makers like Majid Majidi and Abbas Kiarostami. He also appreciates film makers like Ashutosh Gowariker for their art of making films on well researched scripts and not being a DVD director. In an extensive talk with Films & TV Editor Soham, Nitin Chandra bares his heart out..
Films & TV: Please tell us about yourself.
Nitin Chandra: I come from a deep rooted socio - cultural background, from a family of freedom fighters which makes me revolutionary at heart. I call spade a spade and don’t know how to keep everyone happy. I am totally into Bihar and
Bihar is in me. I am made up of air and mud of that place. After passing out from University of Pune, I kept on exploring more and more of Bihar and made giant documentaries on it. Working toward the development of Bihar through Cinema as a medium is mission of my life. My friends think that I am hardliner Bihari but I know that I am Indian first. I have very radical vision about things and I often talk about absolute changes, the change we need.
Films & TV: What made you chose the one that you are doing now - direction?
Nitin Chandra: I feel any form of art, be it music, painting, cinema, etc chooses you, its not we who will chose them, the medium chooses its people who will take it forward and enrich it. So, after a lot of soul searching and struggling from engineering to MBA to designing etc, when I came near Cinema, Cinema chose me, I feel I am complete now. The void in my heart is filled and now I know that this is what I was made for.
Films & TV: What's been your most memorable moment, as a director, so far?
Nitin Chandra: The most memorable moment was when I was shooting with flood victims in the Bagmati region of
Bihar in 2008. That one moment changed my life forever and also my perspective. I saw the abject human conditions of this country vis-à-vis the fortune spent on games and cricketers in this country. Here our government spends several thousands crores on a games with so much of corruption, in the same country we have people who will soon be eating sand to survive in flood regions of Kosi in My Bihar. I realized that we living in our convenient zones in are either ignorant, or in total denial or totally insensitive about the people of our own country. Be it farmers of Vidarbha or Flood regions of Metro City Bihar, we need to look into it find solution.
|Nitin with Ashish Vidyarthi during the shooting of Deswa|
Films & TV: What do you think of today’s' trends in “Bhojpuri Cinema”?
Nitin Chandra: In last one year, there has been some positivity in term of quality and budget. Market has grown. But unless Bhojpuri touches its root it will not be able to add the educated and middle class audience, who can really pull the industry to a greater limit. The people, who are making Bhojpuri first need to love this language, understand and respect its culture.
Bihar and Eastern UP, which is already economically and educationally backward, can not afford to lose its cultural fabric through the regressive and distasteful cinema. Cinema is a reflection of society but Bhojpuri is not reflecting the correct picture of Bhojpuriya society. As it is, the people of this region are scorned off all over the country and our cinema also puts up an ugly picture, making the image even worse. So, the portrayal of Bhojpuriya society through this kind of trend is totally unacceptable.
Films & TV: How does it feel to be the path breaker to take Deswa - A Bhojpuri Film to IFFI?
Nitin Chandra: I feel proud. I feel proud that I made my language and culture feel proud on me. I am happy that I am trying to bring change. I am glad that the first film in bhojpuri to be showcased at IFFI was Deswa, on 2nd December 2010 at 41st International Film Festival of India,
Films & TV: How was it going from a total unknown to becoming a celebrity? Has it changed the fabric of your daily life?
Nitin Chandra: My head is held high but feet are properly grounded. I know and remember where I come from. I have certain social and moral responsibilities. Fabric has not changed a bit, I am all the same. Ya, I do get a lot of calls regarding business and appreciation. Getting famous and becoming popular or a celebrity is not what I am looking forward for, all I want is to contribute to cinema and society through my films.
Films & TV: Who are your inspirations / role models?
Nitin Chandra: My mother, my sister and Environmentalist Dinesh Kumar Mishra, I call him Guruji. When it comes to cinema, I am a big follower of Italian Neo realistic Cinema and influenced by work of Iranian film makers like Majid Majidi and Abbas Kiarostami. In
I appreciate film makers like Ashutosh Gowariker, who is honest and never tries to copy stories. India
Films & TV: What is your next project? Where do you see yourself / your work in next 3 years from now?
Nitin Chandra: There are few projects in pipeline. I am researching on some stories, but which one I am going to direct is matter of finance. The one which I am keen on doing is period biopic based in
Bihar which has got hindi, bhojpuri and a little bit bangla in it and I would be asking some mainstream hindi actors and some bhojpuri actors to do it. Its renaissance time in bhojpuri and would seek everyone's support to take bhojpuri to national level and then world level. But most important is to add bhojpuri speaking educated people who never watch bhojpuri films.
Films & TV: What’s in your personal DVD collection? What is your favourite movie?
Nitin Chandra: Forrest Gump, Kagaz ke Phool, Love Caution Lust by Wong kar wai, Bandit Queen, The Social Network, are some of the films in my collection. I read more of film and other literature books than watch. I like Children of Heaven By Majidi, The Bicycle Thief by Vittorio Da Sica, David Fincher's Seven, Godard's Breathless, Prakash Jha's Damul and Kundan Kumar's Ganga Maiyya Tohre Piyari Chadhaibo, a bhojpuri film and also Natrang in Marathi. There are many others too.
Films & TV: Tell us more about your typical day. What do you do when you are not shooting?
Nitin Chandra: Well, Either I am reading, writing or thinking. I am lazy kind of person when not working. But when I am working I would not sleep for 3 days at a stretch. I have recently started Yoga, so every morning it is Yoga for me. I would spend a lot of time on internet, searching things I don’t know about and would often get lost in it. I would sleep by 12 midnight. I am unmarried so things are easy for me.
Films & TV: If you didn't become a director, what everyday occupation would you have liked?
Nitin Chandra: I would have become a school teacher which I still want to do and I often go to colleges and institute to talk on cinema.
Films & TV: What are your best skills? What is your major weakness?
Nitin Chandra: I think visualisation is my best skill. I can hardly say no to people, that is my weakness.
Films & TV: One thing that you would like to change from your past.
Nitin Chandra: I wish I was born in
Bihar. But unfortunately this can not be changed. May be in next life (smiles)
Nitin Chandra: Last book I read was "Purvi Ke dhah" by Jauhar Shafiabadi, its bhojpuri literature. Last film I saw was King's speech.
Films & TV: Tell us one thing about yourself that no one knows?
Nitin Chandra: Ha ha...I will tell you two. I hate mobile phones and I am a facebook addict.
Films & TV: Sum yourself up in three words.
Nitin Chandra: "Visionary... Courageous... Honest" - best describe me....