Sunday, October 12, 2014

Film making is a powerful medium to communicate unique and powerful ideas, says Jay Bhansali

My experience as a writer, director, filmmaker and as one of the eminent jurists on many International film festivals has been and is exciting, mysterious and a great learning. For quite some time I was looking forward to meet someone who has carved a niche in this field cos he found his calling, unlike other young filmmakers that treat cinema as a mere profession or as a hobby. And here I am today with Jay Bhansali who co-founded Veda Productions and looks at film making as a powerful medium to clearly communicate with unique and powerful ideas. In a free-wheeling conversation, Jay gives an insight into his works, his production company and what all it took him to be there where he is today.

Films & TV World: Tell us about yourself and how did you get into filmmaking?
Jay Bhansali: Honestly speaking, I'm a dreamer, an aspirer. To me film making is projecting your most procured thoughts on the big screen. I started off as an assistant with my uncle's production house. Soon after which, I stepped out, got hold of a few like-minded people and set off the radar!

I was always inclined towards films, stories and music. The media industry had it own impact on me since childhood like it has on millions of others like me. Life hasn't been that easy though. It had its own ups and downs. My dad always motivated me too be a part of something which influences the human race in terms of entertainment. I was just 10 when I lost my dad and after that life has been different. The life which people might experience it when they are 25 yrs old; I did when I was 15.

In a way, you can say life has taught you a lot.
Yeah, you can say, I have learnt a lot. Life teaches you many lessons. I always wanted to be an actor since childhood until I was exposed to the entire process of filmmaking. I thought to myself, when I have so many stories to say, emotions to express and connect with people, than why not say them through my work. My uncle Manish Jain has been my mentor. He plays a key role in what I am today. I used to assist my uncle since I was in 9th std. But due to certain misunderstandings I was fired from his company along with a couple of my pals. And can say that was the turning point. We came together and that gave rise to Veda Productions. Just to add, I am a dropout. Yes, I dropped out of the college in my final year of BMM and started my company Veda Productions with my partner Shristi Jain; when I was in my second year. Since then it’s only growing and no looking back.

So you found your calling in filmmaking in a novel way.
Yes. I always wanted to be a part of the process of making films as it always excited me but didn’t know what role I wanted to play in the same. But I remember once when I was in 9th std, I was just randomly walking on the road noticing people and observing their movements. Every eye had a story to say. Every wrinkle has loads of history stored in its dark thin lines. That one hour walk really inclined me towards telling their stories to the world through my lens. "We all are story tellers and we all have different mediums to convey them to the world… For some its painting, for some it’s dancing and for me its filmmaking”.

Who are the main brains behind Veda Productions
It was founded by me and Shristi Jain in 2010 with a straight forward philosophy - Create simple yet visually stunning communication and this vision will served well. And this is exactly what happened. In a short span of time, we now have a no of commercials / music videos / event films / prints / corporate to our credit. Veda has also established itself as a premier production house in India and we are pleased to submit our proposal with the words “simple”, “innovative” and “captivating” at the core of every project goal that we are committed to; thereby making the most of each project's time and budgetary constraints. It takes vision and imagination to make creative use of all of these tools - and this is our craft. This is also what we call the Veda Expertise.

It’s harder to get started or to keep going?
I wouldn't compare. It can be hard to begin and keep it going both, depending on your team members and your passion as a team! The only times we've had a serious fallback are times when the team doesn't fall on the same track of thoughts and decisions.

Tell us about the music video Chaandaniya. Why did you want to re-make this song?
Chaandaniya, when this song came to us for making a video on it, we were very skeptical about how and what kind of treatment and story will we be giving to it as it’s a happy sad song! Well that was a challenge for the entire team and somehow we thought of breaking the myth that every sad song in Bollywood is about heartbreak and here we are. Kudos to the team Veda.

Why this particular song? How did you prepare for it?
The choice of the song was by the artist. She wanted to recreate the song again in her own voice throughout as in the movie, it was a duet. The song was blissful and appealed to us too. The moment the artist came to us with the song choice in mind and explained to us what she wanted, the very first thing that struck us was the location. Location is the most important aspect for a cinematographer and Swapn Gupta did an amazing job by making my vision a visual treatment to the same. In the end we all work as a team. We as a team, have particular duties assigned. But I ensure that I'm paying attention to everything. As a director and an associate cinematographer, one of my most premium jobs is behind the camera!

How involved were you in the editing process?
I always let my editor Nikhil sen make his own version of the video based on the brief given by me. He puts his fresh vision into the video and then once the rough cut is made we both sit together and mix both our visions and finalise the video. 

Was it done just the way you conceptualized or it could have been a bit better?
It was executed exactly the same way as we had pictured it. But again, there is always scope for improvement! Film making is a learning process; we continue to learn moving ahead with time.

What films have been the most inspiring or influential and why?
I’m totally influenced by the way Korean, Fillipino (Philippines) and Iranian films are made. They infuse emotions and every of those minute details in every nuance which communicates the emotions very splendidly and takes the viewers on a different level. Watching those kind of movies make you want a film like those. My all time favourites are films like Man of Honours, Children of Heaven, Jobs, and the Hindi Lootera.

What makes a film great for you?
If a film makes me cry, laugh, think, and connect with characters and the story, its great for me. Also good cinematography - the visual execution of the story matters a lot too. Its should be a treatment to the eyes.

What's next for you?
Working on a couple of more scripts. One of my new music video “MERA JAHAAN” to be released in october. Its a song which is extremely close to my heart and the entire team Veda. I’m sure you guys are bona love it too.

Any advice to one who wants to have a life creating a film
You have a lot of stories around and within you. Just tell them to the world and be the crazy one by not thinking twice before putting forth your vision as you should always be true to your characters and story.

Do have a look at the music video "Chaandaniya Reprise" from 2 States sung by Yashita Sharma and Music by Shankar Ehsaan Loy. Produced by Veda Productions, this music video is directed by Jay Bhansali.

Hope his journey is able to convey to other young filmmakers that cinema cannot be treated as a mere profession or as a hobby. It is a powerful medium that can influence the lives of many. Hence rather than focusing on being there done that, do strive to capture and focus to where you’re calling is. And be rest assured that not only you, even others will definitely love your work.
Mohan Das
Guest Editor

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