Mahesh Nair is a Writer and Director; he has an excellent record as a documentary Filmmaker and journalist prior to working on feature films. His documentary on Mumbai’s Dabbawalas, which he wrote and directed for BBC World TV, has been internationally acclaimed and is often used as a case study by Indian and International Management students. He had the opportunity to work with one of India’s leading Filmmaker, Mr. Ram Gopal Varma for many years. He was Varma’s Chief Assistant Director and was also the co-writer of Ek. His upcoming film“Accident on Hill Road” is due to be released shortly.
Mr Nair commencing his talk said that the most important factor to be a Filmmaker is the Passion to make films, the burning desire to reach the dreams come what may. It is exactly what drives an individual to a point where the entire focus is shifted to just one goal in life, which in turn can change your destiny. Elaborating on this, he said, “ Everyday when you wake up and think of being a filmmaker and it remains in your mind, that even today, even tomorrow, whenever you wake up and you are not bored, the thought of being a filmmaker excites you and if you are able to maintain it for day in day out….. that is called passion, passion for films and being a filmmaker”. He stated that, as a professional you must be very passionate about your work, and must be sure of your goals in life. Nobody can assure you, but yourself. If you think you have it in you, just absorb it and embrace it so tight that it remains and stick to you as your second skin. Citing his mentor’s example he said that. Mr. Ram Gopal Varma sleeps, drinks and eats Films, for him there is no life beyond Films.
He advised the students to learn the craft and chisel their skills and talents to be finer craftsmen. He said that, craft is something that you learn and acquire through sheer hard work and perseverance. If Filmmaking is your goal, you can learn the craft by watching various genres of films and as students you need to be zealous enough to watch films and try to understand what part of it excites you and bring out the reactions in you. As filmmakers you need to learn to get the effect for films from within. His suggestion to students was to assist directors and filmmakers to learn the craft and be experts in the trade after finishing Film School.
If you are a writer, go about it discover your true calling and write. This also applies to the other facets of your profession, if filmmaking excites you and gives you creative satisfaction, just shoot. Exploring different avenues of your abilities and frequently working on it is an added advantage in possessing your skills. The reaction you get from people helps in building a strong foundation as a filmmaker, it makes you aware of your own pitfalls.
As a filmmaker one should know the process right from the scratch, which involves pre and postproduction work. The entire canvas is based upon strings of various palettes coming together to form a spectacular sight for the world to see. In order to enjoy this view, every feature of filmmaking needs to be finely observed and acted upon with the final outcome in mind, which can be only done if one learns the trade of managing people and conveying exactly what you want to do. If that goal is not achieved then it becomes very difficult to be a filmmaker. If you want to be a filmmaker you need to learn to manage your team. Rapport building is the most essential thing one must learn in this trade and always work with people who are far superior to you, as it helps raising the quality of the films. The process of filmmaking is all about managing people, managing egos and matching your wavelength with like-minded people.
As a filmmaker there has to be something unique about your own film, there should be a part of you in it, personal branding is necessary to be noticed. He further stated that in order to understand your unique quality, you need to get opinions from people who are closest to you as every individual has a different style and that style reflects in your film. He commented on the uniqueness of the styles by saying, “The more unique it is, the more unique your voice is, the more easily it will be heard”.
Rejection is part and parcel of every profession and one must be prepared to accept it and take it with a pinch of salt. It is important to know how to cope up with rejection and not be bogged down by it. Since people have varied opinions about films, you cannot argue on that, it’s all about perception; therefore a vast difference of views would be there. These reactions and opinions help you become a better filmmaker learn to accept rejection and never give up on your passion.
He further started showcasing the clips of his new movie, based on a true story. The reason to display his work was to give an insight to the students about his realistic approach towards making films. He was passionate about making realistic films but was always rejected, but his passion for making films stood strong besides him and kept him going.
He was highly impressed with the infrastructure of Digital Academy - The Film School and stated that. “The academy is well equipped, offering students the opportunity to learn the craft of filmmaking. They just need to learn and face the world to know the reality of filmmaking”. He also mentioned that students were pretty interactive and it’s nice to meet the students and youngsters to get a perspective of life from them.