Interview- Shashanka Ghosh - debutante director
“I want to be a genre breaker”
Shashank Ghosh, the maker of Waisa bhi hota hai is a traveller of sorts. He’s traversed through so many jobs that to profile him becomes difficult. He gives us a detailed account of his life and his unique experience of making the film.
Dad is a chartered accountant so I started off to become one but quit soon enough. I finished my graduation and then became a management student from the university of Jodhpur. Then I started doing leather exports, I was too lazy to hold any job for long. Then a friend told me that since I was such a great bullshitter why didn’t I join advertising in client servicing. So I tried that though I wasn’t sure about anything.
I got the job but then I saw a man in a suit being talked down to by a man in a kurta/pyjama and I wondered how that was possible. I was told it was possible because the kurta/pyjama wearing guy was a copywriter. Then I was asked if I’d like to give a copy test. If I hadn’t been asked I would never have dreamt of it. I did give the test and got a copywriters job for 700 rupees salary.
That was my first break so to speak. That was in Hindustan Thompson. I was then taken into Trikaya Grey went back to HT launched Pepsi and a couple of other brands went off to Hong Kong to do advertising. Just at the end of my tenure there I wrote some scripts for MTV and the director there insisted I make those films. In utter panic I made six films with a man called Mahesh Murthy and all of them won awards wherever they were sent..
Automatically they offered me a job, I took it but I quit because my family didn’t want to stay in Hong Kong. I returned to India and MTV called up and said they were launching in India and would I launch it for them. So I launched MTV. Within seven months Star and MTV broke up and launched Channel V so I launched Channel V in India and stayed on there on and off as their creative director for the next seven years. I steadfastly turned down the GM’s job because I knew that wasn’t what I wanted to do, I preferred to be the Creative head.
I was offered a film by the head of star; I had already done a series called Quickgun Murugan-this was a series of spots on Chanel V and it was said at one time that this pretty much redefined television and viewer sensibility across India. Basically the brief for this was that how d’you indigenize an international music Channel. So a writer called Rajesh Devraj and myself got together and we created this line called ‘we are like this only’. At that point it shook everyone up.
In 1996 the head of star Gary Davy wanted me to make a movie of it-and as usual I said that I cant make a film. He gave me some money and I got a script written but didn’t make it. It was in 2000 that I finally gave in to the demand to become GM- I also set up something called World space a digital audio broadcast station in Bangalore. Dr. Chandrashekhar hijacked me and put me onto this project this digital workstation. I’ve been lucky I think. After one year as GM I quit Channel V took time off drove around the country because I didn’t know what to do.
I always had one fear that I couldn’t write dialogue-. I had never written more than a page. Out of that fear I wrote a script. To my surprise people wanted to make it into a film. But this time I said I’d make it myself.
I didn’t want to make a typical south Bombay film so I worked out commercially relevant genres and decided to make a gangster film. I took the structure from Bollywood and then treated it differently.
I was trying to address many issues from my own experiences. So I tried to see what would happen if an outsider came from a multinational culture rather than a small village into Mumbai. I had my own theory about Bombay that because of it’s geography and whatever it has evolved into, makes strangest people rub shoulders and find likenesses in each other.
The title’wasia bhi hota hai’ is to show a series of incidents that say anything can happen. The story shows how the legendary ganglord gets picked up and is eliminated in a surprise element.
Sandhya Mridul is from TV. Apparently I have a reputation that-I admire strong women. She is a very aggressive and a strong woman. I wanted someone to play a policewoman. And to match Arshad warsi. He’s excellent in the film.
This is not a ‘leading lady leading man’ kind of film there are no songs that they sing. There are songs but they’re sung in a nightclub- there are singers like shibani Kashyap, akilash Rabbi and Sunidhi Chauhan and Bali Brahmbhatt.
I took Vishal and Shekhar –we met through chanel v they met me once and asked me why haven’t you given us anything to do. So I asked them to compose to a specific brief-‘Sufi on guitar’. They did and I was completely blown away. Vishal has written the songs.
Toota toota ek parinda is a fabulous number.
I try to stay away from formulas- that I’d say is my keynote.
I’ve done the film in 2.10 crores which is relatively low budget. Impact films has produced it. Big production houses offered me the money but they wanted big stars and I didn’t want date problems with my first film. But Sameer Gupta raised money and he’s my producer. Both he and I have the same sensibilities.
We both felt that the audience needs a change and there was place for an urban film. And I had my own understanding because I’d worked in Chanel V and in that demograph called 15 to 35 and I know how viable that is. This age group is supposed to be the most adventurous category. They are the ones who take new fare very easily.
Mahima choudhry plays a superstar she plays herself-she’wonderful.
A ganglord has given this producer money because he wants to bed her.And she essays this part beautifully.
The film looks good.I don’t know if I’ve told the story well enough but overall I think it looks fine.
If you have the kind of crew that I did it isn’t difficult to direct. My cameraman is a guy called Andre’ Menezes a first timer again.
I took a bunch of guys who wanted to prove themselves and whose potential I had faith in. So it cost me less to make the film than it might have.Mahesh Bhatt had told me it would cost about four crores. My approach has always been to do stuff out of the box so to speak- to be a genre breaker.
I had budgeted for a forty days shoot but it took 100 days to do the film.