Being a director is about having a voice coming from experiences: Prashant Nair

Prashant Nair
Prashant Nair

NEW DELHI: Though individual stories had been floating in his head for quite a while, but he could never figure out how to use them. One night, scanning the Internet, he ended up reading Nehru’s speech — ‘Tryst With Destiny‘. Moved by some of the principles and goals set out in that speech, filmmaker Prashant Nair ended up reframing those stories to fit under a common umbrella in which they collectively explore how far the country has come vis-a-vis that promise. “Each of the three stories presents a different set of characters from wildly diverse backgrounds as they struggle for control over their destinies in contemporary India,” says Nair, whose movie ‘Tryst With Destiny’ had its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival, founded by actor Robert De Niro and won the ‘Best Screenplay’ award there.

“To be clear, the idea was not to condemn anyone or anything in specific e but to simply immerse the audience in the day to day lives of three sets of characters and contrast that with the promises made in the speech,” says Nair about the film that boasts of actors like Ashish Vidyarthi, Vineet Kumar, and Kani Kusurti among others.

Now writing a series on the Uphaar cinema tragedy (New Delhi, 1997) for a major OTT platform, he says that though the first screening with the cast and crew together with an audience is a necessary reward for everyone involved with the film e and festivals are the perfect platform for that, but beyond that, people across the globe should be able to watch his films whenever it suits them and however they like. “So, I really don’t feel like the film is diminished in any way considering that I am believer in the streaming experience.”

Nair, who made his debut with ‘Delhi in a Day’, shot at a budget of just over Rs 50 lakh admits that though he had never been on anything resembling a proper film set before that, (“not even to visit and it was the first screenplay I ever wrote”), he got a chance to work with some excellent actors. “Everyone was so supportive as I fumbled through it. I made it without second-guessing myself too much and with a certain naivete. It really taught me a lot about what I needed to learn more about so it’ll always be special.”

No, he does not miss going to a film school though he does regret not having had the chance to assist directors or work on sets in different capacities. “I have always felt that being a director is all about having a unique voice. That is something one gets mostly through the experiences life. Embracing that is what I think gets you to the right place while the craft itself can be learned.”

Born to diplomat parents who moved across the world, travelling soon became passion for the filmmaker. Insisting that his travels dictates the themes he likes to explore, Nair, who is also slowly developing his first English language feature, adds, “While I have found inspiration for my stories in India, I have always tried to tell them in a way that’s accessible to audiences all around the world. More than anything, I would say all that moving around has definitely convinced me that what we have in common with each other far exceeds what separates us.”

Interestingly, Nair was the only male director on the sets of the series ‘Made in Heaven’ (other directors being Zoya Akhtar, Nitya Mehra, Alankrita Shrivastava). Talking about the experience, he laughs, “It didn’t occur to me till much later. The three other directors are such unique people with their own voices that it definitely overshadows what sex they are. That being said, in retrospect, it was interesting to be the only male in the room when we were tossing around ideas about Tara and Adil and Faiza and how their relationship developed and all the various nuances and implications. Probably every guy should have the experience of being the only male in such a conference room at some point in his life.”

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