Blog / Director's Note - 2 Story Of The Film, Film - Checkmate
Sunday, 25 October 2009 at 01:28
Director's Note - 2 STORY OF THE FILM, Film - Checkmate
I didn’t think of the story before writing the screenplay (script for screen). It was the first time I was writing a screenplay directly without any story material in hand, so my life and my feelings were my materials. But it was not an easy task even if I was writing from bits and pieces of my life. It was painful, like the legendary Phoenix set to flames at the beginning of a story and rising from its ashes in a rebirth at the end of it. It was challenging and very adventurous. Writing this screenplay was as if each alphabet is my breath, each word my heart beat and each sentence one memory lifted from my life.
I was writing, being an audience at the same time, seeing the film as I wrote on. I avoided clichés or a conventional story structure, things we take for granted like ‘Three act structure’, ‘Hero’s Journey’ etc. I avoided imparting it any preconceived shape or structure and had no fear doing so. That is why I said that it was a challenge and an adventures experience, an experience of overcoming any fear, whatsoever. Be it fear of failure, fear of loss or the fear of losing reputation. I told myself, “Forget the fear and write the film”. I was thoroughly enjoying every new progress in the story. Whenever I felt that the story was drifting in the conventional direction, I turned it and pushed the characters into some unknown territory, unknown to them, unknown to me as the writer and also as an audience. And then, a search began with the film’s characters and I followed them as an audience to discover what they discovered.
This is the fastest and shortest screenplay I have ever written. Many unit members were not too sure about it. Here I don’t mean to say that they didn’t like the story with certainty. On listening to the story, they just could not decide or be sure about whether they liked it or not.
That is a natural response of human mind when it encounters something different and avoids it because of an inborn fear of novelty. Our brains are structured to fear anything new as a new thing is perceived as a danger. I would like to share a real incident to explain this phenomenon. Once, a tribal girl from the deep forests of Nagaland was brought to the city where she saw an electric bulb for the first time. She immediately got sacred as the bulb lit the room. But later through regular interaction with the city folk, she understood the phenomenon and later put up a bulb in her own forest home.
Same thing happened with the cast and crew. As we were shooting day after day, I started to get compliments from the unit members that they liked the story. And these were not mere words. I didn’t really pay much heed to them initially, but what made me believe them after a while was the remarkable involvement of the whole unit in the shooting. We were always shooting at night, Sound Recordist Rajan was suffering from cold, actor Vikas Katyal was not well too, Cinematographer Susheel didn’t get enough sleep, Assosiate Director Sudhir Raut met with an accident while returning to his home from the shoot and many more such problems occurred. But nobody ever complained, everybody always came on time. This made me believe in my film’s script. Or put differently, the script was indeed good and the unit members liked it and their appreciation was seen in their passion and commitment for their work. At the end of the shoot Susheel (Cinematographer) complimented the story by comparing it with the story of another famous film.
During the post-production stage of color correction, the editor, a friend, saw the film continuously for twenty days and commended it, saying that there are many layers in the film. He said that at first he didn’t get much of it, but later he started actually appreciating and enjoying it. His remark was, “You like this film as much as you watch it.” I have got similar responses earlier too from my friends for two of my other short films.
We showed the first cut (edited version) of the film to a daily-wage worker in a small workshop who would not understand a single word written here. We might simply call him uneducated or illiterate. He might not understand English, but knows a language much more advanced, a language boundless of the urban structures of thinking that we are used to. It is the language of intuitions, of signs and symbols. He laughed riotously watching the comedy scenes of the film and enjoyed the film very much.
Recently the actress of the film Yashika and her mother watched the film’s final cut at my home. They had a great time laughing out loud at the same comedy scenes at which most of the audiences laugh, including the illiterate daily-wage worker.
Finally I would like to say that it’s not only me or my few friends alone for whom the film is made. It is for all people, for all generations and for all the times to come. I hope that I would succeed in communicating with the people. For me film is yet another medium for communicating. I make films because I have an urge to communicate and I hope that with this film I will certainly communicate.
Thanks to my friend Kushal Sharma for Editing this note.