Filmmaker Amit Kumar, whose long-in-waiting film Monsoon Shootout is set to release next week, tells Suranjana Biswas the Indian audience is finally ready to watch his film
Monsoon Shootout was screened at Cannes in 2013. Why did it take so long for the film to get a release date?
Basically, this film didn’t have mainstream stars in it. But, this year, we had films which had very different content and didn’t feature big stars. The climate for this kind of film was very different four years ago. Not that we didn’t try it; we went to Cannes and we travelled for about a year. We were just waiting for the right time, for a time when the audience would be interested in a film like this.
This is your first feature film. How does that make you feel? Are you nervous about your product?
To be really honest, I am not nervous. I was six or seven-years-old when I dreamt of making movies. Even when I was in college, in the ’90s, it wasn’t a very big industry then. I have made a short film called The Bypass and it did quite well. I see things from a different perspective, everything has its own time, you get what you get and you don’t get what you don’t get. I am confident about the story. I have watched the film and, visually, it looks very nice. I think it has great music and all the elements to tell a story in layers. The Indian audience is very intelligent and I am sure they will like it.
The trailer looks menacing and spine-chilling. Where did you get the idea for this film?
I don’t know where the basic idea came from, but when I was in film school, I had a visual of a guy standing in the way of another, hesitating to shoot. In terms of the structure of the film and choices, they came from my own life. I think we all have to make a life-altering choice at some point; I certainly have. All I did was add more dramatic circumstances.
Do you believe film festivals help garner a lot of attention from the audience for a film?
I think it depends on what festival it is screened at. Certain sections of the audience know about festivals, and then there is Cannes, which has all the hype and glamour. But this means the film has certain qualities that helped it qualify for the festivals.
Films nowadays are promoted on a large scale but the team of Monsoon Shootout preferred to keep it low-profile. How do you plan to create buzz around the film?
There is nothing you can do for an indie film except present the trailer to the world and excite the audience enough to come and watch it. It is a good film; also we have to keep in mind the budget and what it allows in terms of marketing and publicity. Beyond that, one can only trust the content of the film to generate more views.
What is the reaction you have received from the people around you so far, especially after the release of a one-of-a-kind, interactive trailer?
A couple of my friends and family chose only one option from the trailer, and want to find out the other option in theatres. It is interesting to watch a film, knowing one side of the story, and finding about the other side only after watching the film. So this, kind of, serves the purpose.
The cast looks on-point. How did you get all the actors on board?
I have known Nawaz from earlier, when I made The Bypass. The moment I started firming up the idea of Monsoon Shootout, I knew I wanted Nawaz to play the gangster, Shiva. It is interesting… When I first narrated the film, he said he wanted to play the lead. I told him, for me, you’re pure evil, you’re Shiva.
He also has the ability to make people wonder whether he is really evil. That’s a tricky casting. The moment he saw what Shiva’s journey was all about, he said he was on! When I looked at Vijay, I looked him in the eye and I knew he would be playing the cop. Everybody around me was not convinced about him; everyone felt he didn’t have the physique of a cop. For me, physicality doesn’t matter; the eyes are the most important thing.
What are your future projects?
I am already working on a show for Amazon Prime, a supernatural thriller. I will be directing and producing it. I also have a few feature scripts that I hope will see the light of day.