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“Film festivals gave me an audience to test my film”

Hailing from an advertisement background Ashish R Shukla chats with us about how Prague happened

Background

I was a commercial arts student but even back then, I was interested in filmmaking. I had assisted ad filmmaker Prahlad Kakkar but as the 18th assistant director and was appointed by one of his assistants! I worked in the advertising field for six years but after that, I quit.

Short Film

Once I quit advertising, I made a short film, which was watched by Anurag Kashyap. He liked it and he called me to meet him. Kashyap said I should start writing scripts.

On Anurag Kashyap

I told Kashyap I had no knowledge or experience in writing screenplay. So he hired me as creative head on his film Dev D. During that film, I was part of the entire filmmaking process. I also met Rohit Khaitan, who was the associate producer of Dev D.

On Prague

We were working on a project when Rohit visited Prague. He fell in love with the country. When he returned, he wanted me to write a script set in Prague. He wanted to make a dark, mysterious film, a thriller. And I cracked a story which he liked.

Never Been To Prague

I wrote the script based entirely on what I knew of the country from the Internet because I had never visited Prague. So I wondered whether to write a love story, something about the relationship between India and Prague… I finally wrote a story based on this. After that, I visited Prague and incorporated what I learnt there into the script.

On Casting

Actor Chandan Roy Sanyal was a friend. When we were working on the film, I told him he had to act in the film and I wrote the script keeping him in mind. The three other actors in the film are new and had no acting experience. I cast them on the basis of their looks.

Festivals Help

We have been to many film festivals and received some great reviews too. Yes, festivals help small films as it creates a buzz in the festival market. Film festivals gave me an audience to test my film. They are not a biased audience who want action, masala or comedy. They are ready to experiment with good cinema. I didn’t go to festivals to win awards; I went there to test the audience. It becomes a baggage when you start making films, keeping festivals in mind.

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