Humaramovie’s anthology of shorts, Shor Se Shuruaat, has premiered at the 18th Mumbai Film Festival (MAMI).

Snehita Kothari chats with one of the 7 directors, Supriya Sharma, the mentee of acclaimed director, Nagesh Kukunoor. An ardent admirer of her mentor’s films likes 3 Deewarein and Hyderabad Blues, Supriya speaks about her film, Dhvani, starring Sanjai Mishra (as a criminal on death row) and Vijay Maurya (as a cop).

Please elaborate your journey of making Dhvani.

When I was asked to be part of the project, I was really excited. I think it is a great concept to be a part of. When we were given the theme, we took time off to think and lots of ideas cropped up into our minds. We eventually narrowed it down. This journey has been the most exciting and challenging one for me. It was like my own weeklong film school where I learned a lot of things you can learn once you take the plunge. We took favours from many people we knew. Getting so many people together for any project is not the easiest thing; it is more challenging when your friends and co-workers decide to take the journey with you because they trust you. As gratifying as it is, it is also an amazing responsibility to take charge and make a film.

Please talk about your interpretation of the theme, “Shor” (noise) in your short film.

When I first heard that our theme is ‘Shor‘, I thought it was really challenging as it gives us a large spectrum and can be interpreted in many different ways. As I started to go through the ideas I had again and again, I realized that the word is often used in a negative context. I wanted to remove that feeling from the word shor because I think that sound, hustle-bustle and any chaos that we often seek to avoid is in fact the element that adds life to everything. When you experience darkness, silence and loneliness, that’s when you know the true value of ‘Shor‘.  So I wanted to tell a story of someone who has been deprived of what we take for granted. If you look around your surroundings, it’s like a visual, but only when you add sound to it, there is life.

Tell us more about your story.

It’s a story of hope; it’s about a man who is locked up in prison for several years and is to be hanged shortly. We see and follow his last few days, what is it that he feels and how he perceives the sounds of life for one last time.

What were the challenges you faced during the making?

There were many challenges — right from picking up the story that felt most honest to me to seeing the idea come to life. My story unfolds in a closed space of a cell. To create that was a big challenge, but I have my production designer Sandeep Ravade to thank for it.

Talk about your learning experience from the film?

For me, it was like a 3-day film school. Until you are thrown into the pool, you don’t know how to swim. I think I have not just learned things as a director, but also as a human being, in terms of dealing with people and being responsible for them. I think I learnt a lot about managing people, and that’s my biggest takeaway. Also, I think directing actors is an integral part of filmmaking. As a director, you can have your own understanding of how a character needs to be played, but at the same time it is also given that your actors have their own interpretation too. So, to come onto the same page by communicating and to express every emotion to its best ability is something that I learned in a major way.

How was your experience of working with Humaramovie?

It has been easy and fun. Of course, it gets challenging sometimes because there were seven filmmakers and we all have to be on the same page. But I think the whole team has been involved and has supported us in every step. They are always accessible and approachable. It has been a good experience.

Tell us about your experience of working with Nagesh Kukunoor. How did he guide you on Dhvani?

Working with Nagesh Kukunoor has been a big part of my life. It has been an honour to work with him and closely watch him direct films or plan shoots, because he is one of the most organised, well-thought out people I have come across. He makes sure his team is efficient because of his passion for the project. When this project started, I knew that I had the security of his invaluable feedback and support throughout. He helped me in every step of the way, especially helping my script find a structure and essence. I think he steered me to the right direction when I was not making sensible decisions.