Shashank Khaitan Curated

Indian Director and Producer

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This profile has been added by users(CURATED) : Users who follow Shashank Khaitan have come together to curate all possible video, text and audio interview to showcase Shashank Khaitan's journey, experiences, achievements, advice, opinion in one place to inspire upcoming directors. All content is sourced via different platforms and have been given due credit.

  • Economic divide between lovers, feudal mindsets, patriarchy, love fraught with social tension – what keeps drawing you to these themes?

    Because I see these things happening all around me. Patriarchy, feudalism, and women continuing to fight these for equal opportunities are realities in 2018. Additionally, caste and class issues are equally pertinent. It is important to voice these things so that people can examine themselves. My films circle around certain things because they disturb me as a person. When I travel all over India and speak to people, even those close to me, I see how these issues continue to be relevant. So I feel I should have a voice on them, sometimes in small and sometimes in big ways.

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  • How was it getting two untested leads, coming from privileged backgrounds, to sink their teeth into a story like this?

    Well, Ishaan has seen a fair amount of struggle in life, so it would be unfair to think he is privileged. The process began almost a year before I started shooting the film in December last year. I met Ishaan and Janhvi in January just before the release of Badrinath Ki Dulhania. I started spending a lot of time with them to know what they are made up of. I wanted to know their strengths and their weaknesses. Once Badri released, I started explaining to them the space of my movie. One of the things we did was to take them to Udaipur. They spent some 15 days to understand the vibe of the city. They spent time meeting local people, eating local food, and understanding the city till the point it became their city. They learned the socio-economic structure that their characters belong to. Understanding where the pride of Udaipur comes from, and how its people react to certain situations, was important. Once the script was ready, four-five months before shooting, we got down to working on how their characters would behave, speak, and what their inter-personal relationships would be like.

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  • What do you make of the allegation against Bollywood regarding the airbrushing of small-town India?

    Movies are fictional. I might have one perspective on a story or a place in a movie. Someone else will have another. Anurag Kashyap makes a movie on Mumbai and he makes Black Friday (2007). Ayan Mukerji makes a movie on Mumbai but he makes Wake Up Sid (2009). The beauty of movies is that two different directors can make different movies centred in the same city.

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  • How do you deal with criticism?

    When you are making art that is meant for public consumption, you have to stay open to all criticism. None of the criticism is bothers me. I am very sure and very proud of what I have made.

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  • Do you think the criticism Dhadak received was justified? 

    I am not in a position to say whether the criticism is justified. When a trailer comes out, it has only a few things that people see and react to. But when people will see Dhadak, they will see the larger story. One of the criticisms is that we have glamourised the story. Well, we have set the film in Udaipur, and Udaipur is just a pretty city. You cannot change that. We haven’t glamourised anything. I have made an honest film.

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  • Do you think the criticism Dhadak received was justified? 

    I am not in a position to say whether the criticism is justified. When a trailer comes out, it has only a few things that people see and react to. But when people will see Dhadak, they will see the larger story.

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  • Were you expecting the kind of criticism ‘Dhadak’ has received?

    When I chose to make Dhadak, I knew criticism was going to happen, and I am open to it. I have made the film that I believe in. Everyone associated with the film is very happy with what we have done. Anyone who would choose to adapt Sairat in Hindi, including even Nagraj Manjule, would have faced criticism because Sairat is so close to people. I hope that when people see Dhadak, they realise that it’s the most sincere and honest tribute one could give to the original.

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  • Does ‘Dhadak’ deal with caste just as ‘Sairat’ does?

    Dhadak definitely deals with caste, class, and socio-economic disparities. These things are woven into the fabric of our society, and unfortunately, we haven’t been able to overcome them. And when you talk about any one of them, you need to talk about all three.

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  • Why did you set ‘Dhadak’ in Udaipur and Kolkata?

    Because I am familiar with these two places. I am a Marwari, a Rajasthani. I was born in Kolkata and spent a lot of time with my family there. Kolkata has a huge Rajasthani population. And I know Udaipur really well, having travelled to Rajasthan extensively. Besides knowing these two cities well, another reason for choosing them for Dhadak is that they are visually and linguistically so different from each other.

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  • While writing ‘Dhadak’, were you wary of departing from the much-loved original? Did you rein yourself in?

    Not at all. I react to the story I want to tell. Once I decided to adapt Sairat, and base the story and its characters in Udaipur, then it was important to follow that graph. If that required moving away from the original, then I did, because my story is about these characters from Rajasthan. You cannot be untrue to the characters and the region you have chosen. I didn’t get caught up with the thought of, should I make a Bollywood film or should I stay true to Sairat? What was important was staying true to myself and the story I am telling.

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  • Why did you remake ‘Sairat’?

    Firstly, I want to clarify that Dhadak is an adaptation and not a remake. There are things that we have done differently from Sairat in Dhadak. At the same time, we have, hopefully, maintained the essence of Sairat. Sairat has been told multiple times. We have seen such love stories with tragic endings like Ek Duje Ke Liye, Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak and all the Romeo and Juliet-inspired movies. But how Nagraj Manjule chose to tell that story and the uniqueness he brought to the film really inspired me. It resonated with me so much that I wanted to express the story in a similar but different way. That was my starting point for writing Dhadak.

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  • You are also a producer now. In what ways have your responsibilities changed?

    I’ve been a producer from a very different perspective when it comes to Bhoot: Part One.  My experience as a filmmaker has really helped but I’ve tried to pass it on to the talent I am working with. Bhanupratap Singh, who is making Bhoot, was also my assistant when working on Humpty Sharma together. We were also batch-mates in film school. I’ve tried to just keep speaking about the importance of budgets being planned, how effectively we can make the film and give as much creative feedback as possible right from the scripting stage. So yes, the responsibilities have changed and it’s interesting to see someone else put the film together, whereby he has creative freedom, but at the same time it’s not something you want to interfere with. I’m trying to use all the ethics I’ve learnt about business and creativity to draw the fine line between being a director and producer. 

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  • Your movies also seem to highlight social issues through ‘Masala’ entertainment. As a director, how do you strike that perfect balance?

    I don’t know if it’s something which I do purposely but I always feel that anyone who is going to be relevant must speak about a topic that is relevant in our society. One does not really need to hit a point home because I feel anyone who is pointed a finger at, their reaction is not usually positive.  If I bring highlight a social issue, I need to do it subtly and be able to present some humour with it – so the audience can feel comfortable and understand my perspective. I have grown up with the 90s cinema so that is an integral part of my filmmaking, especially when it comes to the song and dance aspect.

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  • There is always a tyrannical/strict father in your movies. What drives you to include such characters?

    I’ve had no such experiences in my family where women are tremendously respected. In fact, they are the most balanced. I’ve actually grown up in a household where women call the shots. But when I was growing up, whether it was the relationships or travelling, I realised that the patriarchal system exists in India in a very big way. It is not just a rural phenomenon and exists in the metros as well. It was very fascinated as I had not been brought up in a home like that. My father is the kindest, gentle soul ever. So it was intriguing for me to explore that side of human emotions because I would see my friends react differently to their fathers. DDLJ was the reason why I wanted to join the movies. I watched it as a young boy in Nashik and it made me realise how cinema can be magical. Though I did try to change the approach of Ashutosh Rana in Humpty Sharma in comparison to an Amrish Puri in DDLJ.  I thought Ashutosh was still a modern father as he tries to balance his ideologies by giving his children equal rights and opportunities.

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  • Your movies always have a rural-Indian touch to them. How does your personal life impact the backdrops/settings for your films?

    Because I’ve grown up in Nashik and pretty much all the smaller towns in India have one unifying factor that the metros are slightly different in the way relationships operate. That’s true for everywhere in the world. Like in the UK, London operates differently to all other counties nearby similarly New York in comparison to other States in America. Due to the fact that I’ve had the experience of growing up in a smaller town and then trying to work in Mumbai, I understand the difference between the paces of life. I use the advantage of my education and wherever I set the film’s backdrop, I reflect back on the values and relationships that I witnessed in Nashik. So I try to adapt that experience and try to find the balance between those languages, relationships and characters. Ultimately, my attempt is to always try and tell a story which the whole country can relate to. I do not try too hard to make it effective, I just try my best to reflect back on my experiences.

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