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    Talking about his new book, Director’s Diaries, Rakesh Bakshi shares four lessons from Bollywood’s edgiest filmmakers

    RAKESH Anand Bakshi’s idea to pen a book about the experiences of different directors, stemmed from his own struggle when he could not become one himself. A wish list of 30 directors was narrowed down to a modest 12 and after numerous sessions with each, spanning over four years, the Director’s Diaries was brought out this May. Recounting his initiation into the world of cinema, as an assistant to Subhash Ghai in 1998 with the film Taal, and later on Yaadein and Kisna, Bakshi says, “The world is quite different from the times my father (Anand Bakshi, the lyricist) jumped into his dinghy to sail to Mumbai without oars and sails. Back then, aspiring filmmakers could walk into a producer or directors office or wait to ‘bump’ into them at studios and get their  first break.  An assistant’s learning graph shot up faster because work responsibilities were not demarcated as clearly as they are today.’’
    Now people from non-film backgrounds lack connections to get jobs as assistants, so it all comes down to networking. ‘‘Back then, producers heard your stories out, but today, and it’s the corporate producers in particular, are only concerned with numbers,”he adds. With the likes of Subhash Ghai, Farah Khan, Santhosh Sivan and Ashutosh Gowarikar  featured, here is our pick of film making from the book.

    Take note

    Television is the stepping stone
    to cinema: Anurag Basu
    ‘‘If I had not done TV, I would never have reached here today. I learnt the value of making a budget, and sticking to it from working in television. In TV, you are constantly running against time, because the show is on-air, so it makes you think on your
    feet day in and day out.’’

    Have a story to tell: Imtiaz Ali
    ‘‘I believe direction is not about knowing everything or even anything in particular. It is largely about having a story to tell, and those stories will not come from textbooks. They will come to you from your experiences, your perception of life. To engage with life is important. The more you know, the more you can give your films.’’

    Your film must provoke a reaction: Vishal Bharadwaj
    ‘‘I think I like to raise questions in my viewer’s mind through my stories. I want them to question me, themselves, society, the state, whatever the film’s subject is. In that sense, I must add, a director is a very brave being—the bravest in the filmmaking fraternity, if I may be allowed this arrogance. Because, it is he who stands exposed, emotionally, through his stories, his films.’’

    Mainstream cinema can be off beat too:Zoya Akhtar ‘‘None of my work is very conventional, but it is not exactly outside the mainstream either. I want to be in the mainstream but I want to say things that affect me. I want to put my value system out there. That is the only thing that will make me different from others. I may succeed or fail and it is scary—but I must.’’

    The book is published by HarperCollins. Rs 350. Details: Amazon.in

    Niranjana Hariharanandanan

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