Movie plots and market ploys

Saurabh Varma

The world of cinema is as much a mind game as it is a marketing one, says Mickey Virus director Saurabh Varma

Saurabh Varma has been in the film industry for the last 20 years, but clearly, it’s the last couple that have been the most exciting for the writer-director.

Since his hit film Mickey Virus in 2013, Varma has worked on 7 hours to Go (2016), Solid Patels (unreleased), a music video for Transporter Refuelled, a short film titled Girl in Red (2016), and is currently shooting a web movie titled Lonely Girl, scheduled to be released in March this year.

He talks to Hello Bollywood about life since Mickey Virus.

What was the most important lesson you have learned about movie-making?

It is that you can never take the audience for granted. The new generations of audiences have too many choices and bringing them to the theaters is one of the most difficult jobs for a moviemaker. New filmmakers generally make the mistake of having only manufacturers’ point of view; they also need to understand the end of consumers POV. You have to think of the endgame all the time while making a film.

What makes a film great for you?

There is no formula for making a successful film. I just believe that if you make the film with sincerity and you have the art of telling a good story, the film will be appreciated and you will get more work. The energy of the director culminates down to the whole crew and they join in making an impactful film.

What are some recent films you have found to be inspiring?

A bunch of films that have influenced me recently are Dangal (2016), a film that highlights the fact that actor Aamir Khan is a true leader and works by inspiring and pushing the whole team positively to make a good film. The biopic Neerja (2016) worked for me too because it was a simple heart-warming story, well told. From the Hollywood stables, I have liked the 2016 films Passengers, Arrival, and Sully, and the Netflix series Goliath.

What do you dislike in the working world of cinema?

The excessive marketing budgets have become an entry barrier for Indie filmmakers. Most of the money spent in marketing goes down the drain in promoting the film in the wrong place and in the wrong stream, and the film is not noticed by the real movie going audience. Some marketing outfits are making more money than the filmmakers themselves. The other big problem is piracy.

Is it the filmmaker’s responsibility to find an audience?

A filmmaker’s primary responsibility is to make a damn good film. But nowadays, there is a scarcity of good resources that will align with you to help you market your film and get your audience. So filmmakers have to get involved in the making, marketing and releasing of their films.

What do audiences want?

The audience’s taste changes frequently, so there is no way you can guess what they want. I have been rejecting a lot of scripts because they fall in the category of a formula film that is bound to fail if you try to make it for the sake of making it. A filmmaker should make a film with conviction and sincerity and choose the right team to help him build and make a good film.

What do you love about directing?

The fact that I can create a world I can imagine. Two decades in this business, I still learn something new every day.

What are you working on now?

I am presently working on a web movie called Lonely Girl, a psychological thriller starring Riya Sen and Kyra Dutta.


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