On the write track

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Back Seat, Front Seat, Driver’s Seat and now with his film Tikli and Laxmi Bomb, Aditya Kripalani is in the box seat. The writer-director speaks to The Indian Sun on his journey from self-published novelist to critically acclaimed film-maker

Writing, says Aditya Kripalani, has always been his profession, whether it was his stint in advertising, or as the creative head of IDream Production and Percept Picture Company.

A few years ago, Kripalani began to dabble in script writing a few years ago and that was when he discovered the movie-maker in him. He then went on to do a short course in film appreciation at the Film and Television Institute of India in 2002, followed by a Film Screenplay Writing course in 2004. And that, says Kripalani, was the beginning of a whole new life for him.

Kripalani wrote and self-published his first novel, Back Seat when he was 26, then followed it up with the sequel Front Seat. And then came Driver’s Seat. The books became best sellers.

He then wrote the book Tikli and Laxmi Bomb, when he turned into a hit film, which has been screened at film festivals around the world including the Kolkata International Film Festival, New Zealand Asian Pacific Film festival (only Indian film to be screened in 2017); Jaipur International Film Festival 2018; UK Asian Film Festival 2018; and the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne.

The film is about two sex workers, who decide to attain autonomy in their profession by running the trade by women and for women. Making a film, he says, has been his most life altering experience. “It’s like a spiritual experience for the entire crew. Lives change, moods change, relationships change, so much happens, so many people feel deep artistic satisfaction, so many friendships are made, some are broken… It’s quite mad and beautiful at the same time. I feel elated during the making of a film,” he says.

The 35-year-old writer speaks to The Indian Sun on his journey…

What inspired you to make a film on something you had recently written about? Isn’t it like having the same experience twice?

Yes it is. But it’s like making love to someone you love and have already made love to once, in a totally different setting, country, space. So it’s as beautiful the second time, because you now have a sense of what that person is like, and things are only more heightened because you know enough to predict and be comfortable, but also not enough to not be surprised. Novels are one medium where no one expects you to cut off so much, where there isn’t so much of a mad emphasis on tightness, where you can spend time in someone’s head. Films are more externalised, tighter, or at least supposed to be, there’re so many other forms of art around to aid the storytelling. So it’s beautiful to revisit the same story in another format, in another medium.

When you say you share a love, hate relationship with Mumbai, what does it mean?

I was born in Pune, smaller, quieter, more space and it has a winter. But I’ve been brought up by Mumbai, so I have its inherent pace in my veins. I’m always awake, always running, even when I’m chilling, I have the frenzy within me, in my bones. I hate that Mumbai doesn’t allow you to slow down. I hate that you can’t cycle, can’t walk, that it isn’t a city that’s nice to old people. I love that there is madness and energy in every pore, in every lane in every square metre of this city. It’s so so so alive. But that level of being alive is tiring, exhausting sometimes. It’s like living very close to the sun, it’s hot, but that itself is life giving.

You are a writer-turned-director. So, what do like more writing or directing films?

Can’t choose. They’re so interconnected in my head now. I love the solitary part of writing, which is why I never collaborate with anyone to write. And I love the whole cooperative aspect of making films. They’re such a beautiful coming together of various arts, of various people’s personal bests. I absolutely love both. I intend on doing a lot more of both.

Your film touches a social issue not many want to talk about. Didn’t you think of casting big stars for it?

Not a fan of stars to work with. I love watching them on screen. Besides, the big film game is exactly that a game, you must earn your stripes slowly, to then be able to remain in control of a film with stars. It’s not my strength. But working with great actors is fantastic, thrilling, beautiful. And that part is the most exciting part of film making for me. Other than writing.

Tell us about your experience at the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne.

I’ve fallen in love with Melbourne. We ended up meeting the delegates on the day of the screening. They’ve organised it well and we were played at a lovely theatre. Thanks to the festival we ended up spending so much time in this lovely city.

Lots of people at the festival thought the film was moving. I loved that it was a multicultural and multiracial audience. My story too crosses borders and boundaries.

What is the message that your movie gives to its viewers?

Revolt against anything oppressive… at all costs.

 

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