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Fear of failure can be life-threatening, says Hansal Mehta


In a Twitter thread, the Omerta director opens up on the risks, challenges and grave condition in which filmmakers function in the industry today.

Shriram Iyengar

Hansal Mehta is not one to mince words. Director of films like Shahid (2013), Aligarh (2016) and Omerta (2017), Mehta is known for his brave stance on several issues. On Wednesday, the director took to Twitter to speak about the recent death of colleagues and the pressures on filmmakers.

Mehta started by saying, "The number of colleagues meeting untimely deaths is devastating. Many I know, many I don't. This industry and its pressures can be hellish."

The apparent reference was to the recent demise of Kundan Shah and Lekh Tandon. Both struggled for recognition in later years, though their reputations remained intact, having made some iconic films.

Mehta went on to say that many filmmakers suffer from insecurity due to the 'disparity, desperation, oblivion, uncertainty, pressure to perform, and pressure to find work' in this industry.

According to the director, the solution lies in creating associations willing to provide filmmakers with legal and financial assistance. The director also said counselling might prove helpful to a number of filmmakers and artistes who suffer from depression. With box-office pressure and failure, it is not easy for filmmakers and artistes to cope with the public glare.

The director also shed light on the contentious issues of harrassment and abuse that are being raised about the film industry. He wrote, 'Often it isn't failure — just pressure of the workplace. Hierarchy, harassment, abuse and indignity are rampant. With nobody to address these.'

But the industry was not the only focus of Mehta's outpourring. The director also pointed out that life in the stressful city of Mumbai can be just as tough. He wrote, 'It's also the pressure of having to live in a shit-hole called Mumbai to be a part of the industry that is life threatening.'

Before the issue of Mumbai could snowball into something bigger, the director clarified that the question was more about basing the 'Hindi film industry' in the city of cosmopolitan ideals.

The director, who was personally attacked during the release of Shahid (2013), also pointed to the lack of respect for filmmakers in general. He went on to add that if it were not for his family and friends, he would have been dead a long time ago.

The recent violence against Sanjay Leela Bhansali and the opposition from one political party to the Tamil film, Mersal, only provide validity to Mehta's recent tweets. However, it remains to be seen if the filmmaker's concerns will be addressed.

Currently, there are several organizations like the Federation of Western Indian Cine Employees and Association of Motion Pictures Television and Producers as well as the Indian Film and Television DIrectors Association (IFTDA) that offer support for film workers and employees. However, it is not known if these organizations help with counselling or offer advice to directors and filmmakers.

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