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IFFI: The filmmaker is like the conductor of an orchestra, says Chaitanya Tamhane

The director of the festival favourite The Disciple spoke about making and distributing independent films. 

Our Correspondent

Speaking at the 51st International Film Festival of India (IFFI) director Chaitanya Tamhane remarked that the job of a director is like a music conductor or a manager. The Disciple director was speaking with film critic Faridoon Shahryar in a virtual conversation on 'Making Independent Films'.

Speaking about the role of directors, Tamhane said, "A good director has to be a good manager — 90% of the work is just that. The filmmaker is the conductor of an orchestra. Very little scope for idealism in it."

Stating that a major part of the director's job is communicating with people, he said, "You talk a lot to a lot of people all the time, but you are lonely at the top. If a film fails, it is seen as the director’s failure. That way, it is really a lonely job. A filmmaker's life is full of hustle.”

Tamhane also underlined finance as the key problem for any independent filmmaker. He said, "Finance is a problem for most independent filmmakers. Multiple variables help in zeroing in on a budget. Shooting in a place like Mumbai will, of course, be costlier. It also depends a lot on the working style of the director. Independent filmmakers need to spend more responsibly. I personally assert a lot of control on the financial aspects of filmmaking.”

Tamhane remarked that the OTT boom has emerged as a saviour in modern times. He said, "OTT platforms are like a new lease of life for independent filmmakers".

He added, “In India, practically, there is zero market for my kind of films. On top of that, the marketing of the film has to be worked out properly, in order to gain an audience. Earlier, in the monopolistic distribution chain, fighting a battle to win in the market was almost impossible. However, OTTs open new windows of opportunity.”

The director has been fortunate to work closely with Academy Award winner Alfonso Cuaron, who has backed his recent film, The Disciple. Speaking about the collaboration, the filmmaker said, "It was overwhelming, daunting to watch him on the sets of Roma. It taught me there is craft. The important thing is having a vision. It was an absolute pleasure. This experience has definitely enabled me to expand my vocabulary as a film-maker."

Almost reflecting Cuaron's influence, the director pointed out that language is never a limitation when it comes to cinema. Speaking on the subject, he said, "I will make my film in a language in which the story flows better."

He further stated, “Cinema has its own universal language. So, literal language does not matter. People are very much used to watching films with subtitles.”

The Disciple has already won the FIPRESCI Award and Best Screenplay Award at the Venice International Film Festival, as well as the Amplify Voices Award at the Toronto International Film Festival 2020.

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