We got Vyshakh RV, the director of ‘Titto’, to talk about quitting his cushy job for the director’s chair, the challenges one faces as a first-time director and Anurag Kashyap.
You started out as a software engineer. What happened?
What happened was I decided that I didn't want to live and die as a software engineer. I spent a lot of time figuring out what excited me. Then it hit me. My love for cinema was the only thing that had grown exponentially since my childhood. So I took a giant leap of faith and came to Bombay.
But creating Titto convinced me that filmmaking was my true purpose in life.
Your first gig in Mumbai was as Anurag Kashyap’s assistant director on Ugly. How did you manage to land that?
All I did was ask him. I didn't, and still don't, have any special talent. So, I think it was my mad love for cinema that convinced him.
How was it to have Anurag Kashyap as your film school?
Mr. Kashyap believes in letting you make your own choices. He never imposes his views on you and you're free to disagree with him. He's a self-made man and that's what he expects you to be. He was the first person that I got to know in Bombay. He has always been kind to me even though I was a terrible AD.
How much time did it take you from quitting your job to having your first film out?
It took me 18 months. For the first 15 months after quitting my desk job, I assisted Anurag and once I had an understanding of the craft I decided to get my hands dirty.
Where did the inspiration for Titto come from?
I can't think of any one event that inspired me to make Titto. I just wanted to capture the exciting life of a street urchin. I thought about it for a while and when I finally sat down to write it, I had an emotional outburst and wrote all of it in 30 minutes.
Tell us about the casting process.
The biggest challenge was finding an 11 year old protagonist. As the role was both physically challenging and emotionally intense, I had to find someone who was mature enough to handle those emotions. I visited a few slums and found Ajay in a slum in Versova. One look and I knew he was the one; he had the right attitude and a great face. I cast him without auditioning him.
I cast Akash (Titto’s tormentor) because I knew how talented and passionate he was. He was right for the part and he did a terrific job.
Vaibhav Vishant, who is a casting director, helped me find the rest of the actors. Vaibhav has a great eye and he's a good judge of talent. He found Sanjay Vichare (the cop), Kanchan (the shopkeeper) and Habib Azmi (the pawn shop owner). They are all supremely talented and highly experienced actors.
How much time did it take you to film Titto?
5 days of shoot. 20 days of Prep and 25 days for Post.
Shooting a gritty film like that must have had its shares of problems.
The problem was me. I was trying to achieve a lot with very little money. I couldn't do more than two takes for any shot and that took a toll on the film.
Luckily, I had a terrific crew and cast. Nikhil Arolkar, a highly talented cinematographer; Kirthi Kolwankar, our costume stylist, Anindit Roy, the sound designer and Deepak Sampat, the art director never complained and achieved so much in such chaotic conditions.
Who produced the film for you?
I was forced to produce the film myself. Even though producing is a pain in the ass job, I'm glad I did it because now it doesn't scare me at all. Fortunately, I sold the film and recovered the production cost.
Kurosawa, Coppola, Melville, Scorsese, Béla Tarr, Bresson, Sidney Lumet, Nic Refn, RGV.
What’s happening next?
Working on my feature film, a crime thriller.
What tips would you want to give young filmmakers?
Too young to do that but one thing I can safely advise any aspiring filmmaker out there is to enjoy the process and stay true to yourself.
By Avijit Pathak