Shwetaabh Singh on Aise Hee going to Busan: If you make a good film, who is backing you doesn't matter
Aise Hee (Just Like That), a Hindi film directed by Film and Television Institute (FTII) pass out Kislay, has been selected for the main competition at the Busan International Film Festival 2019. The film will compete with 13 other films from countries like China, Iran, Japan and Korea, among others. Shwetaabh Singh is the producer of Aise Hee, which is now on its way to the Busan International Film Festival 2019.
How does it feel when a group of young, passionate filmmakers make a film which receives acclaim on international platforms? Ask Shwetaabh, a 29-year-old Film and Television Institute (FTII) passout, and he will tell you what it is like.
"It is a slice-of-life film. Shot and made in a simple way. The story is about an old lady, who for all 70 years of her life, did just what the men of her family wanted her to do. She is expected to behave in a certain way, to take care of her grandchildren, to do puja and to wear white clothes. But after the death of her husband, she, in a way, rejects all of this," says Shwetaabh, adding, "She instead starts exploring life in a new way. She starts by doing small things like going to the mall, or eating an ice cream outdoors. She goes to watch a movie alone in a theatre and makes friends with a Muslim tailor who teaches him the art of embroidery."
Directed by Kislay, another FTII pass out, Aise Hee is shot in the religious capital of the country Prayagraj, formerly known as Allahabad. The film narrates the story of a 70-year-old widow who tries to discover life after the death of her husband. She doesn't like to spend her time chanting mantras or doing early morning yoga at a public park. Instead, she starts exploring life around her.
Another FTII alumnus Kislay is the director of Aise Hee.
Aise Hee is about how the society reacts to it; not in a revolting manner, but as a simple part of life. The cast of the film includes trained and experienced actors from National School of Drama as well as new people who are exploring the industry.
Many cinema stalwarts say that the current time is the best for cinema and filmmaking. Shwetaabh, who is also an aspiring actor, agrees. "There's still a lot that can be explored in filmmaking. We thought this is the time we can explore things in life. The kind of work that I saw happening around me, I think there's still a lot that can be done, which is not completely related to content or the name of the star attached to the film. And we thought that probably we can do something, in a certain manner, in the aesthetics of filmmaking that we probably believe in, which will also appeal to the audience irrespective of what the content is and irrespective of the name attached to the film," says Shwetaabh.
Director Kislay, who is also the scriptwriter of the film, has been working on Aise Hee for the past two years. The makers say that the film is not about the condition of women, or feminism for that matter. Shwetaabh says, "The film is not just about one woman. It is a story which talks about how two other women, from two different generations, relate to that woman. It is also about the women who see their reflections in the old lady. We are not trying to show it in a stereotypical manner. It is a simple story which also explores the perspective of the man whose mother doesn't abide by the rules set by the society. It also deals with the dilemma of the son."
Calling his film a subtle take on society, Singh adds, "There are many shades in the film. It is not about one person or about the entire society. We are not showing that the society goes against the lady or they protest against her. There are very subtle things that the film is touching upon. When you see our films, we are always talking about big things. Our films are about exaggerating things; we talk about larger-than-life things. But this film talks about small things in life and that's what appealed to us. Here we are deliberately talking about small things."
The makers of Aise Hee are hopeful that the future of small-budget films is going to be great in Bollywood. Shwetaabh has an advice for people who don't have godfathers in the film industry and have passion for cinema. The filmmaker says, "For people like us, who are starting from scratch, I think the basic thing is that you should stay true to your individuality and true to your aesthetic that you believe in. If you do that, your cinema is going to be good. And once you make good cinema, it doesn't matter who is backing you, it doesn't matter who is in your film. That cinema itself will become your selling point and it will itself get you people and audience."
Shwetaabh and the team of Aise Hee are hopeful about winning big at the Busan International Film Festival 2019 and are also going to participate in other international film festivals across the globe.