From wanting to become an architect to studying bioinformatics to getting into film industry, Independent filmmaker Karan Vyas shares bits from his life.
Tell us something about you.
I like to use an umbrella term “filmmaker” to introduce myself because, when you are working in independent films, you end up doing lot many things then you required to do. So primary I write screenplay and dialogue, but I get myself involved into direction and many other departments.
You made 51 short films in 6 months during a project. Tell us about it.
I can’t take credit single-handedly. It happened in 2007. I was just 18 and I got associated with a group called First Time Film Makers (FTFM). We were almost 40 people in the group and we tried to make 51 short films in just 10 days. We eventually did that after so much of pre-production, planing and writing. Couple of people involved in the group are active industry members today including Nirav Barot (Thai Jashe), Jay Bhatt (Writer/Actor) and Manan Bhatt (Editor).
You wanted to become an architect, you studied bioinformatics and now you’re into film industry. Tell us about your journey.
I’m used to watching a lot of films since very young age. And when I was 9-10 years old, I asked my dad, aa picture kon banave? ‘Director’; my film enthusiast father replied. It was decided that I will become a director. But when I was in 11th grade my likeness switched towards architecture. In a class full of aspiring doctors and pharmacists, I was a black ship who wanted to become an architect. My dream was to study at CEPT (Centre for Environment Planning and Technology). I knew I was about to score low in 12th; so only chance to get into CEPT was to score high in entrance test NATA. Everything was well planned, but that particular year CEPT stopped accepting candidates from Biology group! I had no choice but to go with the Bachelors in Science as I had scored pretty low. I opted for bioinformatics as major.
Later I regained my love for films and filmmaking while I worked with FTFM during college days. After graduation, I applied for FTII (Pune) and failed. It was 2010; I had already started my photography course from Nav Gujarat college. Then after a strong suggestion from a friend, I joined film school in Los Angeles, California. I was lucky enough to get into one of America’s best film schools, University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). And then there was no looking back.
So how did you get into Gujarati film industry?
I attended Abhishek Jain’s film making workshop in 2008. I was in touch with him since then. During Heritage week in 2009, we again bumped into each other. He told me that he is soon going to make a Gujarati film. I laughed really hard. I thought he was joking. He later introduced me to Anish Jain and Mikhil Musale in an event. Then I joined film school and lost touch with them. Once I was done with my direction course, I had to make a film. Due to lack of budget, I wanted to shoot it in Ahmedabad. I again met Abhishek, Mikhil and Anish. They had recently finished shoot of Kevi Rite Jaish. It was under post production. Cineman helped me make my short film. I went back. I watched Kevi Rite Jaish, it was extremely refreshing Gujarati film! After couple of years in LA, I decided to come back. Coincidentally, I came back India on 26th August 2014 and Cineman’s second Gujarati film released on 29th August. I rushed to the cinema hall very first day and watched it. After watching Bey Yaar, it was decided that I will join the new wave of Gujarati cinema. I contacted Abhishek same night and in couple of days, I joined Cineman.
Tell us about your career in Gujarati cinema so far.
I was very briefly associated with Bey Yaar. I was keeping close eye on the film. Bey Yaar ran for 50 days. That motivated me for Wrong Side Raju. Technically, I have worked with only one Gujarati film; the journey has just started. It is far more amazing. I consider Wrong Side Raju as my masters of film making. I’ve been associated with Wrong Side Raju from very beginning till very end. It was a two and a half year long, extraordinary journey.
I am working with couple of more Gujarati films after Wrong Side Raju.
How was your experience working in Wrong Side Raju? Both as a writer and as associate director.
The entire experience and the journey itself was very enriching. I was so overwhelmed with entire experience that it is very difficult for me to articulate the whole journey. I, Mikhil and Niren Bhatt worked really hard on the script. We carried out a lot of research, we met a lot of interesting people as a part of the research. We met couple of bootleggers, policemen; we attended a lot of high court hearings and personally met couple of lawyers who handle cases like hit and run.
While writing, we kept back stories and motivations of all characters in mind. Taking from Dinesh to fake witness to Panipuriwala to leads of the film, we knew each every character’s smallest nuances and their background while writing, because all the characters of the film had some or the other real life character reference which we came across during our research.
And as associate director, my primary duty was to make sure what we had envisioned while writing the film had to come out on the screen correctly.
Your first Gujarati film won National award for Best Gujarati film. How does it feel?
Feels like life has completed a full circle. Honestly I was not expecting it; who can imagine National award for very first film? But now we will have to work even harder to live to all the expectations. This award is not only important to us, it’s actually very important for entire industry.
What are your future plans? Currently working in any script or film?
Currently sequence of Gujjubhai the Great is keeping me busy. I am associate director in the film and also briefly fulfilling some duties in the script department. Post Gujjubhai sequence, I intend to collaborate with different writers and start my own Content developing company; where as a team of fresh and experienced writers, we all can simultaneously work on couple of projects together, catering different genres and mediums. The idea is to create a room full of writers to generate quality content. It won’t be just limited to feature film writing. We plan to include every avenue including web series and social media films.
When are you debuting as a feature film director?
I am yet to finish the script,which I want to direct. But I will be seen on the set with my director’s viewfinder by 2018.
Which are your 5 most favorite films?
Indian films: Lagaan, Dil Chahta Hai, Premam (Malayalam), 3 Idiots, Jane Bhi do Yaaro
Non Indian films: Dark Knight, Jurassic Park, City Of God (Brazilian), Turtles Can Fly (Kurdish/ Iranian), Nuvo Cinema Paradiso (Italian)
Which are your 5 favorite directors?
Indian directors: Rajkumar Hirani, Imtiaz Ali, Vishal Bharadwaj, Mani Ratnam, Alphanso Putharan
Non Indian directors: Steven Spielberg, Martin Sorceress, Christopher Nolan, Majid Majidi, Quentin Tarantino
Which Bollywood actors would you like to work with in future?
Honestly many. Mr Bachchan , Ranbir Kapoor, Alia Bhatt, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Sushant Singh, Akshay Kumar, Ayushmann Khurrana, Parineeti Chopra, Sharman Joshi , Abhay Deol, Amir Khan, Hritik Roshan, Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh. I am too greedy but yes, which ever actor script demands.
What is your message for the Gujarati cine-goers?
We are very much thankful to all the Gujarati cine-goers who are supporting us and accepting our films as their own films. When they have option to choose between, Bollywood, Hollywood and Gujarati films, they are supporting good content, specially Gujarati films, and that really makes lot of difference.
What is the one thing that you don’t like about Gujarati film industry?
We are still developing industry, compared to other regional industries and we really lack proper knowledge and understanding of economics. Which may differ film to film. We as an industry also need to learn achieving certain level of production value with limited budget we usually have.
What is your message for aspiring filmmakers?
Give more importance to your story and screenplay compared to shots and treatments. If script is written correctly then only treatment will enhance your viewing experience.
What do you think about BuddyBits?
I have always seen BuddyBits as the front runner supporter of Gujarati film industry and always being very enthusiast connecting Gujarati youth across the globe to its own film industry, while keeping all the latest updates, news and opinions posted regularly.
Thank you Karan for your words for us. We wish you all the best for all your future endeavors.