Andheri in the Times of India

It's Andheri in US

Sushrut Jain's short film on the cacophonic suburb is garnering raving reviews in international film festivals. Vikas Hotwani catches up with the filmmaker

Not everyday do you hear of a Juhu lad who's bagged a PhD in Economics from Stanford going on to pursue film-making. But then, when last did you hear of a short film with a Mumbai suburb as the backdrop doing the rounds of film festivals such as Clermont-Ferrand (France), Indian Film Festival of LA, Gulf Film Festival (UAE), South Asian Intl' Film Festival (New York City), Edinburgh Film Festival (UK), among others.

Sushrut Jain's Andheri is creating waves on the festival circuit.

The movie shows the strong impact Andheri has on a maid's life. What influence do such suburbs have on the residents' lives?

Urban life in most big Indian cities has become intensely oppressive, especially for the poor. The working underclass has to move mountains daily just to get through the day. The emotional impact is grave.

What kind of feedback has Andheri received?

Fantastic. At the Clermont-Ferrand Film Festival, locals (who saw Andheri with French subtitling) would confess how moved they were. A French lady begged me to make more films like this and not the typical song-dance stuff she always sees from India.

How does your economics background and moviemaking complement each other?

Economics helped me appreciate the socio-economic challenges of India. Being able to analyse concepts such as labour, class, economic opportunity etc makes you see your own society realistically. It also helps me stay realistic about my options as an artist.

How has Andheri, the suburb changed over the years?

During the 1980s, you could play cricket on the Juhu-Versova Link road. Today, that's impossible. Even the idea of going for a walk seems silly!

What challenges did moviemaking pose?

A big challenge was convincing the BEST to let us have a bus and not charge us a huge amount. The GM of BEST helped us out. Getting the police and BMC permissions seemed too confusing initially, but we realised that finally, people do help you if they like you and like what you're doing. We didn't pay a single bribe in the process

Do the movie's characters bear any resemblance to people you know?

Yes. Everything one writes usually is based on and inspired by what one has seen and experienced.

What next?

I intend to keep making movies set in India. My aim is to do in India what Walter Salles did in Brazil or Innaritu in Mexico - tell the world dramatic stories from my country, but maintain a firm grounding in reality.

Click here to read the article at the Mumbai Mirror
Copyright 2007 Sushrut Jain. All rights reserved. Site by Ben Walker.