Indie filmmaker Sudhanshu Saria, whose debut feature Loev (the gay drama made it to Flickside’s top 9 must-watch indie films of 2017 list) won rave reviews, writes about the films and filmmakers that inspired him to write his first film.
From Mr. India and Lamhe to The Godfather, Kieślowski‘s Three Colours Trilogy and Y Tu Mamá También, there are so many films that have shaped my understanding of what cinema is and what it can do. While each of these films have inspired me, it’s Mira Nair’s Monsoon Wedding that I would hold responsible for turning me from an audience member into a filmmaker.
The grounded, honest, natural language of the film, free of all artifice, completely shocked me. I saw my family, my reality and my relatives in its world. I must have seen the film a hundred times since my first viewing, often in the company of new friends and acquaintances I’ve hosted for movie-nights. And each time I’m amazed at how people from different backgrounds, cultures, and experiences find themselves in it. Despite being so focused on such a specific microcosm, the film becomes universal.
Her brilliant film aside, reading more about Ms. Nair made me really feel a kinship with her. I grew up in Siliguri, far, far away from the world of movies and while I was happy to devour anything the cable operators and cinema owners wanted to program, it never occurred to me that I could actually join this industry. Why should I? What would I make that others couldn’t?
Around the time I discovered the film, I remember reading her interviews where she would often repeat her maxim: “If we don’t tell our stories, no one will.” That really stuck with me. I also read another interview of hers where she talked about being offered to direct the third Harry Potter film. This was right after the first two had released to a record-breaking global success. She ended up rejecting the offer and decided on doing The Namesake instead. Unlike the Potter films, she felt only she could tell this particular story.
These tenets have become mantras for me over the years. As new ideas occur or are suggested to me, I think about her and the way she’s sculpted her career. Un-financeable and impractical as it was, I’m glad I decided to write LOEV and actually make it. It truly is a film, I feel, only I could’ve made. It is my story and I am really happy I got off that couch and decided to tell it.
Full disclosure: Though we’ve been in the same room, I’ve never actually interacted with Ms. Nair. I hope she finds and watches LOEV someday soon and accepts my sincere gratitude in helping bring it and another filmmaker to life.
By Sudhanshu Saria (Director: Loev)