Interview: Abhishek Chaubey talks about 'nuanced and refined cinema,' loving good stories, A Death In The Gunj and more

Abhishek Chaubey, the director of Udta Punjab and producer of A Death in The Gunj talks about the kind of cinema masses should watch, and more

Abhishek Chaubey is the name that convinces you to expect good content on the screen. The filmmaker who started his journey as an Assistant Director with Makdee (2002) has now directed three popular films — Ishqiya, Dedh Ishqiya, and Udta Punjab. The writer-director has turned into a producer now, with the directorial debut of Konkona Sen Sharma’s A Death In The Gunj.

The movie is a suspense thriller and is close to its director, Konkona’s heart. InUth interacted with both Konkona and Abhishek about the film and what they are set to achieve through their craft of filmmaking. In the conversation, Abhishek opened up about many things. He elaborated around the kind of films he wants masses to watch. The director whose last film, Shahid Kapoor starrer Udta Punjab earned praises for offering a good content yet being commercial, also talked about what appeals to him to make a film. Excerpts:

You’re coming up with this new film, A Death in The Gunj, which you have produced. What was so special about this film that you wanted to produce it?
It was the script. Honey Trehaan, my partner, came across this script. He told me about it. Konkona is somebody we’ve known for a while. We’ve worked together. And it was a film that deserved to be made. And we were willing to do everything to make it possible.

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The film has already won so many accolades here and outside at various film festivals. Do you think it gives the films some kind of push when you show it to people outside and you get so many awards there?
There is a certain kind of audience in our country, which is interested in more refined cinema, more nuanced cinema. And that tribe, that number is increasing day by day. When a film like this does very well abroad, it also shows that we have the creative muscle, and we can make films that wider audiences, from different parts of the world, who have no idea about our culture, can watch and enjoy. It also gives us a certain kind of market push. There’s some sort of awareness that is created in our market regarding the film, some curiosity is created.

What does Abhishek Chaubey mean when he says that he is interested in or wants people to accept more “refined” or “nuanced” cinema?
There’s always going to be a mainstream cinema, which tells the story in broader strokes. You will always have a movie with a big star, big action and all of that. But, when it comes to talking about detailing when it comes to talking about certain little emotions and when it comes to talking about people who are not well represented in our movies. Not just good looking people, not just song, and dance, not just vibrant colours but real lives, real people, their stories, and interesting and unique points of view or people — that’s what nuanced and refined cinema is. It talks about an individual’s creative vision rather than satisfying just the base and taste of masses.

When you take up a script, or decide to produce it or write it down or maybe direct it, what is that one thing that you look for in that script? What is that (something) that pushes you or triggers you to make a film?
All the three films that I have directed, I have been one of the writers. When I direct, I look for ideas or story, which I can write and develop with a co-writer. But, if I am going to produce for other directors, I am going to look for a script that is engaging, that is personal and unique. Something that talks about a new kind of vision, we have not seen enough.

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You mentioned ‘real people’ ‘real emotions.’ How important is it for you to make films which talk about issues in the society?
I am not so crazy about every film is a social issue as such. For me, it’s important that it should work as a script, it should work as a story and it should be something that moves me and other people who have watched the film. I think that’s of utmost importance. There are certain issues that are closer to me. There are certain issues that I am interested in, but I don’t anything about them.

I don’t know. I don’t know what’s happening in the north east. I’ve never been there. I don’t anything about that. I have no authority. I would like to watch a film. But, if you ask me to make a film on that, I won’t be able to. I’ll have to spend a lot of time researching for that.

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