Though every other filmmaker in Bollywood claims his film has gone or will go to the Cannes Film Festival, the truth is, very few
Indian films have been invited to the posh cinematic jamboree.
Earlier Vikramaditya Motwane’s Udaan was a rare
instance of an Indian film being invited to Cannes. Now reclusive, virtually-unknown director Ashim Ahluwalia has surprised
everyone by being invited in the prestigious Un Certain Regard section at Cannes this year.
Pinning down Ahluwalia for an interview wasn’t easy. Subhash K Jha speaks to the reclusive director.
Your second feature film Miss Lovely has been selected for the Un Certain Regard section at Cannes. What does this honour
mean to you?
Miss Lovely wasn't an easy film to make and films that are different rarely get support in our Mumbai film industry. So it's a nice
thing that after five years of working on a film it has a place like Cannes to go to. It feels like a good way to let the film out into the
Your film vies for attention alongside the latest works of world luminaries such as Wes Anderson, David Cronenberg and Alan
Resnais. Is that a reassuring place to be in?
What are your plans for Cannes? Are you looking forward to being there with your film and all the glamorous invitees?
I'm not so interested in the glamour of Cannes. I would be making a different kind of cinema if I was. But I am excited to see the
response to a new kind of Indian film that breaks conceptions of what Indian films can be.
This (Miss Lovely)is unlike
anything people expect from India. It’s not a song and dance extravaganza and nor is it about rural poverty. It is something
The last film to be invited to Cannes was Udaan. Your opinion on that film?
I haven't seen it. I don't watch much Bollywood.
What is your opinion on Bollywood cinema and Bollywood filmmakers?
I don't honestly relate to Bollywood. It’s just not something that reflects our country or how we live. For me, it's fake and leaves me
kind of empty. I have much greater expectations from cinema. Having said that, there is a lot of Indian cinema I love. It's just not
Just two feature films in you entire career and Miss Lovely is your first film in six years. Why the sparse output? As a
filmmaker don't you crave to put more of your thoughts on screen?
I'm just very slow, I need to live with the film and the subject for a long time. I'm really not in so much of a hurry, though.
Tell us about yourself... Why is so little known about you?
I don't enjoy doing press so much. I prefer to let my films speak for themselves.
What do you think of Bollywood mainstream cinema? You are quite the outsider to Mumbai's entertainment industry. Are you
averse to the culture of mass entertainment?
I don't watch them. I'm not averse but mainstream entertainment doesn't entertain me so much.
Your film Miss Lovely takes a satirical look at the culture of potboilers in the 1980s. Are you of the opinion that the 80s were
the bottom-most rung of intellectual aridity in mainstream Hindi cinema?
The film is not a parody. It's set in the world of sex and horror films of the 1980s. In fact, I don't laugh at these films at all but marvel
at how they were made so cheaply, with so few resources. In that sense, they were the original independent films of their time.
What made you choose the three actors Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Niharika Singh and Anil George?
I wanted people who felt very similar to the characters in the script, I didn't really want them to act too much, but just be. I didn't
care about what they had done in the past, so in a sense, I'm the opposite of every other director.
I want people that
nobody knows. I didn't know who Nawazuddin was. I just saw his screen test and was like "this guy is Sonu".
wanted to give him a lead role for some strange reason. It's only later I realized that he might actually be one of the best actors we
have in this country. It's great that he is finally getting his due.
Finally, what next? Are you going to make another film after another six years?
I hope I can work that fast.