Tag Archives: shahid azmi

JUST SAYING THANK YOU FOR GOOD CINEMA AND FOR SHAHID AZMI! by Khursheed Mistry

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SHAHID-WP-1

I’ve watched Shahid thrice; the last time, I even paid to see it!  What can I say about Shahid that hasn’t been said already and by many, far more eloquently than me? This time around I had half my attention on the reaction of the audience as well. They laughed when I did and cried when I was weeping copious tears (I promise I heard many sniffles during some overwhelming moments in the film). At the end of the film, we all cheered for our 2 hours well spent and worth every rupee!

I must admit rather candidly that I am guilty; of the same prejudices that most of the population of this country have towards Muslims. However, when I was watching Shahid, I forgot about his religion or his faith and could only focus on his zeal. What made Shahid tick? How did this young man so full of life and such goodness, deal with all the adversities in his life? The answer is simple. Shahid Azmi was a man of choices. Even the wrong choices made by him, he endeavoured to rectify. At every crucial juncture in his life, Shahid chose to listen to his instincts and heart. This man of internal steel weathered every storm in his life stoically and in a matter of fact manner, that warms the cockles of the heart. He never bragged about his achievements nor cursed fate for his problems. This country needs more people like him who turn to education to beat jingoism and the system rather than beat up the people.

Hansal Mehta has proved his worth by rising from the ashes like a Phoenix. By showcasing and with such skillful accuracy as well as sensitivity, the life of Shahid Azmi, a lawyer who was mercilessly killed for helping innocent convicts, he has shown one and all, the depth of his capability and evolution. From raw intensity, emotions, subtle humour and Shahid’s passionate belief in righting the wrong, Hansal has drawn out nothing short of natural and perhaps some of their best performances from his cast and crew.

There are some actors who define the roles they play so strongly that audiences find it unimaginable that another could have played it better. Raj Kumar Yadav, the unconventionally attractive actor lived and breathed the life of Shahid and infused a freshness that was very refreshing in the way the story was told. So convincing was his performance that he had me crying and laughing in the film. This multi-talented and gifted actor will go a long, long way!

In all this, due accolades must be given to the ENTIRE crew and cast of Shahid without whom this success would not have been possible. Baljinder Kaur, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub, Prabhleen Sandhu, Kay Kay Menon, Vipin Sharma, Shalini Vatsa, Yusuf Husain and many more, complemented and enhanced this labour of love with their contribution and presence.

Sameer Gautam Singh has expertly woven an excellent and well researched story. He painted it lovingly with myriad emotions and some unforgettable moments which had me spell bound!

No story is every complete without the contribution of the Editor. Apurva Asrani’s crisp and ever definitive cutting edge style leaves us with a visual delight beyond words. Precise and beautifully timed, this brilliant and talented Apurva has contributed greatly to the success of Shahid by also Co-writing the screenplay along with Hansal Mehta. No one tells a story with such purity as this award winning Editor!

Mercifully, this movie was devoid of raucous and idiotic songs. The music by Karan Kulkarni resonates hauntingly in the mind long after you leave the cinema hall. Anuj Dhawan’s cinematography is truly gasp-worthy. The capturing of iconic streets by day and night, opening credits of the film are only some of the many good scenes captured on celluloid by this bright professional.

As I left the cinema hall last night, on my way home it donned on me that all those, including me who saw and understood Shahid Azmi better could in fact actually change the system by drawing some inspiration from this larger than life man! Mr Shahid Azmi, you have our respect; your story will live on forever…

SHAHID IS NOT A 100 CR FILM; IT IS PRICELESS!

Chapter 1

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Wind on my head. You on my mind. I travel. An uncertain journey. An arduous path. The mountains. Loom large. Your thoughts. Invade my mind. I wonder. I wander. I seek. The unknown. I crave. A future. I live. A present. I fear. A past.

It was 2007 when I took the decision. I was enraged with myself. I was enraged with the films I was making. My mind was bereft of ideas. Film-making had become a chore, an attempt to portray something meaningless through even more meaningless wide-angle lenses. Distorted images, frantic camera moves and non-existent scripts. I had only myself to blame. I was seeking nothing. I was angry. But the anger was misdirected. I was unable to look back at my own work. I was afraid to reflect.

I decided that it was time to stop. To do nothing. To reflect. To contemplate. To read. To cook. To wander. To leave the city.

It was a selfish decision. It meant uprooting my family. It meant putting them through a period of change. It meant putting them through an uncertain process that did not necessarily have a tangible end. But I had to do it. I had to find myself again.

The last few years have been difficult. Yet they were the best years I have yet spent in my limited life. The shift to a small village on the outskirts of Bombay was pleasant. I was enveloped by silence. There was a calm that took some getting used to. I rediscovered books. I rediscovered music. Love, time, quiet and space were my only companions in the beautiful wilderness. I found solace in oblivion.

It took me nearly 1 year to detoxify myself from the filth that had choked up my mind. I wrote meaningless things. I expressed myself openly. I flushed out my misdirected anger. I worked on stories. I worked on scripts. Every time I finished writing I realized that I was far away from discovering myself let alone delving into story, characters, layers and structure. It was a process of self appraisal. I distanced myself. From the demands of the city. From the narrow confines of ‘what works’ and ‘what doesn’t work’. From the JW Marriott coffee shop. From Barista. From multiplexes. From malls. No Bombay Times. No Mumbai Mirror. No Mid-Day. No traffic. Just pure solace. There was no rush to make a film. No desperation to be prolific. No compulsion to comply. No reason to conform.

But it was far from meditative. There was chaos in my mind. My mind was filled with fear. I feared an uncertain future. I was warned by many members of the trade that my absence would result in me being out of work. That I should sign a film immediately. That I should start a new film immediately. The greater fear was that I did not want to make a film. And that was scary because there was nothing else I ever wanted to do. Suddenly my calling was slipping out of my hands. An even greater fear was the trouble my family would go through because of this inner turmoil. Why should they bear the brunt of my introspection? I had made very little money from films. Finances were running thin. Soon the patience of people closest to me would be running thin.

My family stood by me during this chaotic period. While frustrated at my doing practically nothing my wife stood by me. She empathized with my confusion. She understood my need to find myself. My parents and children patiently (sometimes unknowingly) waited for that moment of truth to strike.

On hindsight I feel that film-makers are a selfish lot. Their need for self-discovery and self-gratification isolates their nearest ones. Their need for isolation makes their dearest ones lonely, sad and often confused. Film-makers also suffer from the ‘victim syndrome’. They believe that nobody really understands them or their ‘inner turmoil’. The truth is that they are victims of their own need for expression. I am still not sure whether being a film-maker is a lonely profession or whether it is a selfish profession.

There is pain. In my heart. It happens. Every time. I embark. Upon this path. A path. That is agonizing. Yet full. Of ecstasy. My breathing. Gets hurried. My mind. Searches an answer. To a riddle. A riddle. That I call. A story. My heart. Seeks salvation. In a temporary moment. Called creation. I also question. My anxiety. And wonder. Is it worth the pain? I have no answer. Except. My restlessness. Self imposed. Self inflicted. Painful pleasure. I feel privileged. Yet pressured. I ask. Why do I have to be different? Why do I have to persist? Yet I persist. Into an unknown quest. I attempt. A conquest. Of my own demons. I am thankful. And resentful. That I guess. Is life.

Personal circumstances, financial compulsions and the urge to make films again got me back to the city. I journeyed back to the city knowing only this much. I would make a film that I wanted to make. I would make a film the way I wanted to make it. I would make a film with complete honesty. I would make a film with somebody who believed in my story. I would make a film with somebody who believed in me. The process of making the film had to be organic. The story had to be from within me. It had to express something I felt deeply about. The characters, screenplay, structure had to flow from conviction and not compulsion. The shots had to germinate from the scene. The mis en scene had to evolve from a space that belonged to my characters. Nothing would be forced. Nothing fake. Nothing convoluted.  All this was easier said than done. The real battle had just begun.

I did not have a story yet. I had worked on many scripts and toyed with many ideas. Some of them were unrealistic dreams. Some of them were out of date. Some of them were simply terrible. One of them was an idea that I had for nearly 5 years. It was an idea that had consumed me for the longest time. It was a script that I wanted to make but ended up making ‘Woodstock Villa’ instead. It is a script I still want to make. That script is another story. And hopefully another journey.

February 11, 2010 changed my life forever. A tragedy gave birth to a story. A story that had to be told. A story that had to be seen. A journey that had to be witnessed. Finally I had a story to tell… My untitled dream was born…

I closed my eyes. As she flowed past. I tried to focus. On her journey. I tried to block. Thoughts of myself. But the mind. Played its game. Her journey. Got muddled. With mine. Both hindered. Both in turmoil. Yet flowing. Merging. Resting. Flowing. Sometimes rushing. Sometimes calm. Many confused moments later. I opened my eyes. My mind. And me. At peace. Until the next hurdle.