Twenty Years On The Fringe – Incoherent Ramblings


In 2014 I completed roughly 20 years in the industry – of course encompassing my work as a TV producer/director, editor and filmmaker (and atrocious makeshift actor at times). I call these 20 years my life. The remaining years were another life, led by another person, lived by another soul. In 1994 I was a directionless 25 year old bored of computer software, a failed entrepreneur, a young father and basically a young man without a vision for life. 20 years later not much has changed. Except the fact that I have survived. I have survived these 20 years like many other nameless, faceless individuals do in this industry – on the fringes.

Being on the fringes of this industry means that –

  1. You rarely get invited to parties or premiers or previews.
  2. You don’t get written about often. Your personal life is very personal and is of no interest to anybody.
  3. You are rarely / never perceived as a threat to established insider stereotypes.
  4. You don’t expect or win awards.
  5. You make less money.

Essentially, this oblivion means that you can focus on work, lead a simple life and most importantly it means that you do not have to be politically correct all the time. Being on the fringe also means that your mediocrity is often looked down upon as mediocre and you have to ensure that your most mediocre work is less mediocre than the insider’s least mediocre work. You can also be irreverent, impolite, even honest and fearless as an outsider – your survival after all does not depend on your conformism or your sycophancy.

Yes, there are disadvantages, mostly self-inflicted, of being a fringe player. You can get cynical very easily as you see those less talented and more fortunate than you get all that you believe you deserve. You can get very bitter and you can waste immense amounts of time limiting your own creative growth. Nothing will ever seem worthy of your appreciation – not even your own work. Yes, cynicism is the greatest danger posed by oblivion as you will soon be unable to look at yourself in the mirror and you will constantly lower your own standards to belong to a place that you will never belong to.

I write from experience. I was once happy in my oblivion. Then I was dissatisfied. I desperately wanted to belong. I got cynical, frustrated and directionless. I stopped holding a mirror to myself. Fortunately, failure helped me recognize this. I took some time off from myself and my ego. Today, I am comfortable in my own little world. Shahid emerged out of this comfort with my own aspirations and my own inner self. I now inhabit an independent universe that is driven by me, my own benchmarks for growth and my own levels of satisfaction.

I write this because I see many like myself fall prey to the perceived pressure of oblivion and because I see them afflicted by the rampant mediocrity around them. I often see these people fading away and resorting to desperate measures that either undermine their talent or see them fading away beyond the fringes that they belong to. The truth is that being an outsider is far more fulfilling than having to belong to a place that you never belonged to in the first place.

Author: Hansal Mehta

Rants, Recipes, Writings, Films etc...

6 thoughts on “Twenty Years On The Fringe – Incoherent Ramblings”

  1. I do trust all of the ideas you’ve introduced on your post.

    They’re very convincing and will definitely work.
    Still, the posts are too quick for beginners. May just you please extend
    them a little from subsequent time? Thanks for the post.

  2. Hey Hansal!

    Irreverent as it might seem and apologies if it does, I hope I have a teeny weeny right to address you on first name basis ! Also at the outset I am going to offer my apologies if this is the wrong platform to write to you. I did not know any better way to get in touch with you. And more apologies if this ends up with an outpouring of emotions.
    Nope. I am not going to make it easy for you to guess who this is…. ! You will HAVE to read the entire reply and scroll down to the end to find out who this is. It has been quite a long time.since we last met. So this will really come to you like a blast from the past… I wonder how you will react when you know my identity… Will you react with excitement, wonder … the same as I feel … or will it be a non nonchalant .. ah .. yes I think I remember you. Well for that I’ll have to wait much longer than you. …
    So you are a film maker..!!!!. and one of quite some repute I might add !!! Forgive me though. I have not seen any of your movies. But some day I will, I came to know about you first, about a year back when I read your name in the papers. I mean as a film maker. And when a towering genius of Indian Cinema, Big B Himself no less … mentions you in one of his interviews, … well then … as the current generation would say… “Dude You have arrived !!”. .
    Over the past year .. I did read your blogs. While I found myself agreeing to the views expressed in most of them… others not so much as is wont to be the case. But I did not write to you earlier…. for a myriad number of reasons … you know the usual ranging from… . “he may not even remember me” and “I should not intrude in to his space” .. to “What will he think of me” ….mostly I held myself back… But today I read this above blog…. and something stirred in me enough to write to you… You have obviously spoken from the heart .. I have felt those very same emotions… and I applaud first your courage to put your thoughts on your blog and also your final perspective on the topic!!! (Again I do realize this is an old blog and perhaps some of the things I am saying here are passe. But all the same I thought I could respond to this and also to say hello)… 🙂
    In a some what similar though slightly different context… just yesterday I was having a conversation…. this is so uncannily weird… forgive the cliche… but it is true… I was having a conversation with my nephew, a lawyer by profession now, about being an outcast… though it was in a slightly different context. We were actually having a conversation about the necessity of having intelligent stimulating conversations with like minded or … I should say similarly inclined … not necessarily like minded individuals… and I said to him while recounting my experiences as a youngster… I said ..I felt an outcast among my friends all the time… and most of the time I still do…. because I could not find one soul to converse on the topics that were close to my heart then.. which are pretty much the same today as well….
    And here I find you echoing pretty much the same sentiments and thoughts… perhaps in a slightly different context … but yes .. I know that feeling… been there. … Which is what propelled me to write to you.
    Harking back to the days of yore … so to speak …. What I remember very very fondly of our all too brief association … is an affable .. likable, gentle as well as genteel ‘boy’, sophisticated, polished, coming as you were from a cultured family background… and perhaps one of the very few among my friends I not only got along with… but some one with whom I had a great rapport with… and above all one of the really few with whom I could discuss a topic really close to my heart which .. being .. Western Classical music.
    Those were the days my friend… We all had stars in our eyes then… myself included!… It was a different era altogether…..At the risk of getting all nostalgic… I would like to quote from an iconic classic movie of yet another era….Its the scene where Christopher Plummer as Captain Von Trapp has just run into his daughter’s love interest Karl who has come to deliver the communique from Hitler summoning the Captain to resume active duty immediately. The Captain not in the least pleased…angrily sends him off…. and for a while is lost in thought… To a query from the Baroness played by Eleanor Parker who come upon him … as to where he is lost The Captain replies ” In a world that is fast disappearing I am afraid”…. I rest my case mi-lord with the following. Irrespective of whether you reply or not to my post… I would like to say a huge Thank you my friend…. for having been in my life…. for having been my friend… when you were. For having made my life richer by your warmth, kindness and above all being a wonderful genuine human being. Thank you.

    With Warmest Regards
    and fondest memories.
    Aniruddha Phadnis … (Faddu)
    ph : 9322332974

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