Kanan Gill on his first short film, casting Abish Mathew over Sonakshi Sinha, comparisons to Biswa
In an exclusive interview to Firstpost, Kanan Gill reveals his experience of training under Nagesh Kukunoor to direct his debut short film.
Disclaimer: This is a pretentious movie review.
After watching Kanan Gill's directorial debut, a short film on a puff dealing with existential crisis, I actually needed something to puff on. What had been delivered before my eyes was a modest masterpiece on existentialism.
Without giving away the layered title of the film, this writer would like to inform all film academicians to study Gill's magnum opus — a result of The Doers Club I Can Do That series which saw him pick up skills like DJing, dancing and cooking. Since every part of this YouTube series had a mentor to train the comedian, renowned filmmaker Nagesh Kukunoor was roped in for the final episode.
Kukunoor, in fact, was mighty impressed by what Gill brought to the table. "We actually spent half a day. No wait, maybe I am exaggerating. Four hours, where we had a conversation about my process. Half of it was just him talking continuously and us laughing non-stop. I don't even know if he was listening. But I am genuinely so happy with the result," says Kukunoor, in an exclusive interview to Firstpost.
This sense of confidence explains why he was at his natural, and comic, best during his rather taxing workshop with Kukunoor. Gill also brings that humour quite organically to his film as well, as is evident by the demonstrative face of the lead actor, Abhish Mathew.
"He can do anything. I just have to ask him," says Gill, with the same kind of poise that Mathew displayed on the screen. Given the fact that they were roommates, their venn diagrams finds an intersection that is bound to yield magic. In fact, (and here is a minor spoiler) Gill makes fleeting appearances in the short film and even in those moments, he seems to share a sense of comfort with Mathew, as if they connect at a frequency beyond what the mortals can gauge.
So who's a better costar? Abish or Sonakshi Sinha (Noor)?
In an effort to avoid hurting the more experienced actor's sentiments, he says, "Sonakshi is really sweet. As a part of the process, I even asked her to send an audition tape for my film. And she sent it!"
But we know who the better actor is? Just compare the box office collection of their films this year — Noor (Sonakshi) and Meri Pyari Bindu (Mathew). Yes, Abish was in Meri Pyari Bindu.
After watching the award-worthy short film, this writer even feels that the combo of Gill and Mathew will far supersede the combined genius of Biswa and Kanan, the hosts of Pretentious Movie Reviews. Gill, in fact, refrains from commenting on the digital debut of Biswa Kalyan Rath, who came up with his own Amazon Prime Video India original Laakhon Mein Ek recently.
"See, I know how to be funny. I know how to make funny videos. This is what this series was all about — the process of filmmaking and coming up with something bizarre," says Gill, with an air of gifted superiority that can be easily perceived as arrogance. But hey, he wasn't the one who shouted "Ae tatti, tera naam kya hai?" to an audience member. His humour is way above mudslinging, or potty-slinging for that matter. His humour is as smooth as his cameos in the short film.
It is this slice-of-life treatment that compels this writer to draw a parallel between the directorial debuts of Gill and his mentor, Kukunoor. Hyderabad Blues also addressed the existential crisis of the protagonist and brought to fore his dilemma between holding on and letting go. The pertinent question of to be or not to be is also intelligently addressed in Gill's short film.
Another parallel between both the cerebral filmmakers is that they starred in their directorial debuts. While Kukunoor brushes aside the observation by saying that 'it was a long time ago', Gill points out that he finds it easier to direct himself than others. "I am used to facing the camera and directing himself. So I always know exactly what I want and I do it. But directing others is more difficult," says Gill.
However, he shies away from the fact that he is as good in front of the camera as behind it. As he joins the likes of Raj Kapoor and Guru Dutt in the breed of legends directing themselves, he denies a comparison, in all his humility. "I Can Do It has been an interesting exercise. It has been about being very serious about being very silly."
As he gears up for the release of the instant classic, or a delayed one like Mera Naam Joker, his I Can Do It grin throws flash on his eyes that look down on lesser mortals like me, who will continue to decode the brilliance he has left behind.
Watch the final episode of I Can Do That below.
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