Director Shawn Arranha off to Cannes!

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Shawn Arranha was a valued assistant director to Apoorva Lakhia who then moved up the ladder and put on the directors cap for his first feature film titled Hide & Seek. The film was not your average Hindi film; it was in fact a horror film with a very modern edge in story, vibe and look. The film has caught the eye of a London based film company and Shawn is, as I write this, on his way to the Cannes Film Festival to meet with them. Shawn and I had a chat about films, going to Cannes and what type of cinema he wants to make. Check it out.

Of course, my first line of questioning was about being invited to attend the prestigious Cannes Film Festival. So, how did that come about? “A London based company had seen my film Hide & Seek and they wanted to work with me, so they told me ‘Where can we meet?’ I told them ‘I’m in Bombay and you guys can fly down here’. They said, ‘No, we are going to the Cannes we’d like to invite you so you can come and meet and talk and let take things further from there’. So, I’m going to check these guys and see what they have to offer. I’m going there with a script story of mine, which they liked. I’m going to go narrate them the script, have a few meetings and see how it goes.”

Shawn is not only excited about this meeting but that he will be at one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world! “I wanted to go to Cannes because I wanted to see the foreign world, the foreign market, the way they make foreign cinema. I want to actually start gelling with them and start making films for all sides you know. I want to bring Bollywood, Hollywood and all kinds of cinema whether its Italian, French, Spanish, anything, so it all becomes one type of film and everybody is enjoying it. Cannes is the place to get a feel and find out more.”

Expanding on this he said, “The thing is I’m trying to make different cinema. I’m trying to shake the market a bit with every film I do. I just don’t want to do the same thing over and over again. Because what I’ve learnt is that a lot of people internationally want to see a lot of films coming out of Bollywood but they want to see something different, something that shocks them. I want to do something like that.”

He not only has the London company interested in a story, there is also one in LA. “When Hide & Seek came out in America they actually thought it was a foreign film not a Bollywood one. That’s how I got a lot of the connections with LA because of that. I’ve talked with an LA based company who is interested in one of my scripts and most probably I’ll meet them there. So, I have different things happening in my life, which I’m going toward slowly, slowly. So probably it will be LA, and then London, and then somewhere, and somewhere (Laughs). I will be all over the place. So that’s how I’m trying to climb by using the outside step and then coming into Bollywood properly because I want to bring in all and make it one universal cinema. I’m going to try and figure out what type of genres will work so let’s see how it goes. That is what my aim is right now.” Adding however, “If suddenly somebody says, ‘we like your style in Hide & Seek, would you do another great, crazy thriller film for the Weinstein company?’ Then, of course why not, obviously I’ve got to go for it. So, I can never say no to a big producers like that. I’m ready to do anything! I’m just going to go all over. It’s time… it’s time that cinema just goes all over and if you have the talent then why not.”

We also talked about Hollywood coming into Bollywood and producing films, “Bollywood needs to be more experimental when a Hollywood company comes in. See, now if a Hollywood company comes in to back a Bollywood project they are going to be making the same Bollywood film. It will only work in India it won’t work abroad. But if a Hollywood company comes into India and they are doing collaboration with a Bollywood film there has to be a mixed culture. People want to see something fresh. They want to see something unique. Today if I go and make some crazy ass cinema in digital, something like the Korean cinema or something different, Hollywood would suddenly say ‘oh we are so used to seeing Bollywood being musical and about villages’. Suddenly you have this crazy cinema, which is acid and drugs, and with crazy shots, for them it’s a new high. For them it’s a crazy cinema, which they would love to see. These things can’t go wrong abroad. I’m an avid Internet guy. I’m always online seeing how cinema changes and I’m seeing the change happening. People are wanting to see raw, people are wanting to see real, people are wanting to see in your face and that’s what’s working. So Hollywood is backing their kind of stuff. All it takes is the right product, the right idea.”

It seems that audiences in India are opening up to some of that “crazy” as he says, meaning these new type of films as well. Many of the smaller budget films released in the last year have done really well, for example Udaan. “The thing is right now economics wise a small film is getting a lot of accolades because it’s different. What happens when you do a small budget film is that you can experiment again. In a big budget film you cannot experiment because everyone wants to be sure that it will work. Now the cinema is of the new generation. We are the new generation.”

That brought us to talk about Y-films, who are making movies by and for the youth and even going in the opposite direction making an anti rom-com. “See that’s why their films will work because they are banking on new people, new kids, new directors, everything is new. It’s fresh! So these things will work now because everyone is fed of seeing the same thing over and over again. Everyone wants to see something new and Bollywood itself is changing. People are coming into this fresh cinema. In Bollywood now-a-days there are a lot of small time companies coming up and making small films. Experimenting with it and taking it to the festivals and taking it all over the place.”

Obviously this is something he is very passionate about and he went on to say, “If it’s a small film you can take it all over the world. These films are opening festivals where people love to see something different from India… From India that’s the most important thing. They want to see something different from India because everybody in the west world has seen a Raj Kapoor film, have seen a Shah Rukh Khan film. For them, Bollywood has one picture in their head. We need to open up their eyes and minds and show them it’s not only this. We can make different cinema also because we have the talent. The only thing is we need the right people backing it. So that’s what I’m trying to do. I’m trying to find these big companies in Hollywood, in London so they can back on to us; who are the new guys who bring out some new different stories and make noise!”

Shawn has promised us a full report from Cannes so stay tuned for the exclusives only on!

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