A Conversation with the Director Duo: Satyanshu Singh and Devanshu Kumar at Article-19

The Director duo, Satyanshu Singh and Devanshu Kumar graced the last day of the annual media event of Manipal Institute of Communication, Article 19 with their presence. After the screening of their film, ‘Chintu Ka Birthday’, the siblings talked about their journey, their struggles, and their experience so far and answered several questions by the students regarding the os and don’ts if they are interested in scripting or directing. In an interview session with Manipal The Talk Network, Devanshu, and Satyanshu open up about their experience with their National Award-winning short film, ‘Tamaash’ and their first feature film, ‘Chintu Ka Birthday’.

Q.1. Of the two films, ‘Tamaash’ and ‘Chintu Ka Birthday’, to which one you connect more and which one has been more of a challenge?

 

A. If you ask the same question to our mother about us being her two children, she would reply that it does not matter since both of us are hers only. We are very emotional about our films, ‘Chintu Ka Birthday’ was our first feature film whereas ‘Tamaash’’ was our first short film, I love them equally. ‘Tamaash’ taught us what not to do in the next film and ‘Chintu Ka Birthday’ is going to teach us how to go forward. Moreover, ‘Tamaash’ was produced by us. So, for ‘Tamaash’, we were everything, be it the director, the clapper boy, the writer, basically everything on the set; it was a very home-like feeling. But with ‘Chintu Ka Birthday’, stakes were higher. If ‘Tamaash’ was a film of 3-3.5lacs, ‘Chintu Ka Birthday’ was movie worth crores. We put in the same level of dedication, that aspect was the same but we were putting someone else’s money on it. And the biggest difference was we were shooting ‘Tamaash’ without knowing that this will become big because we were shooting ‘Taamash’ to learn. But with ‘Chintu Ka Birthday’, we knew that it will become big. So, the pressure was very different. Plus we had a world-class crew on ‘Chintu ka Birthday’ and India’s top cinematographers were with us and with ‘Tamaash’ it was like we had to show people that we were capable of making a film. And the funny part was we shot ‘Tamaash’ in Kashmiri while we are from Bihar, so we were not comfortable with the language but with ‘Chintu Ka Birthday’, though some part of it had Arabic in it, large part of it was in Hindi and English, with which we were comfortable.”

Q.2. Since you yourself produced Tamaash, did you feel that there was more freedom while making it as compared to Chintu ka Birthday?

 

A. In ‘Chintu Ka Birthday’, we also had freedom. In ‘Tamaash’, the limitation was money but how we spend that money was totally up to us and so was the case in ‘Chintu Ka Birthday’ as well. In both the movie,s, we had total control over the expenditure, which is very rare in the industry. We have not really had that much of a career you know, to have a chat on this topic.

Q.3. You both co-directed the film. So, how do you deal with the creative difference that comes along?

 

Ans. We mostly divide our work. There are certain departments such as make-up, costume, production design, casting, where I do not interfere and Devanshu takes all decisions. We mostly divide our work. We understand our own strengths and weaknesses. We are still learning how to work better together. Plus, we do not make films every day and is it not better to divide the work rather than too many people trying to do the same thing?

Q.4. You said in the talk, “you need to be ready, you will know when you are ready”. When was the moment or what was the point when you both knew that you were ready to take the shot?

 

A. For scripting we knew, we were ready after we completed the script for ‘Chintu Ka Birthday’. And for direction, it was while shooting ‘Tamaash’, we knew that we were ready. And sometimes it is funny, how we just do what we have to do and while doing it we do not know if we are ready or not. Many times we were not sure if we were ready or not but we were doing it because we love it and this is the only thing we know. If we fail, we fail. We just keep doing it until we make something like ‘Tamaash’ or ‘Chintu Ka Birthday’. Before and after ‘Tamaash’ we made several things and we failed miserably, but it is okay. Moreover trying something and failing at it is a very normal thing. Not being okay with it is an impractical thing to do. We have to be okay with it. So we need to allow ourselves to fail to be ready to face success which again is very short-lived.

Interviewed by Swikruti Kar for MTTN

Pictures by Mridul Kalra for MTTN

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