[A]fter travelling to festivals like South Asian International Film Festival, New York and Mumbai Film Festival (MAMI), Sandeep Mohan’s Love, Wrinkle-free released in theatres this Friday (Read review). The director talks about his film which rightly claims to be an ‘offbeat, light-hearted story about love going beyond cosmetic barriers’.
How did the idea for Love, Wrinkle-free originate?
While traveling and hanging out in cafes, I noticed that we Indians are getting extremely obsessed with the “external”. There are more Skin Clinics and Botox Centres and Hair transplant “dens” than Dustbins in cities. Also, this is a country that prided itself on the “internal” and gave the world Yoga and what not.
I felt that the pressure to retain youth for a longer period of time, with headlines like ‘40 is the new 30’ and ‘50 is the new 40’ does start to put a lot of pressure on families and I wanted to explore this theme through my film. It is not that I wanted to be judgmental, but I was amused and wanted to explore it deeper. I took the light hearted route since that is something that comes to me easily and also because I believe that you can strike home the point better when humor is used effectively. I hope I have been reasonably successful in that endeavor.
How did you go about looking for finance for your debut film?
Love, Wrinkle-free is a crowd-funded project. Once the script was locked, I along with my producers Giju and Kamal put up a website and invited likeminded, indie-spirited investors(that is kind of difficult) to support this movie. Over a period of time, things started rolling and soon we had just enough to start production. Step by step, we have managed to get just enough funds to release the film. Also we kept the whole process very transparent and professional with the investors which I think they found endearing and they have been very supportive. Also, we kept our budget very tight and finished the shooting in Goa in 22 days.
What has been your learning while making your debut film independently?
The biggest learning I have had after making this movie is that “I don’t know anything”. Going forward, as I make more movies, I look forward to using this to an advantage. Because sometimes knowing too much and becoming an expert can hamper. I would prefer to remain “clueless” about a lot of things so that I am not scared of jumping into the deep end even in my second film. Also I learned that as an indie filmmaker, you have to drive and lead the film yourself. Also lead by example. I learned a lot in these last 2 years and also unlearned a lot more in this 2 years…so let’s see where my life’s journey takes me from here…all I know is that I want to keep it adventurous….
Where did you get the idea for ‘edible lingerie’? Did it work in your favor while pitching it to producers or did it seem too much of a risk?
While writing the script, I didn’t let any other thoughts like which producer to pitch this script to, creep into me. I just wrote what excited me. Whatever themes that I wanted to explore at that phase in life, I have weaved it into the script. As for edible lingerie, I thought it is kind of interesting since I have always believed that we Indians are big time kinky except we don’t talk about it because of the fear that “what will our families think of us?” Also, underwear is something people hide, and don’t talk about and I think it shakes people out of their comfort zone when you talk about it upfront without getting sleazy…
All my actors be it Ash Chandler, Shernaz Patel, Seema Rahmani, Ashwin Mushran, Sohrab Ardeshir, Arika, Dasang, Marianne…everyone of them gave me a lot of their time. That was one criterion. I needed time with them to work on the characters. Also it helped that all of them were intelligent and well-traveled and brought a lot of their experience into the movie. I am happy I got to work with these actors and they all have become friends for life.
Also a special word of mention to my editor Shreyas Beltangdy, my DOP Binendra Menon, My Sound Designer Ravidev Singh, Art Director Pradipta Ray….all these guys and my entire team went out of the way to pull off this indie film.
Any interesting incident related to the making of the film?
In fact, the non-seasonal rains in Goa during our 22-day shoot really kept us on our toes. My entire team would be praying that it doesn’t rain, and then it rains. So finally I had to make the decision to keep going and thus rain has found its way into Love, Wrinkle-free. This is probably what they call as the magic of cinema: Be open to anything…
What are you working on next?
I have a few scripts with me, but the one theme that I want to explore the most would be my next film. I want to start it by December this year.
Tell us about your background.
I grew up in Trivandrum, Kerala. Then, I moved to Mumbai when I was 21 and assisted Mr. Bhansali on Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. After which I left for Bangalore, joined advertising as a Copywriter, worked in close to 25 companies since I was this restless sort of guy, then came back to Mumbai and started writing weekly TV shows with Abhinav Kashyap, after which I started independently directing music videos, corporate films, shorts etc. before moving into my first feature.