Hello to all you folks! We have the award-winning director Onir with us on #BlabWithSandy this week. Onir has delivered some of the most thought provoking, gritty and hard hitting films to us like My Brother…Nikhil, Bas Ek Pal, Sorry Bhai!, I AM, Shab, and Kuch Bheege Alfaaz. Let’s wait no further and dive into the blab I had with him:
Sandy: Hello Onir ji. Welcome to Blab with Sandy. It’s my pleasure to have you onboard. 🙂
Onir: Hello Sandeep. 🙂
Sandy: How and when did films interest you? How did it all start?
Onir: When I was in my class 8th, films started becoming a part of my curriculum. Watching films was a family thing for us. I used to watch art house films, Hollywood, and films like Junoon by Shyam Benegal became a part of my journey.
Whilst my 10th class, I started attending film festivals to watch different kinds of films. That’s how my inclination towards films began.
Sandy: Your film My Brother…Nikhil created a new wave in Bollywood cinema. It was a subject which was never really touched upon by many. It was based on real life incident. Few anecdotes on it.
Onir: I never get excited to do the same routine cinema which usually happens in Bollywood. Comedy, action, and rom-coms never excited me as much as cinema which dwells on real life situations.
I am not someone whose mission was to become a director. I had a vision to tell a story which is different from others. I get inspired from real life scenarios and that’s how My Brother…Nikhil came out!
Sandy: Bas Ek Pal was again a different take at relationships. The film’s music is still remembered by many. Sorry Bhai! was a notch above the random. It was hilarious yet thought provoking take on relationships. Why are all your films are based on relationships? I shall try to incorporate a new genre of cinema called “relationships” for you, hahaha!Onir: Ha-ha! The most precious thing is relationship. I cherish relationships and that’s something which drives me a lot! I love to showcase different shades present in a relation. It’s not at all judgmental but it is all about spreading the different colors of a relationship.
Sandy: I AM won you many awards. It had four trivial stories set up in one film. How difficult was it to make this film and bring it to the audience?
Onir: No studio or a financier backed the subject of I AM. We went with crowd funding. I believed in what I was doing, and it worked out finally. All the cast and crew took peanuts as remuneration. With no backing from industry people, it indeed was difficult but with sheer struggle, we made it to the theatres and festivals.
For almost all my films, the struggle towards its making and release has been constant. Only now is the time that the mindset is slightly changing but there is a long way to go!
My films have never been nominated in Indian awards whereas I have been given the National Award. The industry is non-supportive to certain type of cinema and that’s the kind of cinema I make.
Sandy: You have worked the most with Sanjay Suri and Juhi Chawla. How was the working experience with them?
Onir: They are thorough professionals and amazing actors. Their performances are honest because they surrender to the directors’ vision.
Working with Juhi was fabulous. I always wanted to work with her and make her perform in a role which she hadn’t done before. She had thanked me for giving her I AM.
I must admit, when no studio came forward to release our film, it was Juhi who put in her money for its release.
Sanjay is an actor who is sensitive, daring, and intelligent. I enjoy working with him and he is more like family.
Quick Shot Round:
- Bollywood: Playing safe
- Love: A journey
- A film you think u could have done a better job with: Every film
- An actor whose work you liked recently: Ayushmann Khurrana
- Biggest regret in life: Being blinded in love
- If not a director, Onir would have become: Writer (which I already am) 🙂
- A film of yours you rate the best: I AM
- Politics: Lie
- A film you regret doing: Bas Ek Pal (I was not aware of the story being based on a Spanish book and we had no rights. So, I don’t feel good about it)
- One good thing and one bad thing about the industry: Good: Makes dreams come true. It makes one smile, laugh and cry Bad: It generally values money more than doing something right!
- Your favorite genre: No favorite genre but I do have genres which I don’t like, haha! Horror, slapstick comedy aren’t my favorites. I don’t like action too!
- Given a power to change something in the industry, what would you change? I would have a separate chain of theatres for world and independent cinema
- Homosexuality: Evolved (I mean such people seem more kinder) 🙂
- The film of yours which was the easiest to shoot: Sorry Bhai! (except the release)
- Raveena Tandon: Friend
- Onir is superstitious about: I am an atheist
- You are stuck in an island and can carry only 3 things. What would those be? My lover, books to read, and…I am not getting the third thing. I guess I don’t even need three things, lol!
- Favorite holiday destinations: When I travel, I discover. Let’s say Himalayas.
- If you had to barter one habit with Sanjay Suri, it would be? I’d give him my smoking habit and take the non-smoking habit of his 🙂
- Mandatory essentials you carry on a film set: Script and shot break down
- Favorite South actors/actresses: Kamal Hasan, Arvind Swamy, Revathy
- Onir gets angry when: Someone is dishonest
- Onir: the editor or the director? Director
- Anything that you’d like to change in your films if given a chance: Change my lead actor in Kuch Bheege Alfaaz
Sandy: Your take on Section 377.
Onir: I don’t see an overnight change. There is a change, but it will still take ages for receiving acceptance. Mindsets need to change for the good. Coming to films too, the audience needs to throng the theatres to watch sensitive and realistic cinema.
Sandy: What’s in the pipeline for you in the coming months?
Onir: Completed the scripts of my upcoming film Driving Lesson. Just like I AM, I have named my another one as U and I. I never plan much, I go with the flow. 🙂
Sandy: Is there any piece of advice you would like to give the youngsters who are trying to venture into cinema?
Onir: I keep receiving messages asking me to give them one chance. Some say they come from middle class families and don’t have money to enter films. Don’t ask for chances as you need to prove that you are at least half a worth of that chance.
I came from a middle-class family. I went to classes, tuition, studied hard and simultaneously worked hard to get into films. Film is a job which is expensive. You need to strive hard and you will find your way out. Be unique and don’t try to replicate others.
Editor’s note: It was indeed a privilege to have spoken to Onir. I love his films, for they showcase different shades that a relationship actually contains within itself. Wishing Onir a smooth ride ahead for all his cinematic endeavors. And yes, I hope there shall be more takers to realistic and sensitive cinema in the coming days. 🙂
Interview by Sandy (Sandeep Rao)