With his short films featured at several Queer film festivals & events, Gaysi catches up with the popular aspiring filmmaker, Nakshatra at the recently concluded Kashish International Queer Film Festival (Mumbai).
Q. Before we begin on the center point of this interview, please tell us a bit about yourself.
Hola! I am Nakshatra. I am a filmmaker and actor. I make short films with a queer theme. My films Logging Out, Book of Love, Curtains represent the current LGBT scenario in India. Born and brought up in Mumbai, I am an active part of gay activism. I won the Audience choice Award at KASHISH – Mumbai International Queer Film Festival in 2012 for my debut film “Logging Out”. It was screened at Queens Museum of Arts (New York), The Old Cinema (London) and it was also a part of Queer India European tour 2012 to raise awareness about Indian LGBT issues.
I completed my graduation from the Mumbai University in mass media with a specialization in advertising. I started making films on zero budgets in a one man army style by writing, directing, acting, producing & editing.
Q. Your short film “Curtains” which was screened at the recent Kashish Queer Film Festival in Mumbai was based on the reality of Queers in the closet. What inspired you to work on this issue?
As a proud gay person who is out of the closet fearlessly, I understand the importance of being out as gay. It creates an impact on people’s point of view about the queer community and it surely brings a positive change in the scenario. I wanted to inspire people from the queer community to come out or at least feel proud of themselves rather than cursing God for making them queer.
I also wanted to show the society the emotional roller coaster that a queer person goes through. I also wanted to reach the wider part of the society and that is the reason why I released a Hindi version of Curtains along with the English version.
So yes! It has some flavor of activism and it talks about bringing the change.
Q. You wrote, directed and acted in the film. Did you prepare the script keeping yourself in mind or was it unintentional?
It all happened out of the blue. I was working on my project “Xmas Story” and at night I was sitting in the window while writing its final script. I found myself unknowingly playing with curtains of my window and I took a pause and this whole concept sparked in me. I got so excited that I decided to work on this concept first. On the same night I ended up writing the script of ‘Curtains’. On the next night I shot and at morning it was all set to be completed at editing desk. I wasn’t ready to have the patience for casting or planning, and on the other hand I was confident about me delivering this role. My mom had shot the last scene of “Curtains” which makes it more special for me.
Q. Could you tell us about some of the hurdles you faced while making “Curtains”?
There was no question about money or technology because I wanted this one to be a zero budget project. Other than smoking for a non smoker like me, I faced a psychological issue while making ‘Curtains’. I had to rewind myself back by almost 5-6 years when I was in that depression and decided to move out of that. Like I said earlier, everything happened so fast that I had very short time to prepare myself mentally to feel like being a closeted gay person. And trust me for a proud gay person like me, it’s really a tough role.
Q. What kind of response did you get at Kashish?
I am proud to be a part of the curtain raiser package of Kashish 2013. Really appreciate the kind of response “Curtains” received at 10 am in the morning and that too on a working day. People especially liked my Q & A session. Audience was pretty supportive; I could hear whistles during Curtain’s screening and loud noise of claps when my name was called out. People also told me that I’ve improved so much on mic skills; people liked what I spoke and they were happy to see me justifying their expectations from me after “Logging Out”.
Q. Any new film projects in the pipeline?
Yes! Will be working on new projects throughout the year but currently my 5th short film named PR (Public Relations) is in the process. After failing to get hot dates in town, a young teenage boy discovers a gay dating site called – Public Relations (PR). He jumps into a new world where he comes face to face with new online people, their crazy motives, funny communication, reality and an emotional roller coaster. Hopefully it will be live on YouTube in a few weeks.
Q. Any message for young aspiring filmmakers like yourself?
We, young filmmakers and especially first timers hesitate to work on simple modules. All want something grand to start with. I personally like to start from the basic and then improve. We can’t really complain about lack of funding and equipments. Just get a handycam and shoot it. Finally I believe what matters is the story which you are telling. For me, how you are telling the story and how stylish you are making it are secondary things and perfect examples are “Logging Out” and now “Curtains”. The reason people appreciated them even though they are lacking technological advancement is that you can relate to them. Focus on the product first, packaging can be done later.