Film Education

SVKM J.V. Parekh International School ‘Film’ Batch 2011-2013 taught by Oorvazi Irani- An Interview with the students
IBDP FINAL FILM PROJECT 2011-2013 Director: Rahul Sharma Script writer: Nidhi Panicker Cinematographer: Shahrukh Anklesaia  Editor: Mikhail Shah

Director: Rahul Sharma
Script writer: Nidhi Panicker
Cinematographer: Shahrukh Anklesaia
Editor: Mikhail Shah


IBDP Film Course – Three Final Projects, one of which is to make a final short film. The International Baccalaureate® (IB) offers four high quality international education programmes to more than one million students in 145 countries.

Our school SVKM J.V.Parekh International School is probably the only IB school that offers Film as a subject in Mumbai and one of the rare schools from India.

“HUMA” : We are proud to announce that our film was considered by an IB moderator as one of the best technically made films from IB schools all over the world this year.

                                                         And I Graduated yet again !


Oorvazi Irani

Stills from the film “Huma”

A special thanks to Tanmayee Thakur (SVKM A level student) who played the title role of Huma in the film as she brought the character to life and embodied the spirit of Huma in real life too. And I also thank Kanika Khanna for bringing Huma’s friendship to life by sharing her off line chemistry online as friends.





Our highest score in the subject of film in the past two batches I have joined has been over 95% and a Grade 7 and this year all 4 students did not get less than a Grade Six (Grade 7 being the highest). Having said that the film class has been a journey beyond grades and marks but a learning that we will all not forget for years to come.

From the first disaster film in Year One “A Street Outside our School” to their final film “Huma” in Year Two what a journey it has been of sweat and tears, joy and success.

My film students teach me each day about myself, life, and my subject of film. Each question, each answer, each exercise, each struggle and each success was all shared and I graduated once again with flying colours.

Rahul taught me that ‘believe and you will be rewarded’. He made a great film “Huma” as an auteur director with his team and made me proud. And helped me continue the legacy after Altamash Jalel from my last batch.

Altamash and Rahul my Auteur directors

Altamash and Rahul my Auteur directors

Shahrukh taught me ‘how to be cool whatever the situation and impressed me with his visual poetry in “Huma” which was a very important part of the success of the film.

Mikhail taught me ‘ that I could  succeed in nurturing a taste for cinema beyond entertainment’ and how to be ‘bindas’. He impressed me with his eye for detail and minute observations as an editor which helped mold the final film “Huma” and make it what it is.

Nidhi taught me ‘hard work and sincerity can make a difference’ even if you wake up last minute. She laid the foundation as the writer of the film “Huma” and impressed me with her powerful idea of the symbolic burkha which was rooted in rebellion and a positive quest for freedom for the woman and all mankind.


Shahrukh,Rahul, Nidhi, Mikhail

1.       What is the most memorable day in film class and why?

Shahrukh_Profile pic

Shahrukh: These two years, as we all trot along the banks of creativity and knowledge; there were several occasions or I might as well call them opportunities, when we were to dive into the this alien waters. As exciting as it may sound, it was eerie indeed. I distinctly remember the first day at the sets for the production of our film, Huma. I could feel the adrenaline gush through my veins, that feeling had the power to change things. It was quite the memorable experience to be standing on this tender threshold holding onto the camera, bringing dreams and ideas to life.

Rahul_profile_picRahul: The most memorable day in film “class” was basically outdoors. It was the first day of the shooting phase for out film. You cannot call it a class, but basically our final project. I was directing “Huma- the bird of paradise” (my first ever short film) and enthusiasm and energy soared inside me as I used all my previous knowledge to shoot the sequences. Directing those sequences, deciding the shots, choreographing the actors and thinking of the outcome with a tinge of nervous anxiety flowing within me on the first shooting day is a good memory.

Nidhi_profile_picNidhi: To me the most memorable class was the day when we had to take pictures and come back to class, I found that very interesting and different.

Mikhail_Profilepic_2Mikhail: The most memorable day for me would be when we were discussing our ideas for the IB final project. Many ideas were given which lead to more ideas and finally narrowing down to one story for the film. Also the day when we discussed about the evolution of special effects in cinema and the research work that I started with your help.

2.     What is the feeling on the first day of film class and the last day of film. Did anything change?

Shahrukh_Profile picShahrukh: The change is so drastic that I possibly cannot put it down on paper. The first day, was more or less dull and I had no idea about where this carriage was leading me to. By the end of this journey I felt worthy of something, it felt like I had learnt something which I will be carrying forth for the rest of my lifetime. And this wasn’t the case for all the subjects I had chosen for the diploma program; it was only ‘films’ that dug so deep and metamorphosed me.

Rahul_profile_picRahul: Well, walking into film class the first day was really different as I was slightly conscious and unprepared. Although I was exposed to a lot of auteur directors such as Akira Kurosawa and Stanley Kubrick before, I did not understand their works deeply: I wouldn’t even have known the meaning of an “auteur” then. I remembered how we started off by discussing compositions and I clearly was nervous and tensed.

Jumping the scenes two years: In film language (CUT TO): The time when my last class took place: everything had changed. I was editing my final draft of the “Independent Study” on the topic of the New Wave Cinema which I had decided to work on. I wouldn’t have even known the meaning and importance of the term “New Wave” back then. Well, everything had changed. I had learned about different kinds of cinema movements such as Italian Neorealism, German Expressionism and had been exposed to a lot of genres, all thanks to you.

Nidhi_profile_picNidhi: My first day I was very excited and anxious at the same time scared as to what the class would be like and whether I would be able to coup up with the curriculum as I was late. On the last day I was still scared and anxious but I could sense more confidence in me. And I was extremely sad that this beautiful journey we had embarked on had come to an end.

Mikhail_Profilepic_2Mikhail: I joined the subject later in the second semester thus i missed out a lot but never the less I tried to cope with it.

On the first day honestly I was kind of bored since our teacher discussed some French new wave cinema thing. I am a typical mumbaikar who enjoys bollywood masala movies and mostly watched Bollywood movies in free time, but once i got to know more and more about cinema I realize that there is a world beyond BollyWood and Hollywood, famously known as World Cinema or Art Cinema. In the start i often got bored but as we studied many conventions and aspects of filmmaking and cinema, it got interesting and I started enjoying and appreciating World Cinema too.

By the end of this 2 year filmy journey, I realised that I have learnt so much about cinema and I am gonna miss it very much and I do, the lengthy awesome and tiring tuesday film classes, the nagging of our teacher asking us to complete our assignments, the discussions, etc. I would say, in the start, I was raw, appreciated only bollywood and hollywood movies with famous star cast but now I have somewhat polished my views and thoughts towards Cinema and I hope to learn more, as my teacher advised me recently that Filmmaking and cinema are very vast and teaches you many things, always keep on learning process on and never stop, keep on perceiving.

So this is me on the first day and me on the last day and current day.

3. What did I teach you as a film teacher which is the most valuable to you?

Shahrukh_Profile picShahrukh: I could go on and on about the knowledge and experience Oorvazi ma’am has imparted and shared with us through this short span of time. But I think, the most valuable lesson I have penned down is how to appreciate films, and not only films but life as a whole.

Rahul_profile_picRahul: Apart from exposing me to a variety of films, genres and movements (the art of film) and the craft (editing, cinematic techniques), you taught me great values such as humbleness, chivalry. Not only did you take the initiative to correct me when I went hyper-tensed over a petty issue, but you also took great interest in my overall development.

Nidhi_profile_picNidhi: TEAM WORK!! One of the most valuable lessons I learnt personally was that it’s all about team work whether you like the people with you or not at a personal level you should not let that interfere with your work. And honesty.

Mikhail_Profilepic_2Mikhail: You thought me to keep on learning and perceiving and not to give up when one comes across difficult tasks. You thought me how to appreciate Cinema as a whole. And I thank you to make me the person i am today.

4. Can you share one incident during these two years which shares our relationship as a teacher and student ? And which were the most challenging and rewarding times together?

Shahrukh_Profile picShahrukh: I possibly breached each and every deadline communicated to me, perhaps for all my assignments and I couldn’t get myself steady to finish them. The final IB examinations were approaching quick and the rate at which I progressed was horrendous. So, Oorvazi ma’am calls me over to her office, sits with me for the next couple of hours and sees to it that I do my work. To top it up with a cherry, she serves food so that I keep going. This kind of affection and attention is beyond comprehension. These were the most challenging as well as rewarding times for me.

Rahul_profile_picRahul: I remember when I was giving my mock textual analysis for IB and could not get it perfectly right, you just told me I’m not being myself and I can definitely do better. You pushed me one step further which made me believe in myself more. This is what you have done during these two years.

The most challenging part was after the shooting ended. The editing and music of the film began, and this needed various ideas and thought processes. Giving the film a firm structure, designing the sound and composing music tracks was challenging as well as rewarding.

Nidhi_profile_picNidhi:  According to  the most rewarding and challenging time would be when I had come to your office to do my independent study and I was having so much trouble starting off, that day was definitely challenging I remember staying at your office till around 11pm. That day turned out to be very rewarding and I am sure it helped me get the 6 in film:P

Mikhail_Profilepic_2Mikhail: I would and have to say the time during the FIlm independent study on Evolution of special effects. I ragged my brains day and night and you were worried and constantly on my head to meet the deadlines. Hahaha, I dont know what would i have done without you, i would have may be failed Film HL OR would not have faired well in my subject. Those long talks in classes regarding the content of my study, the long phone calls, working after school on my Independent Study at your “THE STUDY”. I mean it was crazy and frustrating and annoying and fun and tense and everything, all feelings together. And rewarding times would be all those moments when we finished our assignments and accomplished something.

5. What does film mean to you today and has your notion changed over time and why ?

Shahrukh_Profile picShahrukh: ‘Film’ has so many varied meanings for me today. It could be a compilation of books, it could be the story of my life, it could mean existence and feelings and life and emotions and art and so much more. Earlier, from films what I used to connote is entertainment, glamour and fame. My notions changed drastically with time.

Rahul_profile_picRahul: Honestly, I used to watch film only for entertainment until I started taking a deep interest in the processes involved behind the scenes. The interest started growing around a year before I did IB and was in its initial phases. Today, film to me is the essence of life: there are different portrayals and meanings which people try to explain life: the involved relationships, the hardships, its true meaning,

Nidhi_profile_picNidhi: Even though I have not perused film as one of my majors I plan to peruse it as a minor at university, I notice the difference in me even when I am just watching a movie as a stress buster, unconsciously I find myself saying ohh this is a mid-shot or a long shoot or this is a jump cut etc. And these are technicalities that I found very difficult to understand during my course.

Mikhail_Profilepic_2Mikhail: A film for me is nothing but a story presented by a visionary person (director) who tries to mix his perception regarding some topic and tries to make the audience relate to his story telling which is the film. For me film would be showcasing hidden emotions and showcasing perception to a large audience and trying to make a change not a change change but touching the audience’s heart which makes them appreciate the directors perception and work.


6. What did you expect of the film subject and is there something that did not meet your expectations?

Shahrukh_Profile picShahrukh: My expectations were simply to learn ‘how’ to make a film, but what I acquired was so much more than that. I learnt how to make my audience feel the way I do through this beautiful medium of expressionism.

Rahul_profile_picRahul: The IB film course is extremely well designed: it deals with both the art and craft of film making as you have to make a film and a trailer (learning the craft), write a portfolio supporting it (learning the art behind the craft). Moreover, the components: “textual analysis” and “independent study” help to give you a greater overall perspective as you get deeply nourished with understanding cinema of different places of different era.

Nidhi_profile_picNidhi: To be very honest I didn’t come in with any expectations, personally I feel that is the best way to begin a new journey.

Mikhail_Profilepic_2Mikhail: I expected film as a subject to be more based on practicals and less theory, but it was some what more assignments, theory and less practical. But nevertheless I got to learn a lot about cinema so cant really complain. Wish IB had 3 years hahaha.

7. Any special message to your  IB film juniors ?

Shahrukh_Profile picShahrukh: Passion is what drove me and so let the technicalities take a back seat. Work on the pre-production thoroughly so that the rest of the process moves smooth. And Oorvazi ma’am is possibly the best mentor as well as a friend you are going to have; make the most of it.

Rahul_profile_picRahul: I would simply put my message to my juniors: Enjoy your classes, make the most of your time, watch new films, explore ideas, be open minded and sharing, understand new techniques (they are very simple, just seem hard) and most importantly: explore yourself! And if you need any help, do not hesitate to contact me.

Nidhi_profile_picNidhi:  Stay focused and DO YOUR INDDEPENDENT STUDY ASAP!!! And honestly listen to the advice mam gives you because it is extremely valuable and still helps me!

Mikhail_Profilepic_2Mikhail: Dear Juniors,

What ever you do, put in your heart in it because at the end of the day its gonna help you. Trust your teacher, do what she asks you to do, that way you’ll be saving alot of your time and also will be learning alot from them. Trust your school and trust your teachers. They do whats best for you, well, things might not go according to you and you may find them annoying but know this fact that they want you to succeed and not fall on your face. Theirs ways might be somewhat annoying, i understand, but at the end they are trying to make u a winner.

Dedicate yourself to film, its a beautiful subject and you learn a lot, and yes ENJOY EVERY SECOND OF YOUR FILM CLASS cause you are definitely gonna miss it once ur done with IB.

Make the most of it.

8. Do you feel the experience has taught you something beyond film too and if so what is that ?

Shahrukh_Profile picShahrukh: As I mentioned earlier, the experience has had a solid impact on my life and on me as an individual. It gives me the power to see the world, actually see things which were always there but never got noticed and observe surroundings better than I usually would. It has taught me how to reflect better on myself and things around me.

Rahul_profile_picRahul: It has definitely taught me a lot of qualities and has taught me to interact with people and help in guiding people. When I directed, I was technically not doing anything: it was my friend Shahrukh who was doing the cinematography and the actors who were acting but I was just guiding them, telling them the vision I had: the feelings and emotions I need and how it should appear on screen. So, I definitely have learned to subconsciously motivate and guide people during their work, which can not only help me as a director but also in other aspects.

Nidhi_profile_picNidhi: Like I said the advices you have given me even the small ones (the ones you thought I wasn’t paying attention too and at the time I didn’t feel it important:P) still helps me today.

Mikhail_Profilepic_2Mikhail: LEARN LEARN LEARN, REPEAT REPEAT REPEAT. It has thought me to love what i like and work towards it with passion. Today you might loose because of one aspect, what do you do, learn from it, tomorrow you win with that one aspect.

To Read about my interesting Journey for my previous Film Batch Click on these links below where I talk about the IB Film Projects in greater detail.

My Journey teaching film at the SVKM IB School (Batch 2010 – 2012)

IB Film Experience: Altamash Jaleel (Batch 2010 – 2012)

To know more about the IB board

To know more about SVKM J.V.Parekh International School


“Lootera”: An Indepth Acting Analysis of the film By Oorvazi Irani

Both poster

It is through the close-up that we “discover the soul of things.” – Béla Balázs, film theorist


A film comes to life with actors, it is the actors who make you cry and laugh. And all the efforts of all the artists and technicians including the director is consummated in the act of acting, that is the final medium through which the film gets transmitted from the creators to the audience.

According to the “Natyashashtra” the ancient Indian text on art and aesthetics, there are four kinds of abhinayas(means of communication for an actor) postulated by Bharat Muni. They are categorized as angika, pertaining to the movement of head, torso and limbs;vacika, consisting of speech; sattvika, expressive of deep emotions indicated by subtle facial changes, and aharya, related to the use of costume. And further the “Natyashastra” states that mastering the sattvika is a true indication of a great artist and to be strived for.

The human face has 43 muscles and various combinations can create more than 10,000 expressions and the face, is the greatest tool for an actor in cinema to make the audience deeply identify with the world they inhabit and make them experience a new reality.

Béla Balázs, an international film theorist argues that it is through the stylistic technique of the close-up that we are able to reveal human subjectivity in film. Close-ups reveal the most hidden areas of our life and allow us as viewers to notice those minute details that we typically overlook. Balázs asserts that it is through the technique of the close-up that we “discover the soul of things.”

It is this very close-up that struck me about Vikramaditya’s film “Lootera” and I will attempt to analyze the film in relation to acting with this powerful tool of cinema, which I feel is often overlooked by some amateur filmmakers or is not acknowledged by a sensitive audience. However I will also address in the process the other means of filmmaking that aid an actor in his art and craft of acting.

We live life through moments and similarly when we experience a film we feel and identify with the acting beats and moments of the character and if strung together could be conceived as an ‘Actor’s Script’ and a character arc emerges, which I will attempt to unveil for the two main lead protagonists in this article – Pakhi Roy Chaudhary and Varun Shrivastav.

The first half of the film, till the intermission strongly belongs to the character of Pakhi and thus I begin with her character arc for the first half of the film.

“Lootera” Part One

A) Pakhi Roy Chaudhary – performed by Sonakshi Sinha

Pakhi is introduced as a character suffering from Asthma and her close bond with her zamindar father is established, located in the picturesque town of Manikpur (West Bengal) in the era of the 1950’s.

The character of Pakhi is brought to life with the soundtrack as much as the visuals right from the beginning of the film. Besides the Bengali character that the music establishes it is the heavy breathing and choking on the soundtrack of an asthma attack that gets linked to the identity of Pakhi and with that a pain and struggle to survive that comes into play which overshadows her character, it’s very different from introducing a character with giggles for instance.

Pakhi’s character as scripted and her bond with her father comes to life with the small nuances of facial expressions that the actor shares onscreen with the audience. It is her charm and warmth that is visible in her eyes that makes us want to enter this world that has been scripted by the filmmaker and we thus journey with her into this parallel reality.

Pakhi falling in love with Varun, who comes to her village posing as an archaeologist




Sonakshi mirror

As an audience we experience Pakhi falling in love with Varun and how is that done? Ofcourse it’s in the script and the art direction and cinematography and the soundtrack that make the scene possible but it is only because of the actor Sonakshi that you really want to believe that it’s true. Every glance, every gesture brings to life the beauty of the scene right from Sonakshi biting her lip mischievously while playfully switching the lights on and off, admiring herself in the mirror or simply looking at Varun with so much spoken through her eyes – naughtiness, joy, yearning,warmth, contentment all enclosed in the emotion of love and romance. And I feel Sonakshi here fulfills this need of a period film very aptly by being expressive with her eyes and takes us in to the old world charm aided by the costume, jewellery and art direction.

I would also like to make a special mention here of two integral scenes of the love story

POND reflection

pond conversation_Sonakshi

pond Ranveer

The two lovers are framed in a beautiful setting of nature by the pond, just having finished a painting session. A beautiful moment captured which we realize latter as an audience is an integral plot point to the film where Varun reveals to Pakhi his desire to paint a masterpiece before he dies. Close ups of the two actors are of course integral to the scene but a highlight of the scene is the use of whispers in the dialogue after a critical point in the scene. Sonakshi as an actor executes her acting abilities this time consisting of speech with beautiful precision and brings to life a special touch of tenderness that makes the scene rise above the mundane. Of course the director(along with other creative artists who might be responsible for this) too need to be given due credit for this choice and in cinema an actor’s final performance is never complete without the choices of the director, as cinema is a director’s medium.

archaelogy site

Another powerful scene in the film is when Sonakshi is able to express the yearning and pain for Varun after their small separation that he inflicted on her. Through her eyes the dialogues get a resonance of truth that touches a chord in you. This is when she visits Varun at the archeology site and asks him when he would return for his painting session. She urges him, will you come tomorrow, day after, the day after that, and the words ring true with emotion…and each line is full of expectation and yearning. And the scene ends fittingly with Pakhi emotionally charged and vulnerable, asking an innocent, yet bold question “Aap mujhse pyaaar karte ho …Varunbabu”. And like in every scene the actions and words and how they are delivered continued to paint the character of Pakhi besides expressing emotions.

A missed opportunity as an actor to explore the 'expressive object'

A missed opportunity as an actor to explore the ‘expressive object’

However one tiny scene caught my attention but for the missed opportunity it portrayed. There is a point where Pakhi puts on Varun’s coat, wears his hat and holds a cigarette in her hand but as an actor Sonakshi did not make the props potent ‘expressive objects’ which could take the scene to another level and could be a memorable moment in the film. Of course this was not a scene set out in the film and maybe if it was given more screen time it could be worked on by all concerned. But it’s significant how an actor can infuse life into inanimate objects and how that object can become an extension or means of revealing feelings and character and this remains one of the areas I feel the film did not explore to a great extent. Successful popular instances are – the use of the kane by Charlie Chapman or Marlon Brandon’s use of a glove and other objects in the film “On the Waterfront”.

Pakhi heartbroken and devastated when Varun’s true identity of being a ‘Lootera’ (conman) is been revealed when he abandons their marriage and robs the valuable ancestral idol from the village, and runs away.

Among the few scenes in the film, I found this scene when Pakhi is told by her father about Varun’s betrayal as lacking in the scripting and execution and rather than an integral scene it seemed to be treated as a transition scene with less attention to detail and depth. The scene was essentially limited to two or three shots and the close up of the father and daughter being essential to the impact of the betrayal. However Sonakshi was limited in her impact and seemed to be given little space or directions to execute these shots to satisfaction. One close-up was sufficient with no dialogue but the emotion was not conveyed.

B) Varun Shrivastav – performed by Ranveer Singh

Varun’s introduction when Pakhi throws him off the road in a minor car incident


bike fall Ranveer

The first half of the film does not do justice to Varun or rather Varun does not do justice to the role in the first half. This is a shot that introduces the audience to his character and the beginning of his love story and meeting with Pakhi but the look on Ranveer’s face when the camera is capturing his character on screen is not effective to want you to identify with him, you rather feel there is no inner life happening when the camera is on him. Having said that making a film is a daunting task and achieving perfection in every scene is sometimes not a liberty for an actor or director who has deadlines and budget constraints and just has to move on.

Varun’s responding to Pakhi’s flirtations and losing a grip over his own feelings and falling in love


It seemed like the script did not develop the nuances for the character of Varun or is it that the actor Ranveer could not build a unique character strong enough to hold his ground against Sonakshi. Had the actor transformed into another character or was he playing a restricted part of himself. Ranveer in his interviews does share with us his director’s advice about not moving his hands too much as he normally does. Yes that did help make a shift to the role required but could something more in-depth be done as an artist to actually bring to life another human being. Ranveer does say that he was influenced by Sonakshi in being more spontaneous as an acting style rather than his more studied research based method to acting but a preparation that equips you for spontaneity according to me is the ideal way to proceed and spontaneity alone cannot equip an actor without a thorough grounding.

It seemed right for the camera to have Sonakshi in the frame for a close-up at significant moments because her face was more expressive and she seemed more effortless in her responses.

Can lighting help an actor and director convey dimensions of character? Pakhi comes to Varun’s room late at night to express her feelings for him. As Varun opens the door we see a deliberate shadow on his eyes keeping us in the dark about his emotions and intentions for a brief few moments. The scene does progress to show his eyes briefly which I felt broke the spell for the scene. However it’s mostly Pakhi who we see and rightly so, as if we ask the question from the point of view of the script – whose scene is it? it would be Pakhi who we identify with and she is the character moving the action forward in the scene. This similar lighting of deep shadow and concealing the eyes is played with in the scene when Varun is pressurized by his chacha to give up his love and return to work the next day. The similar lighting setup adds an interesting connect to the two scenes and could be thematically explored. If the whispers in the soundtrack in the earlier scene convey tenderness to the lovestory then the lighting in the scenes with shadow and specially concealing Varun’s eyes help bring out the dilemma that he faces in this love story

Varun’s dilemma as a conman and his profession which prevent him to have a relationship and a normal life and he finally chooses his duty over love

The director Vikramaditya seen behind the scenes in 'the making of Lootera' with Ranveer Singh

The director Vikramaditya seen behind the scenes in ‘the making of Lootera’ with Ranveer Singh

here is a close-upjust before we see Varun leave the haveli, which could go past almost unnoticed where for a very brief moment we see Varun looking at the mirror with a tear rolling down his eye. Maybe its intentional to keep the mystery going for the second half of the film. But as a performance it remains a potent close-up not fully exploited by the director and actor and maybe here the editor plays an important role in choosing to shape the impact of the performance of the actor in that particular instance as very powerful performances are made and broken due to the impact of a few frames being present or absent. But in the service of the final impact of the film the shot being brief is a significant choice.

The film after the intermission does bring a greater focus to Varun as a character but does not leave Pakhi far behind and the second half belongs to both these characters and how they resolve their love story. The film now shifts from Manikpur to Dalhousie in the atmosphere of a cold winter.

“Lootera” Part Two

Pakhi Roy Chaudhary – performed by Sonakshi Sinha &Varun Shrivastav – performed by Ranveer Singh

Pakhi betrayed in love, traumatized by her father’s death and coping with her deteriorating asthma condition is trying to find solace in writing a book about her life experience and seems to be struggling to succeed.

Pakhi is introduced here with a bland look and ailing face which gives the illusion of no makeup but many a times there is more makeup required to give the ‘no makeup’ look convincingly on film and it is the makeup as a tool that plays a big role in aiding the actor here to make the audience believe that she is sick and has lost the vitality of life.

The scene finds Sonakshi in a typical situation like a writer’s block and innumerable scenes in films where a character tries to write but keeps scratching out the text and tears the paper and throws it on the floor. Here again the pen in the hands of Sonakshi could be used as an ‘expressive object’ in an interesting manner but it did not go beyond the mundane.

However the beauty of the scene emerges with a violent cut into a sensitive flashback in close-up that follows where we see Pakhi effortlessly writing and interrupted by her lover and with the flashback the scene is complete and gets a unique dimension.

Behind the scenes 'the making of Lootera' Vikramaditya with Sonakshi and Ranveer

Behind the scenes ‘the making of Lootera’ Vikramaditya with Sonakshi and Ranveer

Here Sonakshi and Ranveer share one of their best chemistry in the film and feel really in love which seemed lacking in some parts of the film. The cinematography with the mosquito net that works as a veil over Sonakshi’s face creates a mesmerizing frame with beauty and softness and whispers on the soundtrack take over to elevate a simple trivial exchange to a romantic tenderness. But one point strikes me here is that maybe nuances of Pakhi’s literary world could be shared with the audience to shape a more realistic and complete persona which would help us identify with her intellectual space and thoughts.

Varun is hunted by the police and it is under these circumstances that he meets Pakhi again and takes refuge in her house in Dalhousie.

Ranveer gun

Ranveer returns into Pakhi’s life, this time not clean shaven and this reflects his slight shift in persona which aids him as an actor, seemingly now more macho and in control and the plot takes him to Paki’s doorstep, where he takes refuge in her home. Pakhi on seeing Varun is angry and sad as she feels he is responsible for her father’s death and exploited her and wants to hand him over to the police.
The scene in the film when Pakhi and Varun are confronted by each other seems to be treated with a commercial audience in mind rather than the artistic demands of the film. The scene starts with heavy asthmatic breathing and I felt if the soundtrack could have remained with that alone it could be very effective to create tension in a sensitive audience but the use of loud music in this scene submerges the soundtrack of breathing and the pain that it is so symbol of. The treatment of the scene is treated and acted both melodramatically which slightly robs it of its depth and realism.

However the second half of the scene is more sensitive and has an interesting Blocking of the actor Sonakshi which exploits her acting abilities and effectiveness of the character placement in the scene which is symbolic of the feelings towards each other at the same time gives the audience a pivotal point to observe the drama.

There is a beautiful use of the principle of ‘contrast’ put into play here where after the turbulence you now have calm which again gives way to turbulence but having a slightly differing quality to it. Pakhi faces her back to Varun and sits on a chair which faces the camera and the blocking is very symbolic yet cinematically exploited to get a brilliant view of Sonakshi slowly breaking into tears after Varun has exited the room and closed the door in the background. Its again the close up that allows this emotional moment to unfold so truthfully.

Varun then convinces Pakhi of his innocence and explains that he is a victim of circumstances and should not be held responsible for her father’s death. Varun and Pakhi’s love for each other is rekindled and Paki now wants to protect Varun from the Police.

In one of the acting highlights of Ranveer’s performance in this film is this scene where love is rekindled, where the emotional truth and effectiveness stand out. Also what makes the scene more challenging and thus memorable is the absence of dialogue and it is only through his moist eyes that the scene is conveyed. Ranveer mentions in his interviews that he attended acting workshops and for him the film was very challenging, one of the reasons being he had never as a character had to dig so deep into his emotions. The scene is poignant as its just after this scene that the plot reaches closer to its climax and we have the Police Inspector visit Pakhi and she now protects him from the Police rather than handing him over.

Varun confesses he loves Pakhi and Pakhi in turn is convinced of Varun’s love for her


Another beautiful scene in the film follows between both the actors is where they meet for the last time before their eminent separation. The scene starts with an interesting touch of humour to an otherwise painful experience, which is used by great directors like Satyajit Ray and others who have observed life and know its workings. Varun asks Pakhi “ You know what my real name is – AtmaramTripathy”. And this brings a precious smile to Pakhi’s face.

Another minute detail which is captured in a mid-shot is the body language of the two actors. They are both seated together on the sofa and they both look like mirror images, I don’t know if it was intentional or by default but like it is said that couples resemble each other with their body language after many years their love seemed to fuse them together or rather put them into perfect sync with one another.

And the whispers return and in close-up Pakhi says “Did you ever love me” and Varun says “Everybody used me, but only you loved me”.

Varun discovers Pakhi’s ailing condition and death wish through her writings and this time sacrifices his freedom and life for the sake of his beloved and does a final act of love which gives a new life to Pakhi. Varun knowing fully well that he has lost his chance to escape and walks to surrender to the police, but threatened by his actions he is shot to death.

Pakhi at the window silently expressing her desire to die with the falling of the last leaf

Pakhi at the window silently expressing her desire to die with the falling of the last leaf

Varun who ensures that the last leaf will never fall

Varun who ensures that the last leaf will never fall

Even though scenes are not shot in continuation in a film it seems like after the scene of the rekindling of love Ranveer as an actor is gaining his ground and brings his role to a good finish.It’s in the final moments of the film where Varun literally walks into the arms of death with pause and care that makes you look forward to the next film of this actor who in his dying achieves a glimpse of truth through the camera close-up enough to remain alive in our memory.

Pakhi’s life of suffering and hopelessness is transformed with the power of love into a desire to live. This is proof of Varun’s deep love for Pakhi.

The film concludes with a close-up of Pakhi where she discovers the masterpiece on the tree and with quick cuts into a flashback prior to that reminds us of the innocent romantic moments that make the film come a full circle round. The intercutting of the leaf on the tree and Sonakshi’s face is what fills the frame and underlying it all is the emotions that the actor portrays through her face which through the medium of the closeup we get so close to her. Her tears of joy and hope, love and pain, the choreography of the action – a glance and then a pause, a gentle look downwards and then again she faces the tree and in those small gestures, those choices, those unspoken words, in her eyes is enveloped the magic and experience of cinema. No novel can describe, no theatre can reveal the intimate brilliance of the actor’s depth than the humble close-up in cinema. And all that the filmmaker wants to say and wants you to feel is culminated in this last close up.


And now let me leave you with some food for thought. Who is an actor. What is acting. The basic challenge for an actor is to emote truthfully and transform into different characters. Therefore what is the process of an actor.Is using your personal memories the only devise an actor can and should use to create emotions. How many times is an actor truly successful in going beyond his own personality and bringing a character to life.The actor being ‘the instrument and the player’ of his art from is he therefore vulnerable as an artist as the tools of his art are inevitably linked to his emotions and his very own identity. Acting as an art form can either drive you crazy or it can lead you to the path of self-discovery and help you evolve as a human being.

Oorvazi Irani is an acting coach for professionals and amateurs and has introduced the Michael Chekhov Acting technique to India with her dvd of same

This Article is First Published on the website

“Ship Of Theseus” – A Film Musing by Oorvazi Irani

Ship of Thesus cover image copy

Being a film educationalist I am not comfortable making a claim that this film is path breaking as its not new cinematically and so much exciting has been happening ever since the birth of cinema  internationally and in India that these are not significant claims any longer but what is important for me is that its special. Its special for me personally as I am encouraged as an artist, as a filmmaker one more time, if a film is made and seen not for entertainment and passive viewing but for something deeper, meaningful and more engaging. It inspires the artist in me to believe in the medium of cinema as the art form of the future.

Here is an artist who is sensitive to the world and himself and has something to say, rather something to ask and his films are like a quest of that truth in which he involves the audience. I believe true art is about an exploration and is anchored in the real world. Are the questions new, or rather can they be new and can they go beyond self and existence if that is what we as humans are enveloped in. So its not about how radically new the questions are but how effectively they are posed and bought back to the forefront and what is the unique personal touch and experience of an artist that absorbs us in his work.

An important appeal of the film for me was the reality that it touched at many moments and the eye for detail right from the acting beats to the real life conversations to the symbolic little actions in the plot to the excellent sound design to the powerful poetic visuals that helped you enter into this parallel reality of the filmmaker’s world where as an audience we become one with his quest for identity and life itself. The reality like in great masters including Satyajit Ray is not just about reality as it sounds and looks but about how real it feels and therefore about the ‘truth’ in every moment. And this film tried to venture there, if it succeeded or not is up to each individual to decide and I or no one else is supposed to pass a judgment on that , is what I feel.

The audience is always free to make their own interpretations and experience the film the way they like but its also insightful to try and understand the world and concerns of the filmmaker and that is best known through his body of work. Even though this is Anand Gandhi’s debut feature his older short film and featurette hold some interesting similarities, concerns and style which put together tell a story, help you to understand “The Ship of Theseus” more deeply.  After seeing those films this seems like a beautiful evolution, as an artist, and I felt like I was traveling with a friend and each film took me one step ahead and I am eager to continue this journey where the worlds of the real merge and blur with the reel and a third reality is born.

I will leave you to comprehend for yourself the larger picture that these links of his earlier films tell you about him as an ‘auteur’ in theme and style and hopefully help you understand “Ship of Theseus” in a broader context of the artist and his art and gain a deeper understanding of his quest and make you engage in his art which is trying to reflect on our reality, is located in our world that we live in as human beings.

Let us not see a film to pass judgment but to experience another world, a reality that tries to bring us closer to our own world, our own reality.

“Right Here Right Now” 2003

30 Minutes ( uploaded in two parts) written and directed by Anand Gandhi.


“Continuum”  2006

40 minutes (uploaded in 5 parts)

(a featurette written and directed by Khushboo Ranka & Anand Gandhi)

Part One (Hunger)

Part Two (Trade and Love)

Part Three (Death)

Part Four (Enlightenment)

Part Five (Continuum)


“Ship Of Theseus” (2012) written and directed by Anand Gandhi

catch this film in theatres in Mumbai till 25th July 2013 (Thursday)

Close Encounters with Charles Sobhraj: The Serial Killer, By Oorvazi Irani
Charles Sobhraj with Oorvazi Irani in London - 2002

Charles Sobhraj with Oorvazi Irani in London – 2002

‘A filmmaker’s role is to probe reality not imitate it’

Any work of cinematic art is based on reality in some way or the other, more so if you choose to make a film on a real person – none other than the infamous serial killer Charles Sobhraj – it can prove to be exciting times and also dangerous times. What is the relationship of such a film to the real world, how does the film go beyond mere dramatizing facts and get elevated to delving on the human condition.

My company SBI Impresario Pvt. Ltd, which was incorporated by my dad, Sorab Irani in 1975 was probably the only Indian Company to buy the Option of the Film Rights from Charles Sobhraj of his memoirs ‘The Aftermath’ through his legal Literary Agents ‘Curtis Brown’ of London in 1998.

Farrukh Dhondy, Charles Sobhraj and Sorab Irani in London - 1998

Farrukh Dhondy, Charles Sobhraj and Sorab Irani in London – 1998

What is it about Charles Sobhraj’s life and crimes that is so fascinating to the public, filmmakers and writers in India and worldwide? What is it about evil, about serial killers, con men that catches our imagination as an audience? The answer probably lies in the conditioning of our minds today, our cynicisms, our uncanny willingness to readily believe more in the negative then the positive in people and stories and is it not true that a bite of the forbidden apple is infinitely more alluring and exciting compared to the experiences of our existentialistic mundane daily lives. We are bored, we wish to escape. So we fantasize, we want to flirt with danger, walk on the wild side, experience the adrenaline rush, secretly indulge ourselves, safe in the knowledge that it’s only fantasy. When this is collectively expressed in society it leads to our fascination of crime, murder and evil. We are crossing the line albeit in our imagination and however briefly we are identifying with evil. These were the thoughts that preoccupied my mind way back when I started working on our film project “Bottomline” and I feel are still relevant today.

Jackie Shroff as Charles Sobhraj - publicity still for the film “Bottomline” by Oorvazi Irani

Jackie Shroff as Charles Sobhraj – publicity still for the film “Bottomline” by Oorvazi Irani

Unlike other famous or rather infamous serial killers, Charles Shobhraj is alive in flesh and blood today, add to that his cunning and his ability to be one step ahead of the police of many countries, manipulate laws and people to achieving his own ends, with such ease and panache, all this put together paints a formidable portrait of a living criminal legend and a man who will remain an enigma. The making of a film is a great life enriching experience and the very process can become an integral part of the filmmaker’s life and live on with him or her even more then the effect the completed film may have on the audiences who have the prerogative to move on after viewing the film. As a filmmaker you journey into the world outside as well as your space within and each step takes you closer to the truth and these experiences linger on in life forever. This film took me to the doorsteps of Charles Sobhraj in the summer of 2002. What I intend to do here, is share my reflection of that journey as a filmmaker, as an artist, but above all as a human being.

We had signed up Jackie Shroff to play Charles Sobhraj for our film project “Bottomline”. Jackie was very excited and very keen to meet the man Charles in person. Reasonable request if he had to bring to life the persona of Charles Sobhraj on the silver screen. So we set out to London to meet the man – Dad, Jackie and myself. The meeting between Jackie and Charles was memorable. Charles was in awe of meeting a real Hindi Film Star who had come all the way to London just to meet him. Jackie was humbled and awestruck by the gentleness and unassuming nature of Charles, and needless to say it was a great picture opportunity.

Sorab Irani, director & producer in talks with the star Jackie Shroff in Mumbai - 2002

Sorab Irani, director & producer in talks with the star Jackie Shroff in Mumbai – 2002

Charles Sobhraj meets Jackie Shroff in London – 2002

Charles Sobhraj meets Jackie Shroff in London – 2002

The meeting was formal at first but later moved into other areas, but Jackie did not ask any telling questions. He later told us that he had so many questions in his mind but being in Charles’s presence, face to face, with the man himself, he said he just wanted to soak in the moment and leave the questions for later. I was also a like a silent witness observing. Dad was conducting the show making them both comfortable. Charles told us later he was happy with Jackie and that he would suit the role. Jackie like any other star for that matter was most excited and indeed grateful to Dad for the opportunity to essay the role of Charles and considered it a big break for him as an actor and a star.

Charles Sobhraj with Sorab Irani displaying the film poster “Bottomline” in London - 2002

Charles Sobhraj with Sorab Irani displaying the film poster “Bottomline” in London – 2002

Memories are never always in a chronological order, certain moments and incidents remain etched in your memory and others fade away. Maybe what remains and why is significant and itself tells a story. Besides the formal meeting another interesting experience of being with Charles was that of being driven by Charles in his car and circling the streets of London for a long time to find an address. Like everyone else in London who would refer to the great London ‘A to Z’ Charles would have nothing of it, he wanted us to believe he knew London as the back of his hand, while it was obvious that we were lost. It’s not the image I had of a serial killer. His misadventure was making us late for an appointment and after a point; he himself seemed to be a bit embarrassed. I was however sort of enjoying the ride and he several times, like we do in India, stopped to ask individuals on streets for directions to get back on track. I guess an Indian habit of sorts.

Strangely we were very confident that no harm would come to us in the company of Charles, we even asked him to make basic arrangements for our stay while we visited him in London, to then move on to Paris. But to our surprise we had no room booked in London to spend the night before we head for Paris by road. It was evening when we were told this but Charles was unruffled, he said no problems in his confident style, he said we could go to his Club and spend the few hours comfortably. We agreed. His Club turned out to be a big gambling Casino in London. He drove in with style and everyone seemed to know him as he seemed a regular customer and spent a lot of money in the Casino. We went in and by now his Chinese wife had joined us. The reason he dismissively gave us was that there were no room bookings available. Dad and Charles spent time at the various gambling tables of Blackjack, Roulette while his Chinese wife and I snoozed a bit, grabbed a bite had many cups of coffee and even went out in the cold for a stroll on the deserted streets around the Casino area to stretch our legs.

Around four am it was time to head to the White Cliffs of Dover from where we would take the ferry across the English Channel and land in France. It seems like just yesterday and I cannot forget the words that Charles spoke to me that night in the car and the impact that it had on me. Having not slept most of the night, dad and Charles’ Chinese wife were taking the opportunity to snooze and catch up on rest. At a particular point while driving the car, Charles looks at me from the rear mirror and announces. “Oorvazi, please don’t go to sleep on me, give me company to stay awake”. At that instant I felt obliged and conceded to his request like I would, to a long standing friend and kept awake keeping him company. It was not the fear that he would drive us to some weird place but actually the humanness of the request that struck me and on reflection my response to a serial killer was no different than that to a friend I would oblige. There was no great chatter that I can remember but a silent bonding that I had entered into with Charles and that was sufficient to keep us both awake and take us safely to Dover, not to forget the detours we had to take owing to Charles taking confident wrong turns and getting lost on the way which of course made the journey more tiring. Like a true Frenchman he would keep complaining about the British and all things English and said France was great- I guess the old historic rivalry between the two nations was somewhere still very much alive in Charles, the Frenchman. Thankfully with the breaking dawn we reached the ferry station in Dover in time for the first ferry out, had a wholesome breakfast of beans, eggs, and bacon while we waited for the ferry to depart and soon we were on French soil. To Charles’s credit, he did not get lost even once when in France and made the journey from the ferry terminal to Paris in excellent time. In Paris we did have a decent room booked for us, but there is a story to it, but that later.

We were shuttled to appointments set up by Charles in the up market real estate area in Paris to meet some French producers and his lawyers. Thanks to Charles the schedule was so hectic that I did not even get the chance to visit the Eiffel Tower (this was my first visit to Paris), but of course I was not there on vacation and that was least of my priorities. Charles was a good host to us and treated us well but I cannot forgive him for making me sick of Chinese food back then, as he repeatedly fed us lunch and dinner, day in and day out, only Chinese and no other cuisine, in the busy China Town area of Paris.

Now this is dramatic, one day in Paris we were almost arrested, no not for a crime of any great proportions but for speeding and not wearing seat belts. We were hauled up by the cops and asked to accompany them to the nearby police station. This was a tense moment as we were in the company of a killer and his criminal past could not be dismissed. And to add to the tension we have Charles’s Chinese wife showing open contempt of the French police in her tone and a loud voice, which made me panic a bit and I wanted to secure my safety from this rather trivial situation which seemed to me could go out of hand. However thankfully we were let off with a fine and a warning and allowed to go.

Charles is famously known for the charm and the power of his attraction that women feel towards him. So meeting his two competing wives vying for his time and attention was me being introduced to a very interesting and significant part of his life and his personality. They both probably played a very important role in keeping him afloat financially. His young vivacious Chinese wife was very street smart and very much her own person obviously as a result of her fight for survival as an immigrant in the hostile foreign environment of Paris. A very important part of her story was that she had borne Charles a lovely girl child which Charles seemed to be terribly fond of. But in Paris I was introduced to Chantal his older, senior wife, if I can refer to her as that. What struck me about Chantal was that she seemed so soft spoken and cultured, so warm and artistically bent that I was wondering what she was doing with a serial killer and had to remind myself about her involvement in his criminal past. Also what intrigued me even more was that after the release of Charles (a long 20 years or so, during which she had remarried and built a new life) she abandoned her current husband and daughter and returned back to Charles. What was it, true love? Can a man like Charles claim that level of affection; was it some unfathomable kind of one sided love, bordering on what is now termed as ‘Love Addiction’? Or just plain and simple sexual attraction? Next morning as if teasing and perplexing me further, I opened my eyes in our hotel room, in front of my bed stood Chantal and Charles just looking at each other like a young couple in love, no physicality just the silent language of the eyes. It just felt so beautiful. But was it a façade or real, the mystery lives on. I reminded myself to drop it -that he is a serial killer and I am in dangerous company. But for me the greatest charm of Charles was that he made me feel totally at ease, and I forgot the criminal in him, he felt like my neighbour next door.

Let me now tell you, I was sleeping with the killer. Now don’t jump to conclusions with your perverted mind (which I nudged you to explore) it was nothing like it sounds. There were three beds for each one of us, Dad, Charles and myself and no one got up till morning and all three of us had a sound sleep. But yes I did realize on after thought why we were booked in a room with three beds, so the reason given earlier by Charles was just a cover up, that only a three bed room was available, actually Charles wanted to be with us and it seems to avoid both his wives, it was all planned in advance so neatly – no one was the wiser. But all is well that ends well and I was safe and sound back in Mumbai working further on making the project a reality which for reasons which hold their own merit, the film is still under production and not yet made.

Jackie Shroff as Charles Sobhraj – publicity still for the film Bottomline by Oorvazi Irani

Jackie Shroff as Charles Sobhraj – publicity still for the film Bottomline by Oorvazi Irani

‘Fact is stranger than Fiction’ – real life is a rich goldmine for a filmmaker. A close observation of real life and people helps you probe reality and take your film to a deeper level. When you are dealing with real life characters what is necessary is to go beyond the façade of the public image of the person and see what clues real life have to offer, to go beyond the surface. The film “Bottomline” I was working on was never intended to glamorize a serial killer but instead explore the social phenomena of ‘Redemption’ the institutions of ‘Social & Legal Justice’ and ‘Society’s social & emotional response to crime & criminals’.

© Copyright and all Rights reserved Oorvazi Irani

©All pictures in this article are copyright protected by SBI Impresario Pvt. Ltd. and any use without prior consent and permission will amount to copyright violation.

First published onthe wesbite