12 years in a small village Khijadiya, study in Baroda and now living in Paris, France. He has directed award winning film Samsara which earned him 120 crores. Later he made films such as Valley of Flowers, Buddha and a special documentary Echo of Eco. Apart from this, he has made many other documentaries, written stories and so on. Originally known as Nalin Pandya and now known as Pan Nalin has a story to tell to all those who has a dream!
Pan Nalin is probably the only Indian screenwriter to be twice invited to a prestigious Screenwriter’s lab Equinoxe along with top Hollywood screenwriters like; Ron Bass (Rainman..), David and Janet People (Unforgiven, Blade Runner…) Jim Hart (Dracula, Contact, Lara Croft), and Shane Black, (Lethal Weapon, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang…) among others. Legendary Diva of French Cinema Jeanne Moreau headed the writer’s lab.
Recently, he was in Rajkot for the launching of book ‘Hats off Zindagi’ of a very young and enthusiastic writer Prof. Jayesh Vachhani. We had a golden opportunity to spend some quality time with him.
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Excerpt of the Interview
Q.: Welcome to SpeakBindas. What tips you would like to share with upcoming film makers who have less experience but more passion, who are eager to start making short films? How do they finish the process without being frustrated?
First and most important thing that every film maker should keep in mind is to develop the clarity about the theme on which they want to make a short film. Due to internet, DVD etc. borders are being vanished. There are such film makers who simply upload their work on Youtube, that’s it. They don’t have any further goals in the field.
They should focus on the direction. And once decided, they should work hard for the same. These days, there are various forms of this field such as animation, 3D animations, live action, documentary, commercial and non-commercial films, television series etc. At the same time, they need to check whether that theme does match to their personality or not.
Q.: By looking at you, one comes to feel of spirituality that you’re carrying with. Your first film Samsara itself is a spiritual name. What’s the relationship between spirituality and Pan Nalin?
Spirituality is in our culture. I came to realize that let it be any kind of story, understanding of spirituality in it has great importance. For example, the latest highly successful commercial film Avatar has the spiritual angle in it. Likewise other films such as Star Wars and Matrix too have the spiritual concept.
But often, people do confuse spirituality with religion. I don’t believe in it at all. I believe that spirituality can exist equally in Christianity, Islam and Hinduism. Those who are highly religious, sometimes, there is no spirituality at all in them and to reverse to it, those who are not religious at all, are highly spiritual. This is actually hard to define. It’s indeed a matter of sadness that the gap between spirituality and religion is increasing day by day.
Q.: A lot has been talked about the success of your films. They have been internationally reviewed positively. One question I would like to ask on behalf of struggling film makers that was there any event of frustration during your film career? How should one overcome the same?
Frustration is a part of the package. And when I decided to become a film maker I knew about it. Many things can not be achieved without it. Severe frustration, severe struggle, severe disappointment comes around in the process. And even after working so hard, we are not sure about its result. It’s a hard question, but in general, I can say that it’s of very much importance to keep the balance of stress level. It depends on how much belief you’ve for what you are doing, how much confident you’re about the same. And when frustration is higher than the belief, people do leave the filed.
And the kind of projects that I do work on, there are more chances of receiving frustration. I think it’s easier to make a film taking couple of known stars having few songs.
When I left my home for my passion, my father asked me “If you’ve two paths ahead of you, one quite easier and the second very tough, which one will you chose?” To which I replied “the tougher one.” And he said “Now you’re ready to go ahead.” This is quite a simple logic. Every youngster should learn to handle frustration. This is common for every field. Particularly, when it comes about film line, upcomers have more attraction towards its glamour and they tend to forget the hard work it requires too and hence sometimes ends up with frustration. To create a dialogue, a script, to create the characters, find the matching actors, get work from them, shoot the film etc. it’s all about concentration. During the shooting of ‘Valley of Flowers’ sometimes, at a time there used to be total 600 people involved in. Hence, so much to manage making sure your concentration doesn’t get diverted. After the shooting comes editing, music and mixing. By the time, the film is ready to be released; film director has watched it more than 500 times. Director of blockbuster film Avatar, James Cameron has watched it for 3000 times.
Q.: You’ve made Samsara, Valley of flowers, Buddha, Echo of Eco and many other documentaries and short films. Now what?
I usually work on multiple stories at a time. My attraction is always towards good stories. Recently, I’ve written a Horror story for a producer based in Bangkok. I’m not directing it though. I am also working on a Martial Arts film ‘First Warrior’ which is an action packed film. I am also working on a tragic comedy film. Hence, many a projects are going on in my mind and in practical. Like you mentioned about Echo of Eco, I was one of the 30 film directors from the world who were invited to make a documentary, by COPENHAGEN Climate Conference 2009. By going through the list, I was literary amazed finding my name from INDIA among the world renowned directors from the world. I left everything else and started doing that documentary. I think, because I’m involved with multiple jobs at a time, I can manage my frustration.
I will also start working on a story by Saadat Hasan Manto which is based on the partition of India – Pakistan in 1947. The story is like, during the partition some chose to live in India, some in Pakistan, what about the mad people? It is a comedy cum tragic film.
Devang Vibhakar with Pan Nalin
Q.: Are you passionate about acting?
I have done some drama and theatres earlier. But when you become a film director, when you write a story, you need to do the acting backstage. When I do write a script, I get involved in moods of character and that is when I need to do acting myself. During the acting workshops of film, I participate in it and play the different characters to support the actors during the rehearsal process.
In Hollywood, no actor has time to do the research for acting. Hence, script has to be very specific, defining every scene. So being a film director, I’ve to do more acting than an actor!
Q.: My last question to you is that, you were born in a small village Khijadiya of Gujarat and now living in France. You’ve traveled the world over. So what collective message you would like to share with us?
Short message is that believe in what you do. Believe with total confidence no matter what you do, let it be music, film or even agriculture. And enjoy doing it. I feel that otherwise you shouldn’t be doing it.
Thanks to Dineshbhai Tilva for being so kind in arranging this interview with a nice dinner with Pan Nalin. More details about Pan Nalin can be found at: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0659023/