Mumbai. Whether it’s Konkona Sensharma and Tilottoma Shome in one of the critically acclaimed short films ‘Nayantara’s Necklace,’ or Tanya Maniktala in the recently released ‘Ishq Mastana,’ as part of the Netflix anthology ‘Feels Like Ishq,’ filmmaker Jaydeep Sarkar is always trying to work with talents who suit the part and maximise the potential of every actress he collaborates with.
In a conversation, the director decodes his thoughts behind casting the right talent and how he is redefining the ‘job’ of a director.
“It’s interesting to use these two films as a point of comparison because the range of actors I’ve worked with on these two projects is vastly different. Koko and Tilottoma are my friends, so I shared the first draught of ‘Nayantara’s Nacklace’ with them from the beginning, and I began to think of them as the protagonists of the storey, ‘Alka’ and ‘Nayantara.’
“Since both of them are very skilled actors, it was their command over craft and conviction that took the story to the next level. I think that is what great actors do. As a director and writer, I just had to hand over my created characters to them to bring life on-screen. I had no job of ‘instructing’ an actor to extract the performance. Both of these ladies knew their craft so well,” Sarkar said.
However, he shared how it is different with an actress like Tanya who even though worked in ‘The Suitable Boy’, is fairly new in the business.
“I would say it for both my actors – Tanya and Skand of ‘Ishq Mastana’ – that there is a very unadulterated vulnerable energy in them. When you look into the eyes of Tanya, you see something very pure in them. When the casting happened, I wanted to utilise that side of her personality in the character.
“She is very sensitive and empathetic by nature. It was the same with Skand who played Kabir, a character who went through heartbreak in the story. When you look at Skand onscreen, you feel it. So, when we are working with the fairly new talent, as a director, I try and utilise the raw energy in the favour of the fictional character because, after 10 years in the business, these actors will not have these vulnerable raw energies. Life happens, innocence goes away and maturity comes in,” Sarkar said.
“Therefore, as director, it is important to hold on to the unadulterated energy of an actor, when required, and play with their craft and skill when the need be. For the rest, I allow the actor to interpret the character in their way,” he further explained.
The story of ‘Ishq Mastana’ revolves around heartbreak, falling in love and everything that happens between two college students when a protest is going on in the backdrop.
Asked about what intrigued him to make the film, Sarkar said, “In the 90s era, we were getting introduced to mobile phone, social media, hip-hop culture, corporate lifestyle and our generation was lost in that transition. Our ambition was to achieve a great corporate job and fit into the new world; politics and holding opinion against all things wrong was just not in our focus. This generation is different.
“Highly opinionated on topic that matters, be it climate change, right to education and overall social activism. Look at these kids — Greta Thunberg, Malala Yousafzai, Yara Shahidi and so many others. This generation wants to get things right, and my film ‘Ishq Mastana’ is an ode to that spirit and how two people fall in love under that situation.”
‘Feels Like Ishq’ streams on Netflix.