There’s quite a few who know him, and almost everyone else should know him. He’s not just a filmmaker, but also a socially conscious writer, who’s always in the process of wanting to make a world a slightly better place to live, through his stories. I’ve watched him in awe as he moves from idea to idea, thought to thought, and milestone to milestone. Fun fact: he’s also a Dadasaheb Phalke Awardee.
Meet Faraz Arif Ansari, the man whose latest short film, Sisak, is making waves even before its release.
Ask him how Sisak came to be, and he goes into a zone of nostalgia. “I was in Nainital, sitting at a little café, having my breakfast and watching the news. That was the day that the judgement on Section 377 was reversed. I don’t remember feeling as helpless as I felt that day. I wanted to write a post on Facebook, I wanted to tweet, I wanted to do so much but I couldn’t do anything. Instead, I sat down and I wrote this film.” Ask him why the film had to be a silent film and Faraz says, “Because, what will you say? You can’t put emotions of this magnitude into words. How will you fight that mindset that says that love is illegal?”
And we’re both at a loss for words when he begins to describe the immense love he has received for the film, which was completed through a crowdfunding campaign he ran. “I went out and made the film because I just needed a camera and actors who happily agreed to be there. I crowdfunded it because post-production is very expensive. So, I went up to Wishberry and I set out to make three lakh as a goal, which they said should take me a minimum of a month. But in seven days, we made three lakh twenty thousand. By the time the campaign got over, I had five and a half lakhs.”
Interestingly, Faraz came up with the idea of a feature-length film with a homosexual protagonist titled Ravivar three years ago. He attaches a larger purpose to this socio-political satire: “I wrote it to be a centre film and not a left-of-centre film to reach out to a larger audience, so that another child doesn’t have to go through what I went through as a child, and I still go through on a daily basis, just because I’m different. We’re all different and we’re all the same. The day you see the similarity, the differences will fade away.”
But when he went out to get the film made, things did not pan out as Faraz had imagined. “I didn’t know that there was so much stigma attached to playing a homosexual in a mainstream film. I approached many A-list actors. And I waited to hear back from them for almost two years. I went to production houses who want to make different films and even those whose heads are homosexuals—they all loved it but didn’t want to make it. Many said, ‘why do you want to end your career by making this?’ Another producer said it’s a great subject but I should make it into a girl and a guy love story! ‘You’ll find a way. It’s a good subject, why waste it? Make that, and then we’ll produce it,’ he said. I felt like one was being asked to put an item song in a film about funerals.”
So, does that mean Ravivar will never get made? “I’ve left it to the belief that when we stop making bad films, we’ll start making good films. And every time I watch a bad film I get so depressed thinking, ‘I could have made Ravivar twice over with that much money.’ I just need 10 crore to make this film, which is the cost of two songs on a mega-budget film; a film that could touch lives which you never can with your 200-crore hits.
“I’m a very optimistic person, and I look forward to the day when Ranveer Singh will call me and say, ‘I want to play Ravi in Ravivar.’ And then, very gladly, I will sell my house and get the money to make the film, and we will take the flight to Delhi and shoot.”
Ask him about plans of the near future and the excitement is palpable. “I’m shooting Turning Wheels, which is a road trip across India with people with disabilities. I’m writing a feature film, which is a rom-com. And hopefully, if all goes well, I’ll be shooting my first feature film called Lottery, at the end of the year, because it’s a winter tale. Also, there’s the extension of Sisak—Sifar, a 90-minute silent feature film. I want to shoot it in the rains in Bombay. I want to bring in the nostalgia attached with the rain in Bombay in a silent film. So, the rain will do all the talking.”