The lone Goan Konkani film ‘Juze’ selected at the recently concluded 48th International Film Festival of Goa (IFFI) in the Indian Panorama section has put the young director Miransha Naik in the limelight. NT BUZZ caught up with Miransha to get to know more about his filmmaking and his next film ‘The Holy Fire’
Danuska Da Gama I NT BUZZ
Juze might be a common name in Goa, but here Juze is the film directed by Miransha Naik from Benaulim. After travelling various film festivals around the world, with its premier at the Hong Kong Film Festival, this was one movie many Goan film buffs would not want to miss. Set in 1990’s the film depicts exploitation by landlords, with several issues and undertones, and has taken Goan filmmaking to another level. A thought provoking film that has elements of socio-politics, social injustice seen through the eyes of a teenager, Juze raises uncomfortable questions that don’t have easy answers. This compact 1 hour 34 minutes film, that grips you until the last frame, is a result of over 3 years’ hard work after Miransha pitched the story at NFDC Script Lab.
Excerpts from an interview
- While many have said that your film is entertaining and has a message, you prefer to say that it’s engaging. Why?
If you are referring to the humour, it just comes naturally through the scenes, it’s not added to purposefully make the audience laugh. In no way I wanted my film to be preachy or give out a message or for that matter create awareness. For me, first as a writer I put in effort to make the story engaging and to keep the audience hooked through both writing and direction.
- Your film is very bold, with sexually explicit content and a narrative which many don’t want to talk about, but is also very real. How easy was it to direct these scenes with Goan actors?
The sex scenes were the most difficult to direct and we edited quite a bit. While we managed the rest of the shooting easily, not everyone was comfortable with these scenes, despite having closed sets. I tried and captured everything but compromised a lot. There was so much pressure while directing and time is the most important factor in filmmaking. I would take several retakes for small things that weren’t up to my expectations. The lead youngster couple was very uncomfortable during the kissing scenes. They were being artificial and trying to trick me; that was the part I was not happy with, it was no less than those shots of the milk boiling, or flowers scene we’ve seen in so many films.
- How confident were you of Goan audience accepting your film?
We were confident that the people will enjoy the movie. There were discussions and people have been saying that Juze could have been made without those bold sex scenes. In reply I would say, “If that was the case, I could have avoided making the film itself?” The scenes were a part of the narrative and an important part of the movie. There is nothing filthy or perverse. The irony is I received hard criticism from foreigners about it who were unhappy with the way the bold scenes were shot. The problem is that most filmmakers from conservative countries make it appear like those scenes are shot to be censored, and those from the West say that if we can’t show those scenes properly, the best is to avoid writing it in the first place.
- You film Juze whilst highlighting the migrant issue in Goa and tyranny of the landlord system has also captured various undertones like socio-politics, social injustice, etc. Was this because you were witness to something that happened and wanted to create awareness?
This does come from a lot of personal observations, things that happened around me. I couldn’t put all those experiences in it, but have used a mix of all interesting elements to create this movie.
For this film you were mentored by a French film editor, and I get to know that it was at their behest that you edited over an hour of content from the film for the final cut.
We would always praise the senior editor Jacques Comets who came on board for Juze. Being so close to the story and knowing all the work we put in, Siddhesh Naik (editor) and I didn’t have the objectivity when it came to editing. We didn’t want to cut scenes out – it would get really difficult, though I am one of those directors who doesn’t mind if something is edited out. It was when Jacques came that we got to know what was working for us and what wasn’t. There were some beautiful shots removed to make sense in the flow of the movie and that created the effect it needed. Editing is thus very crucial.
- Your strength has been scriptwriting. Do you think you have the added advantage as the director of your own story knowing how the story should play out?
It’s not always the case. There are people who are writers and those stories which go on to become films, have brilliant directors too. The directors get the vision of how a script should be treated. I don’t think there are advantages or disadvantages. I think once the writing is done, directing abilities come into play.
- Do you have plans of commercially releasing the film in Goa?
Yes! But many of those sexually explicit scenes will be cut out. I want the U/A certificate as I want to get a large audience to watch the film, and I want youngsters and adults to watch it. If I get an A certificate, forget about youngsters, but a lot of adults too won’t watch the film. I don’t plan to release it in India as you need to have lots of money and it’s tough to get a release in India. So I just want to release the film in Goa. As a director it hurt that I have to compromise so much, but I also have to think like a producer. On the other hand, I am happy that the film has travelled to festivals and has been appreciated. The best thing was that many Goans watched the film at IFFI.
- What can we expect in your next film ‘The Holy Fire’?
It will be similar to Juze, yet it is very different. Again, I don’t see music anywhere to be included in The Holy Fire. I am one of those filmmakers who don’t like the use of music in my films, I like music otherwise. Though I enjoy other films with music in it, I feel it’s a distraction in my films where the audience has to be hooked to the story; music doesn’t matter then.
- Having contributed to the Goan film industry, would you make many more Konkani films by availing of the Goa government’s Film Finance Scheme?
It’s impossible to make a Konkani film and not have a market for it. And that’s why, this time for The Holy Fire I am open to making it in another language. It is also because I don’t have the right actors, but when I look around in the Hindi film industry, I can see the faces I want and also know their work. Performances mean a lot to me and I can’t compromise on that. So I am not sure if I will ever avail of that scheme, but production of a movie costs a lot, and you need private entities to come forward to support the film industry in Goa.