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“The Story Starts Talking to You”: Director Ritesh Batra | Photograph

Sanya Malhotra and Nawazuddin Siddiqui in Photograph

Whenever directors watch their own films, they always do so with the knowledge that there are moments that occurred during their production — whether that’s in the financing and development or shooting or post — that required incredible ingenuity, skill, planning or just plain luck, but whose difficulty is invisible to most spectators. These are the moments directors are often the most proud of, and that pride comes with the knowledge that no one on the outside could ever properly appreciate what went into them.

So, we ask: “What hidden part of your film are you most privately proud of and why?”

Films, as they say, are written and rewritten many times. For me, the part I am most proud of, when it happens, is when the story starts talking to you, telling you what it wants to be. When a movie is going to work, this is what happens: it tells you what it wants to be, as much as you decide what it should be. It becomes a conversation with your work. It’s as close to a religious experience as I have ever had (as someone who is an atheist on good days). This conversation starts only after a lot of time and work has been put in, you have to earn it. It’s a weird, indescribable force that makes its presence felt. I am most conscious of it in the edit, when it’s more lonely and there is less noise around. In my short career, this has happened to me maybe two or three times; it’s when I know I am on the right track, and now the work has come alive and the conversation can begin. I wouldn’t say it makes me only proud when it happens—it also humbles me, because I know that it’s an elusive force, and one has to earn it all over again each time.

Sundance 2019 Responses

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