Our best stories are the ones that provoke: Shekhar Kapur

Encouraging the audience to imagine their own version of the story unfolding on screen is the best cinematic experience, said director Shekhar Kapur on Monday.

Speaking at a session here as part of Media and Entertainment Fortnight at India Pavilion during the Expo 2020 Dubai, the filmmaker said the Indian film industry will be “completely shattered and unsuccessful if we try to tell the stories.”

“We’re arrogant enough to call ourselves storytellers. We’re not storytellers. We provoke. We never tell stories. Our best stories are the ones that provoke everybody in the room or anybody to imagine their own story and that’s the best story,” Kapur said.

“Past is not going to be the future,” the 76-year-old filmmaker said, adding every new culture of dissemination changes content.

Highlighting the importance of digital platforms, the filmmaker said, “If you walk around in India today, who’s the biggest star? It’s not Salman Khan, it’s Manoj Bajpayee (The Family Man). Because everybody is shifting to (OTT).”

Shekhar Kapur, known for acclaimed films like Masoom, Bandit Queen, Mr India, and Cate Blanchett-starrer Elizabeth series, gave the example of the epic Mahabharat, which he said “had a million versions”.

“That’s because everyone else was telling their own story. Then suddenly it had to be published. When you did that, it (the story) became one. Now with the internet, it’s freely available.”

Describing India as “a nation in flux”, Kapur said our civilisation has been in conflict all the time.

“Just look at the Mahabharata, how in conflict we are. Our nation is still forming. So, there constantly will be different points of view. We are tribal people, we go to the tribe we feel comfortable with. And then we’ll rush to a tribe we feel safer with,” he added.

During the session, Shekhar Kapur also said the financial argument of making a film is sometimes completely at odds with the creative argument.

“Somebody comes to me and says, ‘We’ll make Mr India 2. We will give you Rs 250 cr. You make it.’ I ask why? They say, ‘In three weeks, we’ll recover all the money.’”

Kapur further said his long-in-the-works film Paani has been retitled as Flow.

“What we are doing in this film is that you create a world and you allow who’s watching it to take your world and infer their own world from that,” he added.

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