Art & Entertainment

Varun Grover: Direction Allows Me To Understand The Process Of Cinema In Its Entirety

Writer, poet and stand-up artist Varun Grover, whose debut film as a filmmaker, 'All India Rank', which was the opening film at the recently concluded Dharamshala International Film Festival (DIFF), says he always wanted to be in the director's chair as that would mean more involvement in the entire process.

Lyricist and screenwriter Varun Grover
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Writer, poet and stand-up artist Varun Grover, whose debut film as a filmmaker, 'All India Rank', which was the opening film at the recently concluded Dharamshala International Film Festival (DIFF), says he always wanted to be in the director's chair as that would mean more involvement in the entire process.

"Not to mention, this role also helps me to understand the process of cinema in its entirety, something which is very enriching," says the National award-winning lyricist ( Moh Moh Ke Dhaage from the film 'Dum Laga Ke Haisha').

Stressing that the film, which revolves around 17-year-old Vivek, sent away from home to a coaching institute in Lucknow to prepare for the highly competitive IIT, is a very personal story, the writer-director of the movie, who is a graduate in Civil Engineering from IIT Varanasi, says he had been wanting to tell this story for a long time. 

"Ever since I was a young adult, I have wondered why we have to decide on our future so early in life. The immense pressure from parents, the society... I decided to contextualise it in the late 90's when liberalisation was the buzz word and there was an IIT boom, besides layering it with other themes. While there have been other series about that life, but I feel that they left out the aspect of how that dream started in India," he tells IANS.

Grover adds that for him it has always been important to tell personal stories and concerns that touch him deeply. 

Believing that one should be able to see a part of himself/herself in what he creates, he adds, "This film comes from a space that I have seen and understand."

It was in fact during his IIT years that he immersed himself in reading voraciously and started a theatre group there, for which he wrote several original scripts. 

"Once you get admission in an institute like IIT, the pressure from all quarters decreases. And that is the time I could do what I really wanted to -- I consolidated the idea that I wanted to be a writer."

For someone involved in multiple art forms, each gives a different kind of satisfaction. He says while stand-up performances allow him to be more upfront, writing scripts and lyrics may involve methaphorical comment on present-day politics and social trends.

The film, an honest and tender deep dive, not just in the mind of the protagonist and his family, but also an inquiry about the circumstaces around them, did have problems finding financial backers.

"So, the script was ready long before we commenced shooting. Most of the producers wanted changes and incorporation of elements that would make it commercially viable. However, I was not ready to do that. And then, Jaideep Sahni put me in touch with Matchbox, who produced the film."

In these times, when self-censorship reigns supreme, there is no stopping Varun Grover, especially when it comes to his stand-up acts. He stresses he cannot detach the political thought and awareness that is a part of his being. 

"There is always some personal political thought in the art I create. I would like to believe that when we create something with an honest intention, it comes true in every sense of the word," he concludes.

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