Indian cinema has played a major role in the global entertainment industry for over fifty years. In many ways, he pioneered a distinctly Indian style and captured the imagination of people around the world. However, over the past decade, Indian cinema has taken an interesting turn; many quirky films began to emerge from all parts of the country, and attention shifted, especially as films like Oscar-nominated Lagaan, Slumdog Millionaire, Udaan and Masaan made headlines as movies that made a lot of noise on the awards circuit.
Writing with Fire, an Indian documentary, has just been nominated for an Oscar. This is clear proof that the world is now looking at the Indian market in a new and lucrative light.
Mihir Fadnavis is an aspiring director who has seen this change and believes in the upheaval of Indian cinema. Beginning his career as an entertainment journalist in 2010, Fadnavis has witnessed the shift in focus of the industry from analog to digital, as well as the waves of change brought by the new generation of renegade storytellers such as Anurag Kashyap, and was inspired by their constant striving for cinematic excellence and the need to stand out in a crowd.
During his early days as a journalist, he met and interviewed many up-and-coming filmmakers and producers, and he was struck by their disparate styles and approaches to filmmaking. He saw that there was a significant difference between mainstream and independent art spaces, and that it is possible to create a quality independent film while still attracting mainstream audiences, thus bridging the gap between the two cinematic approaches. For him, it was obvious that there was a real opportunity to create unique films while connecting with a wide range of audiences. He then decides to go out and produce and direct films, while ensuring that his stories are told in a professional manner.
“It was really clear to me,” Fadnavis says, “either make movies worth watching or not make any at all.” Making a movie is a tough process, and consumers are now savvy enough to know what’s worth their time and money. Besides local legends, he credits his love of foreign cinema with influencing his approach to cinema. “Having grown up seeing the works of masters like Park Chan Wook, it was necessary to at least try to aspire to this level of cinema, and with legends like Anurag Kashyap, Vikramaditya Motwane, Dibakar Bannerjee and Vishal Bharadwaj making films of such quality. in our time, it would be an injustice for the industry to strive to make films of this caliber.
Fadnavis began his career as a filmmaker with the Netflix show “Ghoul,” starring Radhika Apte; it was one of the first Netflix Originals produced after the phenomenal success of Sacred Games. Fadnavis served as associate producer on the program, which received critical acclaim upon its first premiere.
Shortly after, Fadnavis co-wrote and directed “Chewing Gum”, a horror film which had its world premiere at the famous BiFan festival in South Korea and a successful world festival at Fantasia in Toronto, as well as numerous other festivals in Europe and the United States. “Chewing Gum”, produced by veteran Vikramaditya Motwane, is a genre horror picture – a form rarely developed in India – and it was a tremendous achievement for the film to have an international stage.
Having Vikramaditya Motwane as my mentor has been a great blessing to me, and after spending my formative film years watching his work, having him produce my first film as a filmmaker has been a wonderful experience. “Although Chewing Gum is a horror picture, it was necessary to base the film on truth, but more importantly, it had to be entertaining,” says Fadnavis.
Fadnavis also highlights how the emergence of OTTs has brought people closer to filmmakers. “These days, people watching great content at home have started to understand not only what good content is, but they’ve also started to understand the thought process behind filmmakers,” he continues, “it’s a tremendous development because for a filmmaker, the discourse and the being to be able to connect with the audience, both emotionally and artistically, is hugely satisfying, after all that’s what we make films for, being able to connect with people and engage in healthy ways with them.
Mihir Fadnavis, who believes that versatility is essential to cinematic success, is currently working on a number of projects in a variety of genres. Mihir’s most recent production, a documentary titled “Lords Of Lockdown”, has also gone overseas and will premiere at the Indian Film Festival in New York on May 7, 2022.