Filmmaking was inevitable for me: 'Searching' director Aneesh Chaganty

Technology plays a key role in 'Searching', which stars 'Star Trek' actor John Cho and 'Will & Grace' star Debra Messing.

Published: 22nd August 2018 06:26 PM  |   Last Updated: 22nd August 2018 06:26 PM   |  A+A-

Aneesh Chaganty

Indian-American filmmaker Aneesh Chaganty (Photo | Aneesh Chaganty Instagram)


NEW DELHI: Indian-American filmmaker Aneesh Chaganty, whose debut "Searching" created quite a buzz at Sundance Film Festival, says it was challenging yet interesting to base the thriller in the cyber space.

Technology plays a key role in the mystery, starring "Star Trek" actor John Cho and "Will & Grace" star Debra Messing. Cho plays a man coming to terms with his wife's death when he is faced with another adversity. His daughter has disappeared and all he has to fall back on is her social media life.

"I did not want it to be gimmicky. It is easy for the story to become boring as everything is unfolding on the computer screens but we were always changing things. We had placed self-imposed visual constraints. There were very tight parameters while shooting it," Chaganty, who worked in Google before turning to cinema, told PTI in an interview.

The film, which won the 2018 Alfred P Sloan Feature Film Prize at Sundance, is all set to be released in India by Sony Pictures on August 31.

It is also one of those rare Hollywood films with an Asian actor in the lead. Both Cho and Messing have had an illustrious career, and Chaganty said being a newcomer on the sets was initially nerve wrecking.

"I was 25 years old when we began the film. It was difficult to work with them initially because good actors really know how to process the information. A big challenge for me was to get over the self-consciousness of it.

"There was this constant worry 'Am I doing something wrong or messing up everything?' For a long time, it was the much bigger worry than what I was doing as a director. I got over it eventually." 

The director worked at the Google Creative Lab in New York City but left the job as he knew movies were his true calling.

"I have grown up on a steady diet of films - both Hollywood and Hindi movies. My mom really loves movies and growing up, I realised I wanted to be a filmmaker. I have been making short films since I was a little kid. It was inevitable for me to become a filmmaker." 

Changanty, who was recently in India for the screening of the film at MAMI, hopes to work with Bollywood stars in future.

When asked why he chose to go with a Korean family in his debut thriller, the director said he could not imagine an Indian-American family at its centre.

"I thought a lot about whether there should be an Indian-American family in the film but at the end of the day, I did not recognise any of the Indian-American families that I grew around, fitting the story. The objective, however, was always to have an Asian-American family at the heart of it because it is quite rare for a Hollywood film to cast a family that does not look the same." 

Chaganty has already finished writing another thriller, backed by Lionsgate.

"We finished writing our next project and we sold it to Lionsgate. There is no technology element. It is about a mother and daughter and a much darker thriller. It explores the dark side of love," he said.

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