HYDERABAD: M Cream, story of four friends explores what it means to be a young person living in India today. Through their journey from Delhi to Himachal Pradesh in search of M Cream - a form of marijuana, it raises several socio-political issues. The film has won 10 awards at various international and Indian film festivals. Director Agneya Singh and associate director Aban Raza tell us more.
The film is about four friends and the issues they face on their journey. What are these issues?
It is a philosophical and poetic film. We have explored many issues in a subtle way. The new generation is expected to inherit the world we don’t agree with.
An example would be the deforestation, the nexus between the politics and corporate, the nexus between religion and politics, the deadly mix of the two and how that is also been used to divide the people. There is a segment to understand why faith is important or not. They are having dialogues. They are questioning things that they think should be questioned. It also analyses the interplay between apathy and activism and conformity and rebellion, which are the two striking features of the young people, particularly in India today. Also, there’s inequality. There is a gap between the rich and the poor that is leading to frustration. There’s poverty all around you. We are not growing together.
Recently, the film Udta Punjab was released which was based on drug abuse. Do you fear that the people might compare your film with it?
In a way, it is a blessing in disguise for us because they have got these issues into the public limelight. The drugs they are dealing with, is of course bad for you. There are lot of medical evidences that heroin and cocaine are bad. In our case, we are taking a drug which is controversial. If alcohol and cigarettes are legal, it doesn’t make sense if a drug like marijuana, safer than both of these, is illegal.
Marijuana was used in Indian culture for many years. It was legal in India. Due to UN treaty, it has been put in the same category of other drugs. And now, when there is a medical evidence on the therapeutic benefits of marijuana and the US has taken steps to decriminalise it, it shows that it is also time for India to take a step on it. Lot of young people are using this drug. The film is not pro-drugs or anti-drugs. It just presents reality as is. I hope the film opens up a debate and discussion on marijuana legalisation and larger issues around the youth.
The road trip seems to be a common element in many films these days. You have also explored the genre in your film.
The road trip genre is very interesting and exciting. It is something which is instantly identified with young people. In south, lot of people travel to Kodaikanal and try the magic mushrooms as well (laughs). Lot of my friends in Bengaluru have gone to Kodaikanal and tried the magic mushrooms. They said I should make a film on it as well. Lot of young people seem to be doing these crazy road trips. In our case, it is bit more controversial with the drug angle. Also, as a filmmaker, it gives you space and lot of things to explore. Visually, you see lots of sites. It is always on move. You don’t have static shots always. It is a different setting.
Shooting that must have also been challenging...
Yes, of course. You are shooting in lots of places which are hard to access. People had to literally pull the equipments up and down the mountains and carry them on their shoulders because there was no path for cars, in Parvati Valley and Kulu Valley. It was cold too.
Do you follow Bollywood films?
Yes. I feel even in Bollywood, lot of interesting work is being done. The scripts are very challenging, edgy and radical. Such films are being made in mainstream because there is an audience today who wants to see some challenging work. The line between mainstream Bollywood and independent cinema are getting blur which I think is positive. In the next few years, we can push the limits a bit more and come up with a language of Indian cinema which is powerful.
M Cream releases on July 22.