Filmmaker Hardik Mehta’s Kaamyaab had its European Premiere as Round Figure with a screening at the Festival du Film d’Asie du Sud (FFAST) on February 14, 2019.
Mehta, an alumnus of AJK MCRC, Jamia Millia Islamia, shot his first short Chal Meri Luna way back in 2006 and made it into a film in 2011. He landed in Mumbai in 2009 and started working as an assistant director.
“I was the script supervisor on Road, Movie, Lootera, and Queen. Vikramaditya Motwane encouraged me to make a short film that producers can watch and give me a feature film,” he recounts.
His documentary Amdavad Ma Famous (co-produced by his wife Akanksha Tewari) went on to win the National Award in 2016. “This film gave a direction to my career and it was screened at more than 75 film festivals and won 15 awards,” he adds.
During this time, he had started writing his film. “I had written Kaamyaab in 2014-15. When Manish Mundra saw The Affair, he was delighted to present it and also was very keen on doing Kaamyaab. He came as a blessing and within three months of him saying yes, the film went on floors.”
He was the co-writer of Motwane’s Trapped which was highly appreciated, but he enjoys directing more than writing.
“I think I am a slow writer but a fast director. I don’t know how both contrasting energies exist within me. Maybe it’s the kind of films that we make. This is something that is very important for filmmakers to learn. Write and edit in your luxury, but don’t waste time on the shoot. I thoroughly enjoy directing, but I get to do that very less as most of my time goes in conceptualising, writing and editing the films since I do all of these steps for my films,” he quips.
Kaamyaab’s cinematic journey is a byproduct of Mehta’s love for trivia and movies. “If you combine both of them, it’s a heady cocktail that Indians loved to get high on. As a storyteller, I have always loved to quote things to people, which they had heard but didn’t know exactly.” He goes on to add how the iconic dialogue ‘Hum jahan khade hote hai...’ was not uttered first by Amitabh Bachchan in Kaalia. It was delivered by actor Bob Christo who does it first, and then Bachchan follows it with a retort, ‘Hum bhi jahaan khade hote hai, line waheen se shuru hoti hai’.
He rues how the advent of ‘new age cinema’ has its drawbacks. “The character actor on the film posters was no more to be seen. Everything about Hindi cinema became about a HERO! And that made me curious? I thought its important for Kaamyaab to get made,” he adds.
The overbearing thought was to make the audience feel as if they are watching an actual character actor’s journey but also ‘a hero’. With Sanjay Mishra, he got the double package – the experience of the life of a character actor that he has lived and the charm of a protagonist who can hold the film.
On casting takeaways, he says, “Sanjay sir has been a part of a huge number of good and bad films, so he brought so much of texture, humor and pathos to the film. Deepak Dobriyal gave some of the funniest lines to us while improvising. The surprise packages are Sarika Singh and Isha Talwar, who did a fabulous job.”
Kaamyaab is his ode to honest love for cinema and people. “One thought that kept me charged was an old man’s obsession towards a particular number. Sanjay sir’s character wants to finish 500 films in style,” he says.
The film had its world premiere at the Busan International Film Festival last year. Interestingly, all three short films were also screened in Paris in different festivals, and his first feature had its outing in the city as well.