Five classic tips on filmmaking from the illustrious Sudhir Mishra

How do filmmakers approach their task? What goes on in their head? What makes them tick? How do they select their subjects?
As movie buffs, these are questions that often wander through our mind, especially when we come across a brilliant film. Who better than the eminent filmmaker Sudhir Mishra to answer these questions? The celebrated director of critically acclaimed movies including Yeh Woh Manzil To Nahin (1987), Is Raat Ki Subah Nahin (1996), Chameli (2004) and Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi (2005), Sudhir has a revered authority on film-making. In a chat with actor Saurabh Shukla on Tata Sky Acting Adda, he throws light on the subtle nuances of filmmaking. It is a microscopic view of the mind behind the artist. We bring you some nuggets of wisdom that he shared on the show.

1. Don’t handle actors; work with them  

According to Sudhir, the best method to deal with actors is to have no method. In other words, it is best to allow the actors to follow their own methods. Since each actor is different and unique, you will be best served by allowing their uniqueness to flower. That way, it will enable the actor to add his personal flavour to the character.

Sudhir Mishra
Image Courtesy:
2. Look out for stories around you

As a film-maker, you never know when a story might motivate you to make a film. To capture the magnitude and essence of the story, you need to be able to grasp it fully. This can only be possible if you are exploring the myriad of stories that surround you. Even if you don’t have a story with you at present, explore life around you in search of it.  

Sudhir Mishra Films
Image Courtesy:
3. Make a film if the story permeates your soul

Some stories will flutter around you for a brief time and then pass away. But there will be stories that will sink deep into your psyche. These are stories that will refuse to leave you. These are the stories that you should convert into a film. These are the stories that are destined for you to make a movie on. When you make movies about such stories, you will witness the whole universe conspiring in your favour. 

Sudhir Mishra Movies
Image Courtesy:
Make movies that fit your value system

It is essential to make a movie that matches your sensibilities. Only if the film blends with your nature and beliefs will you be able to do justice to it. Sudhir cites the example of Calcutta Mail (2003) while explaining his point. He made Calcutta Mail just because he hadn’t directed a film for a long time and was under pressure to do so. Eventually, only the films that you believe in will turn out to be good ones. 

Sudhir Mishra Movies
Image Courtesy:
Don’t ape film-makers blindly

When making films, it’s important to focus on your own thoughts. Blindly imitating famous directors will not hold you in good stead. Make movies the way you want to make them rather than how others may have made them. You can only do justice to the film if it reflects your thoughts and experiences. 

Director Sudhir Mishra
Image Courtesy: