“If there is one thing I am confident of it is how to tell a story...Somehow no one really asked me what prior experience I had. I think everyone assumed I was an ad-filmmaker or some such." - Homi Adajania. In an exclusive interview with DARPAN, the quirky filmmaker opens up about his childhood, his films, and life in general.
He had no prior experience in filmmaking, but a natural gift for storytelling helped Homi Adajania bag the opportunity to helm and direct his first film Being Cyrus, which released in 2006. Since then, there's been no looking back for this talented director, who has amassed immense box office success with films like Cocktail and last year's super-hit Finding Fanny. In an exclusive interview with DARPAN, the quirky filmmaker opens up about his childhood, his films, and life in general.
"If there is one thing I am confident of it is how to tell a story. And I had a pretty impressive narration going for Being Cyrus”, recalls Adajania. "Somehow no one really asked me what prior experience I had. I think everyone assumed I was an ad-filmmaker or some such. But for me it wasn't rocket science. I figured that there was a very detailed vision of the narrative in my head and I rounded up a bunch of technicians to translate what was in my head on to celluloid."
Despite the confidence in his abilities, Adajania, who grew up in Mumbai, India, admits that like any other first-time filmmaker, he made a number of mistakes and as a result learnt a great deal while on the sets of his films.
"Being Cyrus was like going to film school for me. There are so many things that I look back at and cringe. A big [lesson] was not to try and do everything and to appreciate and exploit every crew member's talent towards enhancing the film. Today, I know exactly what I want but I am very open to suggestions from everyone involved in the process. I have a democratic working style that embraces and celebrates the collaborative process," explains Adajania, whose childhood memories include listening to war stories about the Indo-Pak war, in which his father, who was also "a great story-teller," fought.
In his early years, "I was like any other kid I guess, building worlds in my head. According to my mother, I am the reason for every grey hair that she has. As a small child I was a bit of a nut,” Adajania reminisces. "I remember lighting bonfires in my cupboard or when my mother would call me home, I would climb up the pipes of her sixth floor apartment and she'd be really pissed off. I look back at some of the bizarre things that I did and wonder what on earth possessed me to do them…"
Bold and free-spirited right from his childhood, Adajania’s love for adventure and excitement has stayed with him and he recounts a period in his life when he was not employed in a steady job. Between his various jobs as a scuba driving instructor to managing a gas pump, Adajania also managed to travel extensively to different parts of the world.
It comes as no surprise that Adajania credits these various experiences as inspiration behind his storytelling.
"When people ask you ‘what are you doing?’ they don’t expect a reply that has to do with anything that doesn’t earn you money. It’s really strange, but when you say I was reading, travelling, doing any odd-job to get to the next destination, it doesn’t seem to cut it. Honestly, I think life is too fleeting and priceless for a full-time job," says the director, who loves adventure sports and has undoubtedly lived
life on his own unique and individualistic terms.
This brand of individuality coupled with an ample dose of humour and reality can also be found in all of his films, including the recently released Arjun Kapoor-Deepika Padukone starrer, Finding Fanny.
Finding Fanny has been appreciated by critics and audiences alike and Adajania, who is known for his laidback nature in the business, shares that while he doesn't specifically write scripts and characters for specific actors, he did write Finding Fanny's postman character with the actor Naseeruddhin Shah in mind.
His next project will be the Hindi adaption of The Fault in Our Stars. "It’s a story that I really feel needs to be told in India. For me it’s poignant, at a time when we are consumed by technology and are manically running this make-believe race we think is Life. We are such profound idiots to actually believe we have unlimited time here!"
Reflecting on Adajania’s values, beliefs and life experiences, it's clearly evident that it is a story that resonates deeply with him. "I live by the belief that success is measured by one’s sense of happiness and nothing else, and that happiness is a state of mind and nothing else.”