No respect for writers in Bollywood: 'Aamis' director Bhaskar Hazarika

Mumbai: National-award winning director Bhaskar Hazarika says his brief stint in Bollywood left him with the memorable lesson that there is no respect for writers in the biggest film industry of the country.

Bhaskar, who made the award-winning horror anthology "Kothanodi" in 2015 and is now creating waves with "Aamis", also has writing credit for the forgettable Abbas-Mustan thriller "Players".

This, the director explained, was at a time when he was trying hard to make his work count in Bollywood, which remained largely unmoved by original, daring ideas.

"In Bollywood, there's no respect for writers. I'm not saying this out of angst, this is a fact. They don't value writing. People here treat writing as a hobby," Bhaskar told PTI.

The director said interesting content will happen only if one empowers the writers.

"Otherwise you'll get the same rehashed ones in different formats. That's started hurting me."

Bhaskar initially wanted to become a novelist but turned to cinema with the realisation that nobody read books.

"Also because it's supposed to be more glamorous and I was young. 'Players' happened and I had to unlearn a lot of things I had learnt about screenwriting. The focus in Bollywood is so much on stars, that everything else feels insignificant.

"The camera work, direction. Where 'Bhai' stands, shot will be taken there. That's not what I wanted to do because I had studied cinema," he said.

Bhaskar quit the Hindi film industry and headed to Assam, crowdfunding his feature directorial "Kothanodi".

"Aamis", which was screened at the ongoing Jio MAMI 21st Mumbai Film Festival with Star, chronicles the story of a lonely, married woman who bonds with a younger man over their shared love of unusual food.

As their excursions become more adventurous, their relationship begins to take a dark turn.

The director said he got the idea for the film while watching two people eat KFC chicken.

"Ridiculous right? But that's how it came through," he said.

He observed how the two seemed connected, even though they weren't looking at each other and were interacting with the food.

From there, Bhaskar built on larger themes of the film, like taboo, the nature of sin and punishment.

The director said he finds the concept of taboo exciting because "almost all of us have at least entertained that thought, if not acted upon it."

"We are drawn towards taboo because we want to cross boundaries. The mental lines which society draws on your head -- 'you can do this, you can't do that' -- in the end you're an individual. Those impulses are in everyone. Everybody does it.

"It can be as simple as a Gujarati guy who eats an omelet to rebel or a Muslim guy who says he's turning vegetarian much to the discomfort of his parents. You want to take small chances to rebel against the society, sometimes they can become destructive."

While the film draws heavily from its Guwahati setting, Bhaskar believes it can be set anywhere.

"The story can be set at any large urban centre where there's anonymity. You can go to restaurants and no one can find out. It can be set anywhere where they eat meat. May be not in Ahmedabad," he joked.

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