Aazam exclusive: Director Shravan Tiwari: Striving to be in a league of his own
Knock Knock- Its Hitchcock in the world of gangster crime… Aazam writer director Shravan Tiwari admires the master of suspense Sir Alfred Hitchcock and says, “ Aazam is a mystery wrapped in an edge of seat crime thriller”. In a candid interview with Vishal Verma, self-made writer filmmaker Shravan Tiwari shares his ambition, vision, what is unique about Aazam and much more
The trailer of Aazam has become a talking point, it doesn’t seem to be a quintessential gangster drama, what you have to say?
Shravan Tiwari: Aazam is a mystery packed in a crime drama thriller, mystery is the key element and its driven by treatment. Take Tarantino’s cult Pulp Fiction for example if you narrate it in a simple way, the charm and uniqueness will die instantly. I have tried to tell a story interestingly, keeping the audience guessing till the very end by telling it in a back and forth format.
Such writing is difficult, what was your approach while writing Aazam?
Shravan Tiwari: I directly start from the screenplay, yes, I do have a skeleton but I never decide whether this character will die, survive, I just go with the flow depending on the skeleton. I have made a film The Last Don (2014) and Aazam is much improvised, refined, slick, better, bigger version of the seed of thought of that film. The story is completely different – the hunter and the hunted format remains.
How different is Aazam from other gangster films
Shravan Tiwari: A Gangster drama has an establish format, Aazam has no such clichés like gangster having a family, a love affair etc. Aazam is a hardcore thriller revolving around the crime world in Mumbai. We have tried our best to keep the touch of those cult classics like Hollywood’s Godfather (1972) by Francis Ford Coppola and one of my favourite film in Bollywood Parinda (1989) by Vidhu Vinod Chopra.
What are your favourite films?
Shravan Tiwari: I admire international cinema more, as I said Parinda is my favorite Bollywood – Hindi film. I love Coen Brothers – Miller’s Crossing (1990), Joel Coen’s Fargo (1996). Road to Perdition (2002) by Sam Mendes but my all-time favourite is the Irani film Reconstruction (1949).
Tell us about your journey as a filmmaker
Shravan Tiwari: Am from a small Indian town Rajkot in Gujarat. Initially I wanted to be an actor but later when I finished my college, I started dreaming about making films. But due to pressure to earn and make a living, I did my MBA and took a job in Indian Express marketing division in Gujarat. Got married and had a kid, when my child was around 2 – 3 years of age, the rates of DSR cameras suddenly dropped to fifty thousand, sixty thousand and I bought one. I made the gujarati film The Advocate starring Bharat Thakkar which won awards. I used to shoot on weekends and rest of the week I use to do my job during those times.
Jimmy Shergill was the first choice or you had anyone else in mind as well
Shravan Tiwari: Am glad that Jimmy Shergill agreed, honestly, he fits the bill perfectly. Vivek Oberoi was in in our mind and we were in discussion as well but somehow things didn’t materialise as Vivek was not sure whether he should play the role of Jimmy or Abhimanyu.
Will the audience go to theatres to watch Aazam, taste preferences choices have changed post pandemic and OTT has gained proximity?
Shravan Tiwari: Yes, things have changed and people are accepting different genres. Kantara gets appreciated for its content and we are seeing the fall/crash of star system. Big mega budgets are not finding takers but good quality finds acceptance. We have tried to give a big screen experience in Aazam and it’s a thrilling ride, audience will enjoy and we are hoping that our content brings the audience to the theatres. The producer Mr. T.B. Patel is very confident and we are hoping that the positive word of mouth will help the Aazam.
Where have you shot Aazam
Shravan Tiwari: We have shot the outdoors in South Mumbai mostly, the interiors are in studio. By the grace of God, we shot during the Mumbai monsoon in June last year and on the day of shoot God was kind enough there was no rain.
What about other genres – comedy, romance, horror
Shravan Tiwari: I rarely watch comedy, the last comedy I enjoyed was Gulzar Sahab’s Angoor. Am happy making thrillers, mystery, crime. Some time back in my life I tried to explore other genre but faced difficulties, comedy romance is not in my grain.
And during that time, Sir Alfred Hitchcock came into my rescue. Hitchcock in his highly illustrated career spanning decades have made suspense mysteries and thrillers and horrors. He has stuck to his zone. Martin Scorsese also to a lot of extent. I may attempt a horror in fact one of my earlier film 706 is a horror.
What about OTT
I like Irish, British, Iranian, French series, crime drama series, The Last Of Us I enjoyed for its unique take on Zombie genre.
You are talking about mystery, suspense, thrills, so what you have to say about the master Akira Kurosava’s Roshomon which has inspired many mystery suspense like the recent Drishyam and continues to do
Shravan Tiwari: People like Akira Kurosava, Sayajit Ray are masters, guru, teacher, an angel so the respect will remain till my last breadth. In fact, in The Advocate DVD we have mentioned his name as well. My approach is a bit different, its not that dry like Akira Kurosava, I try to put some ‘ras’ some entertainment to expand the base of the audience.
What about Indian masters like Raj Khosla, Vijay Anand, Shreeram Raghavan in the mystery, thriller genre?
Shravan Tiwari: I like Shreeram Raghavan’s work, I loved Jhonny Gaddar and Andhadhun and would love to try the noir genre in future.
You have anything in mind for the noir genre
At present am just waiting and hoping Aazam gets a favourable response from the audience. Things are at stake, producer has put in money, and the film has to receive a good response that will ensure returns.
In future, if there is not much pressure of returns and collection then I will try something in the noir genre. Till then I have to make my space in the mystery, crime thriller genre. The ‘master of suspense’ Sir Alfred Hitchcock stuck to his genre and style.