Article, Review and Q&A Session of ‘Baavra Mann’, a Documentary on the life of Director-Scriptwriter Sudhir Mishra, Directed by Jaideep Varma (Part 2 of 3)

The film is produced by Saturday films, which is the director’s own Production Company and the sole financer of this film (as revealed during the Q & A session). Shot on a shoestring budget of 5 – 6 lakhs, Baawra Mann explores different aspects of director-scriptwriter Sudhir Mishra’s life and works through interviews with cast and crew of his earlier films, friends, acquaintances, contemporaries and Indian Ocean (considering Jaideep Varma’s previous documentary Leaving Home was about this band).

GRADE: CC / 40%

Summary: Baavra Mann is a languorous overload of interviews shot in patterned middle-shots with little music, little dramatic impact and a lot of talk.  Together these voices drown out the Jaideep Varma’s own voice as the documentary’s director.

Baavra Mann is a languorous ovBaavra Mannerload of interviews with Sudhir Mishra, actors, writers, producers and composers who have worked with him, theatre personalities, professors, contemporaries, friends and acquaintances, parents, uncles and even ex-wife, shot in patterned middle-shots with little music, little dramatic impact and a lot of talk. Together these voices drown out the director Jaideep Varma’s own voice, and we wait restlessly in our seats wanting to know the story Varma is trying to convey. Alas, he remains silent, and his story indefinite.

To make a documentary on the life and works of Sudhir Mishra is a challenging task. Firstly, Sudhir is a wise man, a very wise man. He has answers for most of the questions, especially the simple ones. There isn’t much self-doubt or insecurity in this man, and even if there is, he hides it behind a convincing façade. Vulnerable moments seldom show on his countenance. He has a no-nonsense attitude, a downer for cameras. Secondly, it’s odd to release or rather screen (as corrected by Jaideep Varma during the Q&A session) film on Sudhir Mishra in 2013. Why? Because his previous film Inkaar underperformed at the box office and wasn’t a critical darling either. Neither was Sudhir Mishra involved in any major kind of controversy unlike his Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi star Shiney Ahuja. His personal life isn’t under microscopic scrutiny of film reporters either. Why hear about a guy who isn’t heard or talked about like say Karan Johar or Rituparno Ghosh? Thirdly, even if his life is documented, is it really worth at the present moment to screen it at film festivals, release special DVDs etc? Isn’t this kind of material, based on a guy whose fans are only those who’ve watched his movies, better suited as a DVD bonus feature? I have the answer to the third question, a simple one that too – YES.

There is no director’s stamp in this documentary, which is especially needed if the subject is Sudhir Mishra because we don’t hold a distinct opinion about him. Does Jaideep Verma wants us to look at this man and his films differently? Does he want us to empathize with his attitude on cinema? Or does he want us to simply lament lost times in general, his lost films in particular? We find ourselves lost here because none of the questions posed to Mishra generate anything more than superficial interest. His failed marriage with Sushmita Mukherjee, for instance, begins with Sushmita talking about his work, then their marriage, then the reason for its failure (where both take the blame themselves for a change instead of pointing accusatory fingers). The last segment is edited using poorly cut split screen effect; first Sushmita speaks on the left side, then Sudhir on the right, then Sushmita, then Sudhir. Did he pour his personal failures as recurring motives in his films? I’m not sure again, as there are so many voices to speak that we fail to recognize and remember whose words matter.

We have interviews with people who only speak a line or two then disappear. We don’t really know what Mishra saw in his muse

English: Chitrangada Singh at the Audio releas...

 Chitrangada Singh (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Chitrangada Singh, who has starred as the lead in Hazaaron Khwahishein Aisi, Yeh Saali Zindagi and Inkaar; I would’ve wanted to hear that. And what did Sudhir think about Shiney Ahuja’s arrest? Did he have conflicts with actors on sets? We won’t know all that as the film rarely takes us to a set or a stage. Instead, a considerable time is given to Sudhir travelling to places like Bombay, Jaipur, Sagar etc and talking about ‘Being a Bambaikar’, ‘Jaipur ki Meethi Boli’…

More importantly, the film fails to answer whether Jaideep Varma’s preconceived notions about Sudhir Mishra prior to making the film altered during the process. Instead, there’s a scene of him peeing in the fields. The documentary takes itself too seriously yet does not ask serious enough questions and doesn’t know when to relax. Even the moment of levity is jarring. Add monotonous, repetitive editing technique to the pyre and what you have are the reels of Baavra Mann burning. And I prefer to stay silent than stop this fire.



One thought on “Article, Review and Q&A Session of ‘Baavra Mann’, a Documentary on the life of Director-Scriptwriter Sudhir Mishra, Directed by Jaideep Varma (Part 2 of 3)

  1. Pingback: Q&A Session with Jaideep Verma, Director of ‘Baavra Mann’, a Documentary on the life of Director-Scriptwriter Sudhir Mishra (Part 3/3 in ‘Baawra Mann’ Series) | Film Louvre

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