M Cream: youthful experiments
A film about four college students struggling to define their politics comes to New Delhi and Mumbai
Four University of Delhi students go on a road trip in search of a magical variant of hash in director Agneya Singh’s film M Cream. Along the way, they are faced with the choice to participate in socio-political struggles like the Free Tibet movement and a campaign against deforestation, or go back to their apathetic lives in the city. Shot beautifully in parts of Himachal Pradesh, from Kullu to Parvati Valley, M Cream won this year’s Rhode Island International Film Festival award for Best Feature Film.
In an interview ahead of the first screenings of M Cream in New Delhi and Mumbai, Singh spoke about his experiments with film-making and how an incidental play became a profound scene in M Cream. Edited excerpts:
The film asks the question, “What does it mean to be a revolutionary?”.
I think Gandhi was the perfect example of a revolutionary. He simply believed in the sanctity of life above all else. Making this film was a cathartic process and I am left with the firm belief that non-violence is the answer.
Tell us about the use of hash and drugs, as a device in the film.
The film doesn’t glorify the use of drugs, nor does it condemn the same. Since we are trying to explore the idea of rebellion, escapism through the use of drugs is certainly one end of the spectrum. In the film, hash is the plot device that propels the story forward. M Cream refers to a mythical, magical variant of hash that is supposedly the objective of our routine-weary characters at the onset of the film.
You’ve touched upon issues like freeing Tibet and checking corruption in the film.
We have endeavoured to explore issues that dominate the socio-political reality of our times. Naturally, these include the nexus between religion and politics, corruption and just exactly what the anti-corruption movement entails, environmental degradation and of course the larger interplay between apathy and activism. These are issues that concern not just the youth but also all of us as a whole. The underlying current through all of these issues is the fundamental question of what we as individuals can do in a society that makes absolutely no sense. The Free Tibet issue is a classic example of a noteworthy cause that has been hijacked by overtones of religiosity.
Tell us about your travels during the making of this film.
The shoot itself was a wild adventure that led us from the dingy alleyways of Paharganj (in New Delhi) to the highest reaches of the Himalayas. We travelled extensively across the Parvati Valley, infamous as the hash-growing belt of Himachal Pradesh. One particular anecdote that comes to mind is when we were shooting outside a fairly unknown monastery in Kullu. We had just completed our schedule for the day and were about to wrap up. Just at that time Imaad Shah, one of the lead actors in the film, began an impromptu football match with a group of young Buddhist monks in training. Our other lead actress, Auritra Ghosh, joined in and it didn’t take long for us to get the cameras rolling again. That sequence turned out to be one of the most poignant moments in the film.
Did you also experiment with the technical aspects of the film?
There are very few close-ups in our movie. This was a conscious decision because we wanted to maintain the equilibrium between the actor and the environment. Since our film is propelled very much by the story, we felt it was essential to maintain a realism. The editing too reflects this need and sentiment—we were lucky to get Hemanti Sarkar. The costumes were chosen on account of authenticity to the characters rather than fashion trends of the day. As far as the music is concerned, we owe it all to Studio Fuzz, a composing/recording studio in New Delhi started by Srijan Mahajan, Arsh Sharma and Nikhil Malik, musicians representing some of the best indie bands in the country.
What do you hope the viewers will take away from the film?
I wouldn’t really call M Cream a film with a “message” so much as a film that is a reflection of our troubled times. I hope the film could engage viewers enough to highlight the need to protest against the rising tide of conformity.
M Cream will be screened on 15 September, 7pm, at India Habitat Centre, Lodi Road, New Delhi; and on 4 October, 7pm, at Light Box Theatre, Khira Nagar, Santacruz (West), Mumbai. It will also travel to festivals in the US, including the Indie Spirit Film Festival in Colorado and the Chicago South Asian Film Festival between September-October.
Editor's Picks »
- 5 issues that’ll dominate RBI board meeting tomorrow
- Future Retail’s Q2 result shows improvement in same-store sales
- Private insurance firms grow at the expense of LIC stuck with a sick bank
- Page Industries’s lofty valuations get a reality check in Q2
- Q2 results: Grasim’s Vodafone Idea stake is proving costly