How Adhiraj made Naseeruddin Shah an Internet Sensation with the Award Winning Film, Interior Café Night?

Reading Time: 5 minutes

 

Adhiraj Bose, a young director, was just 23--old, when he directed the 13-minute film, Interior Café Night, with renowned actors like Naseeruddin Shah and Shernaz Patel. Three later, the short film on the Internet is a sensation with six million views. Mahima interviews Adhiraj, in the weekly column, exclusively in Different Truths.

The set is a rustic yet charming and cosy Cafe, on a monsoon night. A dignified Shernaz Patel is sitting alone at a table when Naseeruddin Shah spots her and tries to recognise her from the corner of his cash counter. He owns the Cafe and perhaps at some point in life, he knew this as well.

Naseer walks to Shernaz, his aged eyes twinkling with recognition, holding in them his long lost love found again. And thus starts the 13-minute, much-acclaimed, -winning Interior Cafe Night. The film is about the two lovers uniting, giving a damn to their age as the story unfolds in a parallel running flashback on how and when they failed to hold onto each other under the circumstances or perhaps their own weakness to take a stand.

The film which saw the light of the day in 2014, became an internet sensation only in the last one year. It crossed six million views – and is still counting. It not only delights because of its powerful star-cast of Naseeruddin Shah and Shernaz Patel, who play the elder couple, while Shweta Basu Prasad and Naveen Kasturia enact their versions. But, the real joy is in its powerful of emotions we usually hold back and regret. And this has been done by a young director, 23-year-old Adhiraj Bose.That was his age (he is 26 years, now) when he directed this super-successful emotional saga.

Let us talk to Adhiraj to revive behind the scene action and unravel the unknown side of his life.

Mahima: Adhiraj, coming straight to the point, you made your debut with stalwarts like Naseeruddin Shah and Shernaz Patel. How did this happen?

Adhiraj:  I had worked with Naseer Sir in a documentary that I had directed earlier. It was calledGoonj. When I wrote the script, we sent it to him. He liked it and agreed to do it. Same with Shernaz ma’am. I have admired her work before and we approached her with the script once it was written.

Mahima: Weren’t you intimidated by their persona?

 

Adhiraj: The experience was extremely enriching. They were actors who brought much more to the film than was expected. They helped the film become a lot better than the script.

Mahima: Shweta, Naveen who play the younger Naseer Saab and Shernaz are close to your age. How was it like balancing the two different sides of the beam?

Adhiraj: Yes, Shweta and Naveen are fine actors too. Shweta has been my best friend since high school so it was as easy as that. She also co-produced this short film with me. Naveen also became a friend during the process of making this film, and he was very easy to work with. All in all, it was fun at work and I learned a lot from each one of them. Amazing people!

Mahima: What preparations went into directing this film?

 

Adhiraj: The entire team prepared quite a lot actually. We were low on budget and time, so we had to work around it. We shot the entire film in just one night, so we ensured we had two cameras and ample rehearsals to speed up the process.

 

Mahima: The entire film shot in one night! That only reflects the huge potential you have Adhiraj! Then why a director of this calibre chose a short film as his directorial debut?

Adhiraj: I surely want to direct a feature length film soon. A short film is a step that helps you grow towards it. Plus, once this script was written, it was a film I wanted to go and make anyway.

Mahima: Tell us how was the subject of the film was decided.

 

Adhiraj: The script was co-written by Sainee Raj and me. I wanted to make something around the theme of memories and reunion. And why should age decide a reunion?

Mahima: A film that was shot in 2014 started its major journey in 2016. It then became a digital sensation only in 2017. Express the journey, please.

Adhiraj: Yes, we made this film in 2014. The short film space on the Internet wasn’t as big as it is today. So for the first two years, our film just went around to the festivals. And then it was released online. The digital media has opened up its wings only in the recent times. The experience has been great and I’ve learned a lot throughout the journey.

Mahima: How many awards has the film won so far?

 

Adhiraj: The film was officially selected in around 25 festivals around the world and has won at around seven of them. On the Internet, it has close to 6 million views including various portals on YouTube and .

Mahima: Tell us about your professional background as a director.

 

Adhiraj: I am a Mass Media graduate, who started off as an assistant director in feature films by Vishal Bhardwaj Pictures. In the last few years, I have directed short films, ad films, etc. I also co-wrote the screenplay and dialogues of a film to be directed by Bejoy Nambiar. And I’m currently finishing the script of the feature film that I want to direct.

Mahima: Please tell us about your family.

 

Adhiraj: My family comprises of my parents and my younger sister. They are my support system, I am what I am today thanks to their faith in me. My father was into banking and insurance. But they have all been supportive about my love for cinema and stepping into filmmaking. I never faced the issue,“Banker ka beta Banker or Doctor.”

Mahima: So you mean ‘Adhiraj – the kid’ was allowed to live his Bollywood dreams?

 

Adhiraj: My love for films was always there. I used to love watching films and would talk about it whenever I got a chance. Initially, of course, didn’t know too much about what the director does. But once I did, I knew what I wanted to for the rest of my life.

Mahima: Not coming from the film fraternity yet stepping into the world primarily being driven by nepotism. Describe your journey.

Adhiraj: Yes, I haven’t had people in my family who work in films. But I believe I worked hard and passionately, and hope to continue doing so. I don’t really have any strong views for or against nepotism. I think talent, sincerity and hard work are the primary pre-requisites for everyone in the long run.

Mahima: What are your next projects?

 

Adhiraj: I am currently finishing the script of my feature length film, which I can reveal only at the right time. I keep directing Ad films and other short contents side by side, but my main focus is on my feature film.

Mahima: Any message to the young film makers in the age of a Censor Board trying to clip wings of realistic cinema.

 

Adhiraj: I genuinely don’t understand the functioning of the CBFC (Censor Board). Something really needs to be done about that body. It’s a serious disadvantage to filmmakers and filmmaking.

Mahima: It was really nice talking to you Adhiraj. Any parting message?

 

Adhiraj: Thank you, my family, and all those who had faith in me. And thank you Different Truths and Mahima for bearing with my delay in the interview! Thanks for space and time!

And the serious director Adhiraj wraps up showing his trademark funny side known only to a few like me. Here’s the link to the short film which has gone viral on social media:

©Mahima Sharma

Photos sourced by the author.

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Mahima Sharma

Mahima Sharma

A science graduate from Delhi University and MA in Mass Communication, Mahima Sharma began her career with E-Lexicon PR & Mutual PR and Hindustan Times. Soon, ANI-Reuters got her aboard, where she spread her wings in TV, Print & Digital Journalism. In 2010 Rajdeep Sardesai's flagship prime-time show gave her, a dream job at CNN-IBN. From May 2017, she is a freelance journalist. She is a poet and a Sufi at heart.
Mahima Sharma
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