As an introverted guy, filmmaker Aditya Dhar, who won a national award for his very first directorial, Uri: The Surgical Strike, had no qualms staying indoors during the national lockdown that lasted a few months. Even as the lockdown has been eased out in phases, the writer-director does not believe in stepping out of his house unless unavoidable.
Talking about it, Aditya says, “I am not the hang-out type. The best place to be for me is my house. I love being home and that has been the case with me for over a decade now, since the time I moved to Mumbai. I like working in seclusion and solitude. I got a lot of that during the lockdown; it’s almost as if I was prepping for this for 12 years. I stayed home and I revisited a lot of my other screenplays that I had written over the years while learning the ropes of cinema. I could rework some of them. Those stories, in fact, helped me space out the work I was doing on Ashwatthama. You need to take a break to regain objectivity. I also cooked a lot. I’m a hotel management graduate, so I put that training to good use while at home. I also watched some of the content I had missed watching in the last two-three years because I was caught up. Being in lockdown had its benefits for me. I made it a point to avoid morose and dark content. Another learning that came out of lockdown is that there are so many more ways of making things work. I mean, I chatted with all my HODs from India and from the UK and the USA on zoom calls. The timings were a little off but it saved us a lot of time and energy. One does not need to be in the same room to make plans. You need to be on the same page. Over the years, I have seen this in our industry that people travel hours to say two important lines in a meeting that lasts hours with a lot of random topics being discussed. Efficient use of time and place is what this lockdown has taught people.”
Despite the lockdown, the talk around Ashwatthama refused to drown out. The film has already become talk of town with the kind of scale and story that it promises to bring to the table. When asked about that, Aditya says, “We have a strong villain and a powerful leading lady in the film apart from Ashwatthama. I have always believed that the greater the opponent and the tougher the conflict, the more effective the story looks. To answer your question, I enjoy this pressure. It pushes me to do better. If there was no expectation from the film, one would not have the reason to push oneself. The pressure pushes me to go beyond what has been seen and done.”