Belfast Telegraph

Ritesh Batra: I took conscious step to return to directing my own writing

The director’s latest film Photograph sees him return to his birthplace of Mumbai.

Ritesh Batra (Andy Kropa/AP)
Ritesh Batra (Andy Kropa/AP)

The Lunchbox director Ritesh Batra has said he took a “conscious step” to go back to directing his own writing.

The filmmaker, who recently helmed The Sense Of An Ending starring Charlotte Rampling and Jim Broadbent and Our Souls At Night starring Robert Redford and Jane Fonda, said he made the deliberate choice to return to his own writing with new film Photograph.

He told PA: “I really wanted to go back to my own writing and direct my own writing.

“That was a conscious step I’ve taken in my career, that I’m only going to direct my own writing, and this is something that I had written already and so I was excited to go and make it.”

He added: “I just learned that I enjoy more directing my own material, it’s just more of a joy to me to direct my own material, I’m more connected to it.

“Everything has a centre and the things that you write, every scene, the emotional beat of every character has to be connected to that centre and you are just more aware of that thing inside yourself, that impulse that makes you write it and that really helps you when you’re directing it.”

Batra said he made the decision two years ago, adding: “It’s different for different people.

“There are people who don’t write and only direct and the only way to learn more about yourself is to keep busy and keep working, so had I not directed other people’s writing I wouldn’t have learned more about my own, so I appreciated those opportunities.”

He continued: “I had great collaboration with other writers. I had a great collaboration with Michael (H Weber) and Scott (Neustadter) on the Redford movie and they had really good energies… I do love the collaboration aspect of it but at the same time I really missed not directing my own writing and I really missed the loneliness of sitting and writing and creating something on a blank page.”

Photograph sees the New York-based director return to India to tell a story about a struggling street photographer in Mumbai, where The Lunchbox was also set, who convinces a stranger to pose as his fiancee when he is pressured to marry by his grandmother.

Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Sanya Malhotra in Photograph (Joe D’Souza/Curzon)

He said: “I grew up in India at this time when it was very different and I left when I was 18 or 19 and things changed very quickly, so the way I look at it is with a lot of nostalgia and the character also has a lot of nostalgia.”

He added: “In Bombay everything exists at the same time, the old and the new, so you will see a lot of these photographers and you will see a lot of people with their phones as well.

“In India everything exists together and you can’t really tell a linear story about the evolution about things in India, because everything is mixed up.”

Photograph is out now in UK cinemas and on Curzon Home Cinema.



From Belfast Telegraph