Filmmaker Prashant Nair talks about Tryst With Destiny's win at Tribeca Fim Festival in New York
This award-winning film is an ironic take on significant issues with a pinch of humour
Receiving the Best Screenplay in an International Narrative Feature Film Award at the Tribeca Film Festival 2020 in New York City, for his upcoming anthology feature, Tryst With Destiny definitely counts among the handful of good news that’s trickling in during the lockdown period. We are talking about the talented filmmaker Prashant Nair, whose 2015 feature Umrika became India’s only Sundance winner, picking up the coveted audience award in the international competition in 2015.
Born in Chandigarh to Indian diplomats and raised in Sudan, Switzerland, Syria, Zambia and Austria, Prashant, an electrical engineer and an erstwhile digital entrepreneur, quit the social media industry to try his hand at filmmaking. His first feature, Delhi In A Day, had a tiny release through the PVR Director’s Rare label and is now available on Netflix. He also directed two episodes of Made In Heaven.
Starring Ashish Vidyarthi, Suhasini Maniratnam, Viineet Kumar, Kani Kusruti, Jaideep Ahlawat and Palomi Ghosh, Tryst with Destiny is inspired by Nehru’s landmark speech of the same name on the eve of Independence in which he promised that there be “no resting for any of us until we make all the people of India what destiny intended them to be.” It features three pretty crazy stories in which characters from wildly different backgrounds struggle to control their destinies. Collectively the film explores how far we’ve come vis-a-vis the goals set in that speech.
In the first story, a self-made billionaire on the cusp of achieving his greatest ambitions finds out that not everything can be bought. In the second story, a lower caste couple must rebuild their lives. In the third, a cop struggles to upgrade his living conditions in order to please his mistress. We had a chat with Mallorcabased Nair about his win and more. Excerpts:
Tryst with Destiny has won the hearts of jury at Tribeca. With the pandemic on, when do you think it might get a theatrical release?
Nobody in the industry can say anything with any certainty at the moment. But I’m a believer in the streaming experience — it’s an incredible feeling for a filmmaker to know that your work is available to people around the world who can watch it at their convenience.
Your stories always have a message and lead to deeper introspection...
I’d say the goal is more to ask important questions that prompt introspection versus delivering a well-formulated message. As filmmakers, it’s often more rewarding when making the film allows you to better understand how you yourself feel about a certain theme. If you knew exactly what you wanted to say it would be boring. This film certainly tackles significant issues but it also features a lot of humour, irony, two pretty unusual love stories, car crashes, arson, robbery and a bunch of missing peacocks!
Can you tell us what made you make Trial by Fire, the web series on the Uphaar cinema fires?
Sidharth Jain of Story Ink first gave me the book it’s based on and I felt it was not only an extremely moving, intimate and relevant story, but it also addressed some of the key issues. We’re currently doing extensive research including talking to all parties involved but are still in the very early stages of the project.
Are there any other projects that you are planning?
I’m slowly writing my first English feature.