Artist And Filmmaker Ishan Sharma On Following His Passion, And Taking The Road Less Travelled

Writer-director Ishan Sharma goes by the moniker Supertramp—under which he creates bodies of work that are reminiscent of what we are as a society. The latest project under this is Gau Ki Baat—a political satire on the holy cow. A progressive thinker, he kicked his engineering career and took up the one thing he likes the most, films! We catch up with Sharma who tells us about his love for cinema, the deep connection it has with music, and everything in between. We find out more in this segment of the #shadesofsoundseries.   

Tell us a bit about your moniker Supertramp!

The name “Supertramp” comes from the American hiker and traveller Alexander Supertramp who gave away his modern life for an ascetic journey into the wild. There is a small part inside all of us which yearns to be lost in the most ancient places—the oceans, the mountains, volcanoes and forests. To be one with nature. And that part was slowing dying inside of me after having lived in cities like Delhi, Bombay and Calcutta all these years. Hence, the name, Supertramp so that I may never forget the tramp way of life. (smiles).

The significance of music is huge in films, on that note, could you tell us your thoughts about this relationship, and how would you use music to get an emotion out of the audience?

Of course, music and films is an undying marriage. Like music, films also have a rhythm, a tempo, a mood. Can you imagine Star Wars without its iconic soundtrack? I always try and listen to new sounds from all over the world. Sometimes it’s amazing how a producer from Turkey can create a song that fits right into a film you made in Rajasthan. Jim Jarmusch, one of America’s most famous filmmakers is also an amazing underground musician. He uses diverse eastern and western sounds in his films.  This kind of an explosion of cultures is what makes both mediums rise up to create something truly special.

According to you what comes first, the script or the actor?

Always the script! The song comes to the musician, not the other way around.

The film circuit is filled with mediocre things inside and out, so in times like these how do you make meaning films that have something meaningful to say?

Well, I suppose you have to have something meaningful to say first. Plus, whenever you’re stuck in mediocrity, turn to the masters… and this is true for every medium. Whenever I find myself writing/making something that I’m not entirely happy about, I turn to Stanley Kubrick, Yasujirō Ozu, Guru Dutt to try and remember, that this pursuit of creating something honest, and brilliant, is what is important. You gotta have something to say, you gotta work on your skill sets, you gotta learn as much as you can and be completely honest about your work. After that, whether the film is good or bad depends on a lot of other factors.

Could you take us through the inception of Gau Ki Baat? What significance does this short film hold in your creative pursuit?

Our country is going through a lot of shit lately (literally) and I wanted to tackle the cow politics that has been going on for a while. And I always like confronting serious issues with comedy. I mean, two gau-rakshaks drinking gau-mutra shots and talking about writing love songs for gau-mata, it’s hilarious but it’s also true. Crazy things like these can only happen in India.

If you were to pick three books to turn them into films, which would it be, and why?

  1. Doga: Not technically a book, but I have always wanted to make a film on Doga, the Indian Punisher.
  2. The Town of Cats: A short story by Haruki Murakami that has the potential to become a full-fledged film. It’s taking magic realism to another level and I absolutely love the idea of losing yourself in a town full of cats.
  3. Norwegian Wood: A masterpiece by Haruki Murakami. Although a film has already been made on this, I would absolutely love to adopt it in an Indian setting. It is a blockbuster waiting to happen.

The genres that excite you as a cinephile?

My favourite genre is Noir/ Thrillers. I absolutely love Murder mysteries and detective fiction dramas, Chinatown is a prime example.

What do sunglasses mean to you? If you had the option to teleport to wherever you want to, as soon as you put on your sunglasses, where one would it be?

Really, I love eyeglasses because it gives me my own little private world—it divides me from all the noise outside and gets me into a relaxed, personal zone. If I had to teleport somewhere, it would definitely be Antarctica, the end of the world, into the least explored part of the world. Remember my name?

Follow Ishan Sharma on Instagram here.

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