An Interview with Rahul Jain (Director)
The Film Director is Not a “Savior”
Q: I’d like to first ask after the circumstances behind production. Why are the three countries of India, Germany, and Finland all involved in the production?
RJ: In November of 2015, I had a film that I had shot by myself, that I was in the midst of completing, and I presented it at a film bazaar in Goa, India. There was a Finnish judge there who took an interest in the film, and he became my producer. Also, a German co-producer raised the funds for sound and coloring post-production. That is why the three countries of India, Germany, and Finland are credited.
Q: When I watch the film, I get a sense of the picture being constructed meticulously. How did you approach the factory workers who are the subject of this film?
RJ: I wasn’t particularly looking to have them be subjects. If I had to say, it is perhaps something like not letting them be conscious of the camera. Two months before we started filming, I spent some time with them without a camera at hand, and in doing so, we built an environment where they would not be nervous even when they were aware of the camera.
Q: The sound is also very striking. It seemed like the systematic sounds of the factory were a drug that robbed the workers of their vitality. Did you have any particular experiences of the sound onsite?
RJ: The workers were blocking the sounds with headphones. But when I asked the workers who had returned to the village from the factory, they said that they couldn’t sleep, that the sound of the machines was stuck in their ears. You could say that their ears were completely destroyed. When I spent three months at the factory, my hearing was completely incapacitated, I bled, and for about two years afterward, I couldn’t listen to music with very loud noises.
Q: During production, you interviewed one of the factory managers. Would it be accurate to say that his view of the workers is a commonly held one among factory managers in India?
RJ: Yes. There are about 1,300 factories in that region. The factory in the film is said to be the best one among them, and it’s in that condition. I can only guess at the state of the other factories.
Q: In the final stretch of the film, there is a scene where you are surrounded by the workers, and they keep asking you, “What can you do for us?” What do you think this film can do for the workers?
RJ: I guess people see film directors as saviors. Everyone knows that the journalist’s job is to transmit information from A to B. And yet, it seems like everyone thinks that if a film director is dealing with a problem, he must know the solution to it. This film was not made for the working classes. They do not even have the time to see a film, after all. We, the members of the middle and upper classes who have that time, should think about and take appropriate action. I think it’s a film for that kind of purpose.
Q: Lastly, could you tell us your thoughts on having completed your debut film?
RJ: I want to make the next one. But I’m nervous about it. You need money to make a film, after all. But I want to build on the foundations that the success of this film has granted me, and make a film that digs into a subject that thoroughly preoccupies me, such that every time I think about it, I am unable to sleep at night. For my next film, I am thinking of tackling the issue of New Delhi’s land, water, and air pollution.
(Compiled by Sakurai Hidenori)
Interviewers: Sakurai Hidenori, Numazawa Zenichiro / Interpreter: Kawaguchi Takao / Translator: Joelle Tapas
Photography: Satsusa Takahiro / Video: Takahashi Asuka / 2017-10-07