By: Mohnish Singh
Ajay Sharma, who is a well-known film editor in Bollywood, recently made his directorial debut with a short film, titled Jolly 1995. Featuring Eshaan Shanker and Nida in central characters, the short film is currently streaming on popular digital media platform Disney+ Hotstar.
Eastern Eye recently talked to Ajay Sharma and asked him what led to the making of Jolly 1995, if making a transition to direction was a natural progression or a well-thought-out move, why he chose a short film to make his directorial debut and not a full-length feature film, and much more.
Tell us something about your short film Jolly 1995.
Jolly 1995 is a story about first love set in 1995 when there were no mobile phones or the internet. That was the era of hand-written letters, cassettes, and Walkman. All of these were instrumental in my teen years and hence, you will see their influence in the film too. We all have a first love story and mostly those would have failed because we were younger and less experienced at the emotion, like I was while making this labour of love. Yet, we never forget those innocent moments which we all have lived because it is your first, and firsts are always special. Jolly 1995 gives you a chance to revisit those magical moments once again and relive your firsts.
Where did you get the basic idea from?
The definition of love has undergone drastic changes; very calculated these days, influenced by a lot of factors. I am sure there are some exceptions – I am not neglecting those – but a lot of the youth are far more practical today. In my growing years, we were innocent, influenced by Yash Chopra, SRK romance. I thought it would be nice to give a peak (to the youth of today) into the peaceful and patient times of love.
Is there any interesting story behind naming the film Jolly 1995? The title sounds very quirky to me?
I’ll leave this one for everyone to watch the film and understand.
How romantic were you when you were in that age and phase?
I was exactly like Rahul. It took me 3 years to tell my classmate that I liked her.
You have edited some of the most memorable films of the decade. When did you decide to transition to filmmaking? Was it a natural progression or a well thought out move?
There is no transition as such. There have been so many successful editors who are also great filmmakers. I am hoping I’ll be one too someday. I love editing. I am very, very excited about my next film Rashmi Rocket as an editor. But I love to tell stories which I feel only I can express because they are based on my experiences. Hopefully, I will get many more such opportunities in the future to edit as well as direct.
Do you believe an editor is always a filmmaker at heart because we have seen so many editors who went on to become great filmmakers when they wielded the megaphone?
Filmmaking is an art by itself. Surely, if you are an editor, it is always an advantage as editors understand the value of frames. They know 12 frames are also very important in storytelling or conveying emotions. So, I cannot speak for others, but I am an editor by profession and a filmmaker at heart.
Why did you decide to make your directorial debut with a short film instead of a full-length feature film?
You get me someone to finance my big-budget dream project and I will make a feature film. HAHAHA! Jokes apart, I have not planned anything in life, but I follow a simple formula –whatever comes to me, I just do it with complete honesty and dedication. I wanted to tell this simple experience of my teenage years and 15 minutes were enough to experience it. It is not about the length of a film; it is about how much time you require for your story. I have a few experiences which cannot be told in 15 minutes. I will try to make them as a feature film.
How was it to work with Eshaan Shanker and Nida and what made you think they were perfect to play the parts?
Both Eshaan and Nida are very talented actors. Eshaan is very passionate about his art. Most of the time he expressed himself silently as his character had very few lines. Nida too had too much to do with expressing herself with only her eyes or smile. Parul and Daksh, they all are perfect for their part. I was lucky I had a good casting director Pankaj Joshi with me
What kind of response have you been getting for the short film?
Honestly, I was not very sure about the film. I had made this as an exercise. However, people are liking it. They are feeling nostalgic about this film. Their response has given me confidence. I am really glad it is being received well and very thankful that the audience is being kind to me.
What is next in store for you?
I am waiting for my next film Ludo to release and I am super excited to see the response people are giving to its trailer. Hoping this one will be warmly welcomed by the audience too. Meanwhile, I am making my edit notes for my next film Rashmi Rocket and whenever I get the time, I write. There is one idea which I want to develop a feature film for the future. Living one day at a time!
Jolly 1995 is currently streaming on Disney+ Hotstar.