Bollywood's mainstream entertainment doesn't entertain him. But showcasing the underbelly of the industry's sex and horror films of the 1980s through his film "Miss Lovely" has won filmmaker Ashim Ahluwalia a chance to be invited at the 65th Cannes International Film Festival.
The reclusive, virtually-unknown Ahluwalia's film will be screened as part of the Un Certain Regard section at Cannes.
More than the glamour of the posh cinematic jamboree, the Mumbai-based filmmaker is upbeat about unveiling a different side of Indian cinema to the world.
"I am excited to see the response to a new kind of Indian film that breaks conceptions of what Indian films can be. This ('Miss Lovely') is unlike anything people expect from India," said Ahluwalia.
His last film, "John & Jane", was released in 2005, and "Miss Lovely" features actors like Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Niharika Singh and Anil George, will release this year. He is happy with his pace, as well as his with his space from mainstream Bollywood films.
"I don't honestly relate to Bollywood. It's just not something that reflects our country or how we live," he said.
Here are excerpts from the interview:
Q. Your second feature film "Miss Lovely" has been selected for the Un Certain Regard section at Cannes. What does this honour mean to you?
'Miss Lovely' wasn't an easy film to make and films that are different, rarely get support in our Mumbai film industry. So it's a nice thing that after five years of working on a film, it has a place like Cannes to go to. It feels like a good way to let the film out into the world.
Q. What are your plans for Cannes? Are you looking forward to being there with your film and all the glamorous invitees?
I'm not so interested in the glamour of Cannes. I would be making a different kind of cinema if I was. But I am excited to see the response to a new kind of Indian film that breaks conceptions of what Indian films can be. This ('Miss Lovely') is unlike anything people expect from India. It's not a song and dance extravaganza and nor is it about rural poverty. It is something altogether different.
Q. The last film to be invited to Cannes was "Udaan". Your opinion on that film?
I haven't seen it. I don't watch much Bollywood.
Q. What is your opinion on Bollywood cinema and its filmmakers?
I don't honestly relate to Bollywood. It's just not something that reflects our country or how we live. For me, it's fake and leaves me kind of empty. I have much greater expectations from cinema. Having said that, there is a lot of Indian cinema I love. It's just not Bollywood though.
Q. Just two feature films in you entire career and "Miss Lovely" is your first film in six years. Why the sparse output? As a filmmaker don't you crave to put more of your thoughts on screen?
I'm just very slow, I need to live with the film and the subject for a long time. I'm really not in so much of a hurry, though.
Q. Tell us about yourself. Why is so little known about you?
I don't enjoy doing press so much .I prefer to let my films speak for themselves.
Q. What do you think of Bollywood mainstream cinema? You are quite the outsider to Mumbai's entertainment industry. Are you averse to the culture of mass entertainment?
I don't watch them. I'm not averse, but mainstream entertainment doesn't entertain me so much.
Q. Your film "Miss Lovely" takes a satirical look at the culture of potboilers in the 1980s. Are you of the opinion that the 1980s were the bottom-most rung of intellectual aridity in mainstream Hindi cinema?
The film is not a parody. It's set in the world of sex and horror films of the 1980s. In fact, I don't laugh at these films at all but marvel at how they were made so cheaply, with so few resources. In that sense, they were the original independent films of their time.
Q. Finally, what next? Are you going to make another film after another six years?
I hope I can work that fast.