South Asian FACE
Mukherjee is the first Indian recipient of Vancouver Film School’s
prestigious VFS Full Time Scholarship award for Writing for Film and TV
(2004) for an application judged “exceptional in terms of talent and
his western avatar, he’s Sam Mukherjee.
178 cm powerhouse brew of irreverence, fortitude and humility may well
be the next big story both India and Canada will pitch in Hollywood.
Archer thanks him for contributing names for his novel. Sidney Sheldon
sends him season’s greetings.
On allegiance he says, "India is my mother and as a landed immigrant here, I’m wedded to Canada. I love them in different ways."
Australian screenwriter, playwright and novelist Ray Mooney says, “Sam
is one of the best I’ve ever worked with in Screenwriting. Genuinely
talented, totally dedicated and a delight, his professional approach,
positive attitude and generosity in assisting others stood him head and
shoulders above others. Every now and then a teacher is privileged to
come across a Sam and when it happens you know you have been rewarded
because everyone benefits.”
From Melbourne, Hon. Justice of the Peace for Victoria, Peter Rewal confirms Sam’s “high moral values.”
Sam spoke to South Asian Outlook (SAO) from Vancouver.
Since when did you want to pursue Screenwriting?
Since jungle barter existed. Once upon a time, a little boy went to the
movies with his mom. And he fell in love!
How did you decide on joining Vancouver Film School?
guru chooses his disciples. It’s never the other way around.
SAO: VFS’ Writing for Film and TV program is uniquely crafted, specialized and regarded as one of the best in North America. This must be quite an experience.
This is a Screenwriters’ place of worship. Our instructors are Gods. I
hang on to every word they utter. The workshopping is intensive. This
program is only for those who are ready for the extreme grind.
Can you see your films when you write?
I also see the posters and the trailer.
Would you like to work in India?
anything be more fulfilling than to be appreciated by your own?
Is show business hard to be in?
If you for once believe that you’re offering yourself to assassination
by pursuing your dreams, you’re the first one squeezing the trigger.
No faith led action can ever go wrong. God is on my side.
What is the difference between an ordinary story and a good story?
An ordinary story is like a rocking horse. You are in motion but going
nowhere. A good story will have a logical point of view, not an
emotional one. Here the viewer will take ownership of the story with
your guidance. It’s their job to get emotional, not yours.
How does a creative writer survive?
Any creative artist is like a cigarette burning slowly between two
fingers: one, of their own expectations, and second, the world’s.
Those in a state of constant departure, never arriving, survive. As
creative writers, we must never write ourselves off.
How important is community support?
SAM: Self-interest must turn into group interest. Whenever an Aishwarya Rai, a Sushmita Sen, a Shekhar Kapur or an Aamir Khan puts us on the world map, their triumph is my very own to cherish.
must stand by our own and assist
them to live up to global expectations.
From where do you draw
People! My mom tops the list, followed by dad, other loved family
members, supportive extended families, revered teachers, loyal friends
and sincere critics. Also deeply inspirational for me have been actor
Mithun Chakraborty, yoga guru Bikram Choudhury, scientist Dr. Birendra
Raj Dutt and consulting legend Rajat Gupta.
Who are your favourite Indian actors and why?
Look into Amitabh Bachchan’s eyes. Still as intense as they were
thirty years ago. Read Shah Rukh’s worry that he won’t measure up to
his own critical standards. Observe Aamir’s timing. They’re so good
that I’m terrified that they will make a mistake in every single
scene. Sunjay Dutt, Sunny Deol, Salman Khan, Ajay Devgun, Hrithik
Roshan, Akshay Kumar and Anil Kapoor are huge favourites. I never miss
any of their films.
What scripts are you presently working on?
episode for The Simpsons.
turbulent love story of an American soldier and an Iraqi woman during Operation
romantic comedy. A successful advertising executive starts dating his
secretary in a bid to rekindle his failing marriage.
What about your plans for the Indian screen?
By Fall 2004, two thrillers will be ready.
next one is about a celebrity actor who loses a leg in a freak accident
and is out of work. With his creditors hounding him, a criminal
acquaintance asks him to swing a robbery that only he can, with his
connections. Left with little choice, he plans and executes the robbery
with a team of crooks and finds love on the way.
are high velocity rollercoaster rides.
Are you also considering writing for crossover films?
certainly. The number of Indian immigrants is growing by the day. And
there is an ever-increasing demand for good films with universal themes.
Asia, the market of the future, is still quite untapped.
SAO: Penguin found your proposal on Villains in Indian Cinema interesting.
It was more an inquiry than a formal proposal. I went into print
journalism for a while at that time and the project didn’t happen.
Books and documentaries on Villains and Comedians in Indian cinema are
still on my mind. I had proposed a biography plan to screen legend
Dharmendraji in 1997 but he was busy then and it didn’t work out.
I’m planning writing a three part documentary and books on the Deols
and the Roshans.
Mukherjee is a promise waiting to be fulfilled.
asked, he describes himself as “an unripe fruit whose time is fast
approaching.” And when it finally does, he says, “I won’t have any
objection to myself.”
[Pictures by Lakshminarayan Thandu Kulasekaran]