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An Interview with Girish Malik

Question 01: How do you feel now when 'Jal' aims something big in the Academy Award Red Carpet? 

Girish Malik:  I am excited, hopeful and nervous.  I believe JAL is a film that should go wider. It’s an idea that was nurtured over many years. And also took a comparatively longer time to make the film. It’s been an uphill task as there are no big names attached with this film in any department. Most of the technical team, direction department, DOP, Sound designer and even our production company and the producers were either newcomers or with not much experience. That is also probably the reason why the film has struggled to catch the attention of people and the media. But I have also received a lot of very touching response from people who have seen the film. 

Question 02: Jal portrays a complex story of love, emotions and relations. What compelled you to handle such a complex subject in your directorial venture? 

Girish Malik: I have been living with the idea of JAL for a very long time, almost 10 years. What started as an idea for a documentary about migratory birds and the environmental factors affecting them evolved in to a human story over the years. Kutch is known to have the largest breeding ground for Flamingos in Asia and it is also home to many other species of migratory birds. I made many visits to Kutch for my research and over the years got really fascinated with the place and the people living there, these nomadic and semi-nomadic tribes that keep moving yet call this hostile desert home, pretty much like the flamingos. Water scarcity again is a global issue that is also what these people are facing. This world was very interesting for me and with this fascinating backdrop I started to tell a story about these people. I felt so close and so motivated to tell this story and to showcase this world that I never thought of it as a very complex subject that I probably should not have attempted as my first film. 

Question 03: The movie is entirely shot in the Rann of Kutch, and the cinematographer has succeeded in making this film a visual treat. How valuable was Sunita Radia's contribution in making this movie? 

Girish Malik:  Kutch is an absolutely surreal place. There was a certain vision I had for how this film should look. And I was very sure that I did not want a DOP who came with pre-conceived notions. Jal is Sunita’s second film as an independent cinematographer though I had earlier worked with her when she was assisting, Binod Pradhan. She was very open and enthusiastic and gave me exactly what I wanted. She is also very hard working and a very positive energy on the sets. The shooting conditions were very harsh and still she was always upbeat and raring to go. With somebody who was not as enthusiastic as her, it would have been extremely tough to even finish the shoot in such tough conditions. She just made it very easy. 

Question 04: Tell us something about the music department handled by Sonu Nigam and Bickram Gosh. 

Girish Malik: The music had a huge part to play in the narrative of the film. From the very beginning I was very clear about how I wanted the film to look, but I was still searching for the right sounds. During my research I came across, Bickram’s Primal track from his album Kingdom of Rhythm and that struck a chord with me. I had a meeting with him and we connected. Sonu I knew separately and we had earlier discussed other projects but I had never worked with him. During my conversations with Bickram I found out that he was collaborating with Sonu on an album. From there the idea formed of both of them collaborating on JAL. The work that happened on the music and background score of the film was very extensive, over almost an year. Each and every sound was worked upon with a lot of thought, keeping in mind the space and emotions of the film. It was a great experience working on the sounds of JAL. Both Sonu and Bickram are incredibly talented and very passionate about their art. We connected immensely on a creative level. Most of the work happened at Bickram’s Kolkata studio and he used all live instruments and musicians. It was a real delight working with these two. 

Question 05: You started your career as an actor. How did your acting experiences helped during the shooting of 'Jal'? 

Girish Malik: Yes I have been actor and that does help while handling and instructing actors. What was also very helpful was my experience on stage, as I had done a lot of theater at one time and also my experience as a dancer that gave me a sense of rhythm and music and how it is to be used as a tool for storytelling. 

Question 06: What is the message which Jal is conveying to the modern world which is highly fast paced?

Girish Malik:  With JAL the idea was to draw people’s attention to the severity and consequences of water scarcity. To make them think and start a conversation about this very serious global issue and also to hopefully inspire them to respect and protect the environment. Though I never wanted to be very preachy and tried to convey the message as part of the story to try and reach a wider audience. 

Question 07: Tell us something about your future projects. 

Girish Malik:  There are two very interesting international projects that I am working on right now but they are still in development so, I would not like to talk much about them. Apart from that work is on my next film that is a quirky comedy about three young folk musicians from a border village in Punjab, India landing up in Pakistan. The shoot for the film will start by the end of the year. 



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