Prime Video launches masterclass series in Pune with Nitesh Tiwari, Janhvi Kapoor, Antara Lahiri

Prime Video today announced the commencement of a series of masterclasses to be held across key film and television institutes in India. These masterclasses are a part of the Letter of Engagement (LoE), signed between Amazon India and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) earlier this year. The collaboration between Amazon and MIB seeks to promote creative talent, commence capacity-building measures and showcase Made in India creative content, globally. The maiden masterclass in this series was held at the Film and Television Institute of India, Pune, and was attended by National Award-winning director Nitesh Tiwari, talented and popular actor Janhvi Kapoor, renowned film editor Antara Lahiri, along with Shri Vikram Sahay, Joint Secretary, MIB, with Sushant Sreeram, Country Director, Prime Video, India, hosting the session.

Titled “Crafting Stories that Resonate”, the masterclass traversed a variety of topics of interest to the students, ranging from finding the right stories, infusing them with relatability, the significance of writing to the role of improvisation in acting, and the changes brought forth by streaming.

Nitesh Tiwari, who is known for directing films like Bawaal, Dangal, Chhichhore, Chillar Party, as well as writing and producing several others, spoke about the process of casting in a film. “It’s a rule which me and my writers normally follow; we do not keep any actor in mind when writing the story,” he said. “All of us have certain perceptions about various actors – someone does a particular kind of role well, someone is good in action or emotional scenes – you have those perceptions, and once you keep an actor in mind, you will start writing to their strengths and start avoiding what you perceive are their weaknesses. You will never get any surprises then. And our cinema has suffered because of that, because we keep on seeing actors doing the same things over and over again, and that’s because the roles were written for specific actors only.”

When asked about his opinion on the final film being different from the initial vision, he stressed on the need for directors to be receptive to change saying, “It’s always significantly different. If it is not then maybe somewhere I’m failing as a director because I have probably gotten into a tunnel vision as a writer and I’ve only managed to deliver that. So, I personally put a lot of stress on myself, and make a lot of effort in lifting the vision that I had as a writer, along with my co-writers, to deliver something which is cinematically much better than what was initially expected.”

Talking about the process of acting and the role of improvisation in acting, Janhvi Kapoor who’s played the lead in films like Bawaal, Dhadak, Mili, Roohi, among others, said, “As actors we have a very unique responsibility to give birth to a complete human being. And each human being is so specific in their baggage, memories, hopes, and desires that no two people, even if they’ve been brought up together in the same household, can ever have the same outlook on things. So, the thing is to know your character as well as possible, and then even if you’re not improvising dialogues, sometimes in the middle of doing a scene, you might discover a feeling that feels very honest to who your character is, and even that can count as an improvisation.”

Talking further about identifying when an actor should pivot in their career, Janhvi said, “When you identify that as a performer you’ve developed crutches that you go to easily, things that you know come naturally to you, are convenient and will be liked by every director, then you should identify that you’re only impressing yourself or the people at the moment. But as an actor you need to keep pushing yourself, breaking those crutches, challenging yourself, going into unchartered territories. For a while now, I’ve played slightly more vulnerable characters, perhaps even slightly backfoot characters with a lot of sincerity. I think that I’ve developed my go-to regimen to what someone like that would be like, and just for my sake, and for what I feel like doing as an artist, I feel I want to go away from it, pivot and challenge myself. Soon hopefully!”

Film editor Antara Lahiri, who has worked on films and series like Shakuntala Devi, Four More Shots Please! S2, Modern Love Mumbai and more, spoke about the intertwined relationship between direction and editing. “Editing and filmmaking, in general, is very collaborative. It doesn’t really belong to one individual as a process,” she said. “It works best when you’re working with a director who’s extremely secure and open to ideas. I think, sometimes, it works against the story if the director is very fixated on his or her way of telling the story, and not particularly keen to collaborate. You need to be given the space to explore, and if a director is willing to give you that space, that’s really a very interesting collaboration.”

Prime Video will be organizing subsequent masterclasses, all as a part of the Letter of Engagement with MIB, in premier film institutes around the country.

Also Read: Prime Video to release docuseries on AP Dhillon on August 18

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