Agneya Singh was 22 when he started making his first feature film. This is usually a time when, boys of his age are thinking of entering into MBA, making their college projects and deciding which area of the field is their interest. In two years, he had actually filmed it and the film was even cleared by the Censor Board of Film Certification. But Agneya did not release it. He, however, took it to the world. M Cream went to many film festivals, almost 30 of them and got big compliments in the form of words, ovations, and awards.Agneya Singh-M Cream-Director-Immad Shah-Ira Dubey-Interview-Bollywoodirect-Video

The path that he chose could be argued, keeping in mind the stake of other’s career at hold but it also shows how mature and daring a filmmaker he is.

Bollywoodirect caught Agneya in one-on-one chat and tried to know how this young filmmaker went about making his first feature film.

I think it was two years ago that we saw M Cream’s trailer and poster for the first time and then suddenly everything was put to rest. After two years, we are finally seeing M Cream hitting the theatres. Why did it get so delayed?

The fact is that we completed it in 2014. We had started promoting the film at that time. it was done to get a massive word of mouth. We then decided to take it abroad first. The plan was to take it to film festivals before releasing it in here in India. There are many reasons why taking a film to festivals is beneficial for an indie film. We were hoping to bring it early to India but there were a lot of factors delayed it.

Was censorship also a factor?

We had got one censorship through, which was an international version. I am talking about the one in 2014 when Leela Samson was CBFC chief. She was there as the chief I think for two months and before she left, we had got the certification. Actually, we had a long version. We wanted to release that version, which was unedited. But because this Udta Punjab controversy came along, we decided to go with the earlier one, which was passed by CBFC. That, of course, delayed matters for us. Censorship factor was one reason but it was not a big one, which stalled the film.

How did you think of making a film on this subject? A mythical drug, a road trip, love stories. How did this idea generate?

It was a very unusual concept. A lot of people has said this. I think there were many factors why this story was generated in my mind. I grew up in Delhi and I remember in high school, I had heard about this urban legend of M Cream, which is this mythical, magical drug. A lot of my friends took that journey to find that drug and I also went along in one of them. So, I think it is a kind of urban legend which I think people in Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore are familiar with. Every summer people go with their friends to the Himalayas in the north or places Kodai in the south of India. But Drugs is a kind of Plot device. It is the journey which really matters. It is a sort of coming of age voyage that a lot of people go through. Even if you don’t go for it, you have heard of it. I wanted to do this larger narrative on a new generation. The new youth rebellion.

Rebellious, Trippy & Sensuous: M Cream

You were just 23 when you started. Isn’t it?

I was actually 22…

Amazing. 22. There are some big theatre names are there in the film. There is Lushin Dubey, Tom Alter, Barry John. As a 22-year-old, how did you approach them? And what was your reaction when they came to know that you want to cast them?Agneya Singh-M Cream-Director-Immad Shah-Ira Dubey-Interview-Bollywoodirect-Video

It was a very ambitious thing at the start. I met a lot of stars as well and when they found out my age, it was a complete no from their point of view. That was the reason why I started faking my age. I started telling people I was much older. It was a step taken to make people a bit more serious towards me. Lushin, Tom, and Barry were very special. All of them were very welcoming to my idea and were very gracious, unlike a lot of other stars. Even though I was just starting out, they respected what I wanted to say. Stars have a huge ego, as I have felt. Sometimes their egos are bigger than the star power they possess. In our case, despite the fact that there were such well-known names from the industry and theatre circuit were there, they were really- really respectful. They were very supportive. In fact, the whole cast was very supportive.

I Had Taken Agneya Very Lightly When We First Met: Ira Dubey

What were the key challenges that you faced while filming?

Making a film is in itself a big challenge. It demands a lot of commitment. It is very hard to make a film. Many people who were working on it were inexperienced. It was hard because we were shooting with a big crew. We were shooting in Himachal with people we have never shot before. Sometimes, the equipment had to be manually carried, up and down the mountain. Logistics was a nightmare. The crew had a great attitude and the cast was very supportive. It was a like a family unit. That was a blessing. Even after making the film, there were many challenges. The post production was very difficult because as you know Bombay is very much controlled by the big studios. So, you have studio booking and go the studio for your work but a producer calls and shifts you two weeks down the line. The distribution was the biggest challenge. That was very hard. But with digital distribution coming into play, it is changing very quickly.

M Cream is being projected as India’s first stoner film. Is it true?

We never said that but gradually as more people knew about it and watched the trailer, they got excited and said this was India’s first stoner film. I think that tag got stuck with film. Stoner genre is very new, not only to India but at international levels as well. There are only a handful films only. it is called a stoner film because it deals with hash but also for me it deals with a new generation, how the youth grows up in the setup that India is. It is also a philosophical film. It has poetry, a love story. It is a mix of many genres.

M Cream Is A Lot More Than A Stoner Film

How did the inclination towards films happen to you?

Growing up, I never really connected with the culture because I thought that it was very commercial and very materialistic. Just because I had a lot of time on my own, I started watching films. I saw many amazing films. It moved me in a big way. I started doing photography and making documentaries. I felt that it is a very powerful medium. A film can affect somebody like nothing in an hour or two hours or maybe in the five-minute duration. I felt that there are many mediums which cannot touch it in that sense.

Interview By: Shubham Pandey

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