Meet the versatile Nozzer Pardiwala whose latest film, IISTOO is making waves and deemed as a game changer in the Indie film categories based on the vibrant Parsi community. Educator, book author, supercool Dad and husband, blogger.
For the first time, you can watch IISTOO dialogue promo on the below link:
There is something very candid and in-your-face about Nozzer Pardiwala, he can be straightforward in a super gentle manner. We have come across countless tales and splash of passion for films. After all, who is that person on earth or truly Desi Indian who is not crazy about films being a nation sworn off lights, camera and action?
Nozzer Bhai, like I call him, is passionate about everything that he does in bundles, an educator and writer of several books and films. He started with the short film, Dabba with his two boys, Shahaan and Shahen about food wastage while Khwaab Not Out on the undying love for cricket.
The No Coppola filmmaker, as Nozzer Pardiwala calls himself has recently helmed the 32 minutes film IISTOO depicting the typical Parsi household. A filmmaker or passion for movies makes him a maverick, crazy soul for method in madness rules. Nozzer has a crazy little secret to share: “Life is a big circle where many prefer to call it a long journey. I always wanted to become a film maker but lacked the courage in telling it to the world. It occurred umpteen times in coming close to my dream but never made that choice. Once as a teenager, I went all the way to FTII Pune with the ‘full intention’ to hone the skills of becoming a filmmaker,” he muses.
“For some reason, I presented the prospectus to my father who would fork out the fees but told him that I wanted to pursue Cinematography. He scanned the prospectus and told, ‘But, for that you need to be in Science.’ I responded, ‘Yes, that’s the reason I cannot do it. Full stop. I couldn’t muster the courage to tell, ‘Dad! I am intrigued by the entire process and want to become a director. I wanted to make Films!!!’ Finally, I just wanted to convey the same to my father which I am doing through this interview.”
Like in the movies, there is poetic justice and felicity perhaps. Nozzer Pardiwala is churning his dreams with both gaiety and passion, a rare trait in a pursuer of dreams. He is a charmer of sort and the various anecdotes narrated in the vicissitude of passion for films and finding an element of grace, unwavering charm in Nozzer’s tales. Here’s another one: “Once in college, I happened to bump into Vishal Bhardwaj in the washroom of a restaurant in Juhu. I was peeing and saw him. The moment, I was washing my hand and walking out, I complimented him for Satya’s musical score.”
An elated Bhardwaj asked the young man politely, “You recognize me?” Anyone would be on the top of the moon and the film infatuated young man said, “Yes! I do.” He recounts: “Those were the days when Vishal was just a music director and not yet the accomplished filmmaker that we all know today. He walked back to the table with Robin Bhatt and another gentleman I didn’t recognize. As I sat devouring the starters and the conversation slipping from the mind, someone tapped me on the shoulder. Guess what? Vishal Bhardwaj handed me a phone number scribbled on the restaurant receipt’s counterfoil, asking me to call him for a meeting. What else can one ask?”
Nozzer shares, “My relatives asked who he is. I was dazzled and convinced this was it. But, again, what stopped me from reaching out him was the lack of faith in the self and yet destiny kept showering me with opportunities.”
He harked with a philosophical twinge how at that time, the voice of reason came from other people telling him that Bhardwaj was probably drunk and wouldn’t remember him. Don’t they say destiny is a strange thing and years later, the film maker made a serial, Gubbare and the much acclaimed Makdee.
“I called him after Makdee and went to meet him to the office when we crossed each other’s path in the lift. I handed him a letter, telling about the meeting eons ago. But…he moved ahead in life while I was still stuck in time. It took me years in the routine humdrum of life to finally proclaim, I was ready to make films. It struck me that the best way to learn filmmaking was to make one. I have been doing just that.”
Nozzer has to his credit an incredible record of 16 short films, kickstarting with Dabba and the latest offering is IISTOO. He says, “I am no Coppola because am still mastering the art of filmmaking. Every film has been a great learning step, understanding the rules and breaking a few.”
Dabba was the first step in Nozzer’s journey and one can say he hit the ‘marquee’ with IISTOO depicting the typical Parsi household. There are many of us holding an image of the Parsi community as a close-knit family with our own ideas, probably owing it to the picture painted by mainstream Hindi films. The Parsi film-maker belches out, “The film is not at all the ‘Bollywood’ caricature portrayed about the community and in more than one way, the film brings to light several issues faced that we were shying away from.”
He says, “The only issue that we keep lamenting is the fact that we are dwindling but no one really wants to delve on the reasons. I am truly proud of the fact that IISTOO comes close and is a true-to-life account of the Parsi culture and using certain lingo from my childhood days that even my actors were surprised to hear.”
The film is a startup project described by Nozzer Pardiwala as, ‘The Non-Conforming Parsi Filmz’ paid in real time by subscribers, removing the middlemen when it comes to private viewing, bringing closer the maker and audience. The concept, he says, is not easy or smooth. “Today, giants like Netflix has taken the market by storm, offering viewers a slew of content globally and while a host of major players like Amazon, Hotstar are offering subscriptions at dirt price that makes it very difficult to thrive and survive, or for that matter convincing a viewer to watch a short film for 31 minutes,” he affirms.
The filmmaker avers on a reality about getting accustomed to watching free content on You Tube that one cannot imagine something like pay per view exists.
“I experimented with this idea but this Self Publishing has in various ways ruined the literary world of books. In many ways, free viewing was good for You Tube but not for small content makers who actually in sum total make up what You Tube is. The latter is going the Netflix way in conveniently filtering off small content partners like us,” Nozzer rues.
“On a personal level, I feel that as an independent filmmaker either to keep churning film content for a niche audience and taking the products to the audience, like some Indie makers are doing or simply wait for a media giant to acquire the rights.”
The plethora of film content showcased should be encouraged at a time where the entire space is festooned by Web TV. Where does the independent maker go in the scheme of things or make up for the lack of funding? Nozeer reflects, “Funding is a word, I am sure, every indie film maker is intimidated or afraid of. It’s a near-impossible task to secure funding unless you are a name to reckon with and have a couple of filthy rich friends with an acting dream. All my projects are self-funded and still waiting for someone to finance my next venture.”
Film festivals are a good way to get your pet project noticed, he tells, but then again one has to be wary of the fact that not all such fests are genuine but just a money-making racket. One such portal is, ‘filmfreeway.com’ as a good and right place to showcase one’s project’, he says. IISTOO is making waves for being officially selected for screening at the PALENA Film Festival Italy and is taking off at Filmi Toronto’s South Asian Film festival, Filmingo Film Festival and Mami.
In an age besotted by technology and social media, paid viewing comes at the right time as an interesting and attractive value proposal to drive content and giving fillip to young, passionate filmmakers trudging this route. There may be no secret formula to unearth but Nozzer believes that in the near future, a working segment hovering between 50 minutes to 90 minutes screen time may come as a good start.
“This concept may not be the exact fit for a short film but just about a feature length which of course, is not comparable to Bollywood with a running time above 2 hours. Such kind of films would have a particular reach at the niche box office and earn decent money at the ticket counters. We need to honor actors like Manoj Bajpai for their courage and effort to make such model work, albeit Hindi films. In parallel, Akshay Kumar is doing the same in mainstream Hindi cinema. We need more courageous actors like Bajpai to follow this route to ensure the viability of such products. Before this happens, I suppose the short films genre should be used simply to showcase one’s skills to keep learning and growing,” he says.
Cinema is growing in leaps and bounds. There is no doubt that there is enough room for everyone whether it’s mainstream movies and indie films where crunching BO numbers have significantly altered with scope for growth. Of course, there is a new generation increasingly restless what with technology on exclusive forums where less censorship stands to benefit motion pictures, sit-coms and shorties. Nozzer agrees, “It is definitely an exciting phase but purely for the art of filmmaking. Film-makers are experimenting and working wonders on the screen.”
He hints at Rima Das’s Village Rockstars described as ‘truly an Indie film carving a place as an Oscar nomination for India representing today’s times when filmmaking is truly an art form and not a jagir of mainstream production houses.’
Of course, the economics of films is still prevalent with no big banners initially supporting Village Rockstar, he tells the unvarnished truth.
Working a fine balance between art and commerce should be the tipping point. Heralding the first step for an indie filmmaker should be the norm since nobody is waiting with truckload of money to pour into your creation. He urges, “Pick up that camera and start shooting.”
Being a typical Gemini, Nozzer creative head is brimming with ideas with a slew of projects lining up. He announces, “Firstly, the web series based on my blogs KEKI KAKA is vying for my attention and next on my list is the feature Bun Maska at the scripting stage. I may just pick up my camera to shoot another shortie. The ideas are flowing and so let’s see which one hits the screen first.”
Click here to know more about ISSTOO and support Independent film makers by paying a nominal amount to watch the movie in real time.