We get the nitty gritty on Brahman Naman with Director Q
Trying to get inside the mind of a boy is one of the skills that girls, global wide aim to master. Why are they so weird? What makes them do certain things, say certain things, be a certain way? Brahman Naman is a film that has cracked that very code, finally unleashing all the eccentricities that characterise the boy species, while letting us into the quirky world of what it was like being a teenage, and growing up in Bangalore in the 1980s. Packed with LOLs, outright grossness and ‘did that really just happen’ moments, Brahman Naman is indie Indian film at its most creative: not surprising when you have filmmaker Q, keeping the Director’s chair warm.
Braham Naman is a coming-of-age film, or should that be cumming-of-age film?
Well there haven’t been too many films in India about boys growing up, so you could say it’s part of that genre…but it’s not what you’d expect. What you see these boys go through is boarding on the ridiculous, rather than the real. Some of it will be completely new, but the jerk off jokes in the film; they’re universal.
Let’s talk about sex. There are scenes that involve a fridge, ceiling fan, fish tank…not the most conventional of methods…
I was totally amazed by it! I wouldn’t do any of it, but than I’m not Naman! Naman is a virgin and the fact that he and his friends can’t get girls is what makes them who they are. I had friends in similar situations but it wasn’t a problem I ever faced. I was in the music scene and in that scene you can get whatever you want, but I could totally sympathise with them. From their point of view they would do anything to get satisfied, that was the extent of their frustration.
So that explains why they randomly dry-hump each other…
Exactly! One of the things that happens in life and happened to Naman is that in life friends do drift off. Throughout your life you will connect with different people. What’s interesting about Naman and his friends is that actually they don’t really have many of the same interests, as people they are very different. At this particular time in their life what brings them together is girls and the fact they can’t get any. It’s in that context that you’ll find them hanging out, sitting on a bench together, dry-humping each other, they have a physical relationship, that’s what bonds them…or rather lack of any physical relationship.
So this sex-obsessed Naman, he’s not a figment of someone’s imagination, this film is based on true accounts. What was it like working on an autobiographical piece?
I’ve known Naman for a long time and when we agreed to do the film it was important that he was a part of every stage. Naman was there for the workshopping and throughout the production and what was great was that he was just there, being Naman. He was always inspiring the boys and taking them that one step further.
It’s a low budget film, so how did Dire Straits and Rod Stewart end up on the soundtrack, is that where you spent all the money?
No! We didn’t spend any money. The Producer of the film Steve Barron knows all the musicians, he’s made a lot of music videos and convinced me he’d be able to get the music. When he and Naman were persuading me to direct the film they told me it would be this really cool film from Bangalore which has Dire Straits and Rod Stewart on the soundtrack, I couldn’t say no. They ended up watching cuts of the film and couldn’t stop laughing, they were like ‘yeah man you can use our music!’
Talk about having contacts. Next up, let’s talk about the other Q word: quizzes, a central theme of the film.
Quiz culture came to India because of the British, they’re the ones that started it. We don’t have that quiz culture so much any more but back in the 1980s every single school and college had students who were quiz nerds. They would read every book in the library and work really hard to become members of the quiz team. You’d also get teachers who were really good at quizzes who’d set up quiz clubs. There would be national championships, in fact Calcutta where I’m from always used to end up beating Naman’s team from Bangalore. Those who were in the quiz team were treated like royalty, they were the college stars.
The film has created a festival buzz but the best place to catch it is on Netflix. Interesting move…
Although I’m a Director, I have a very unique view about watching films as a public activity in a cinema. Film watching is seen as a community practice – the film community make it and audience community watch it together, but to me that’s a concept that died in the '90s. I have no presumptions that the films I make will be shown on the big screen. I prefer to watch films on my laptop. You should be able to watch film where you want, like in the bathroom – enjoy watching it yourself. Invest in film as a personal exercise, like reading a book.
Well it certainly makes watching Brahman Naman a whole lot easier…question though, why should we watch it?
I have an answer for both genders: boys, you’ll learn something and girls; your question ‘why are men like that?’ will finally be answered.
Braham Naman is released on Netflix globally on July 7th 2016.