We are all made of Stories

Jun 1, 2020 · 7 min read

Notes from hearing Guillermo Del Toro and how it realigned, reminded and rearranged my process

I wrote this to remind me of what I learnt after hearing him in the decade defining We Are One Global Film Festival “In Conversation” beautifully moderated by Kim Morgan, in the Marrakech Film Festival in 2018 which got Premiered on 30 May 2020 Live on Youtube. This talk was available for 7 days after release :


“All art is a Paradox.
Like ice cream — drawn to something that doesn’t exist in nature… the paradox of fat and sweet”

Always feel pressurised to try to find a balance between the opposites. I feel the world finds multiplicity just too complicated to be the hero. But it’s in that complication that unique experiences and perspectives are born. The true essence of that experience lies in the coexistence of the two worlds.

Art is in identifying the paradox and communicating it through story with beauty and grace.

The essence of art is to make peace with the imperfect — in us, in the world…There is a tyranny in our lives about perfection and success… it makes everyone unhappy. Imperfection is liberating! … We should love each other for how fucked up we are — not about how good we are.

How many have been shunned before they could present themselves. The fear of imperfection stops me from getting started. Strangely though it was not a concern in my mind at all, when I was pregnant with my child. There was not even a fleeting thought about its perfection or the lack of it. Just pure miracle of a life coming into the world. Maybe I could approach my creative work I with less burden now?

Ah! Perfection! My Nemesis! The one who kills the baby just as it is conceived.

About the Syntax of Film

Staging…is a dance between the actor and the camera.

There are melodic elements in film which are movement and rhythmic which is editing. So the Percussion is the editing and the Melody is the Camera and the actor.

It’s the dance of the measurable and the infinite. The framework and the painting within. The structure and the flow. The Duality and everything in between coming together to create an experience that is deeper almost spiritual.

About the Act of Seeing and Perception

The eyes are the most intimate part of the human body. …It is the most naked part of the human body…. And film is made of eyes….

In our own craft, all we have to offer to an audience, is our own gaze — we look at the world unlike anybody else…. The Roshomon of it all — we can all witness the same act and we will witness a completely different act depending on whom you do….

The act of seeing, is such an intimate and powerful act, that thats all you can offer — your eyes — to the audience….this is what i have to offer…thats why we are here — to provoke that empathy if we can.

Why would anyone want to see the world through my eyes?

This reminds me of my all time favourite story told to me by my Grandma when I was about six or seven years old. The parable of the Five Blind Men and the Elephant Read a version of it here

This story has been instrumental to the worldview I have. The fact that there are times when one cannot comprehend the wholistic picture and needs to be open to other points of view — and it is beautiful to have different points of view thats what makes us unique and creates our individual world view.

Creating films is the process of sharing that world view.

About Stories

We are spiritual creatures we would be fools to negate that sign of our existence….
...We are made of stories.
We are the only animals that is made up of stories.
What we tell ourselves we are everyday is what we become.
When we tell the world what the world can be — the world also changes

This not only impacting the way I look at the work I am currently trying to create but also the conversation I have with myself everyday. It has not been a kind conversation — I am my harshest critic and have been struggling to emerge from that abuse (but thats for another article)

This gives me confidence to proceed in the creation of that I had frozen through harsh self analysis.

About Fairy Tales

We tend to say, as a culture that Fairytales are for kids. ….this could not be further from the truth… it is a direct link from ourselves and our subconscious

Fairytales speak of a much deeper powerful reality.

The earliest choice for any religion in the world was parable, because the parable makes everything we read about acceptable — palatable.

Still mulling over this — about fairytales and myths and legends and abstractions.

About Nation states

Most everything that we agree upon is False….. Every distinction that separates us is false…. If you see from space — there is no lines between Italy, France, Switzerland, … its just a crusty piece of earth floating in the ocean — but we agree on that line. These are stupid things we tell each other…

We Are One — I guess that says it all.

About his genre of films

All my movies are strange — I go and find things that shouldn’t exist and make them…..

I guess it’s absolutely ok to be strange.

About career

What is career to a reader is a biography to the maker. And failure is such a crucial component to the artistic endeavour. Failure is the fuel and success is the breaks. You need to crave failure and learn from it — it hurts as hell! … Cherish Failure

A career is a crash crash in slow motion. You are looking from the outside…. pftthdk!! did someone die?!
Baam! — 3 years I hit my head.
2 years more — I hit the driving wheel
1 year and a half — the airbag deploys and I don’t die. Miraculously after three or four movies. And you are outside looking at this —and say he did this and he did that —excuse me but in between there were 4 fucking horrible years!

In Instagram everyone has a great fucking life!
Let me tell you the long instagram about my life — maybe in your moments of pain it will give you a little solace...

Always Remember this.
Chunk at it — little bit at a time and believe that it is making a dent.

About colour

Red is the most voracious colour in the spectrum — it eats everything — it eats all the details — the only this that is harder than red is white.

I rarely use a whole lot of red in my work — both red and white are always slivers. Often their closest cousin rather than directly head on. But this piece I am working on has a whole lot of red parts burning through my mind — will update on this when it gets visual.

About wardrobe

Wardrobe is a dialogue between you and the world.

Through this lockdown — It has been the dialogue also with myself. The act of getting dressed to meet someone — namely myself creates a beautiful sense of purpose and normalcy. Mind and matter are intertwined and help protect each other.

About Gender

We need to bring both to the table — the best we can do and the worst we can do and then we can have dinner.

In Indian Classical dance, the concept of the Ardhanariswara talks about the formation of the whole. Wikipedia does a terrible job of trying to explain the concept here . It’s never a battle of the sexes, its all part of the whole cosmic function spiritually and symbiotically.

For me it is not two halves at all. It is symbolic of the cosmic balance the sense of balance in chaos where love happens, life happens — and it is magic!

And Finally

Hitchcock said “In order to be universal you need to be specific”
JUST DO WHAT YOU WANT TO DO — some will come and some wont. Fuck it!

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