We all have something that makes us feel alive – a passionate pursuit that adds a little extra meaning to life. You can do anything as long as you have the passion.
Indeed. Born in Fakirganj, standing on the south bank of the Brahmaputra in Dhubri district of Assam, filmmaker Xahid Khan has come a long way. From stealing eggs to watch films to receiving awards for his film – the journey has been a roller coaster ride for this young filmmaker.
Xahid, who once rejected a job offer at Shah Rukh Khan’s Red Chillies Entertainment, recently won an award for his film Mistake at the Emirates Short Film Festival in Dubai. The film Mistake won the second best regional film award at the festival, which saw participation from films across the globe.
His debut short film Alert-Condition: Red, which has highlighted the issue of menstruation, received accolades and awards in 2016 in International Guwahati Film Festival, Best Director Award and Best film in Suri International Short Film Festival 2018, Best Film in Emirates Short Film Festival in 2019.
Alert Condition: Red is a film about a girl, who gets her first period in a public place, while Mistake tells the story of a girl, who one day sends a message to her father instead of her boyfriend by mistake. Both his films were selected for the coveted Dadasaheb Phalke International Film Festival.
In a chit-chat with TIME8, Xahid bares his heart out on filmmaking, rejections, stealing eggs, Assam and many more. Read on…
- At a time when young directors are dying to work with Shah Rukh Khan’s Red Chillies Entertainment, you rejected the offer…
Xahid: (Smiles) It was a decision…I didn’t give a second thought after I said no (to the job offer). I was clear from the beginning that I want to be a storyteller of my own stories. Of course, the path after that was no easy but it was worth it. There were also moments when I felt, specially when I started working on my first film, it would have been good had I taken up the offer of Red Chillies.
- What attracts you about filmmaking?
Xahid: Everything. For me, cinema is like a light in the darkness. I was clueless about my life after college. The only thing I was sure was of my love for cinema. I used to steal eggs from home to watch in a small cinema hall at my place. When I started…I wanted to be an actor but I soon realised that I want to tell stories. I started to research and discovered filmmaking as my true calling.
- Your first film revolves around a topic which is still a taboo in India, menstruation…
Xahid: I want to raise my voice through film against everything which I believe is wrong. If you look around, women are the victims all around. As a son, brother, I don’t want women to suffer. I want them to walk, choose and speak freely without any fears and worries like the men do. I am happy that the number of women filmmakers are increasing in the country including Assam.
- How did you tell your family…was it hard to convince your parents?
Xahid: I come from a middle-class family. My father teaches in a lower primary school and practices homoeopathy in his free time and my mother is a homemaker. My father wanted me to be a doctor and my elder brother wanted me to pursue CA or CS. My dreams, passions were different. Every night, I used to try convincing my father at the dinner table. My family had no links with the entertainment business. They were realistic, reasonable.
Finally, my mother supported me. She trusted my vision, dreams. When I started making films, my father came around. In the beginning, it was difficult to find financier or location for the film. But slowly, everything fell into place.
- Your favourite filmmakers
Xahid: I love Woody Allen, James Cameron, Anurag Kashyap, Christopher Nolan, Sanjay Leela Bhnasali, Francis Ford Coppola and David Fincher.
- Your upcoming projects
Xahid: I am working on a short fiction titled ARK based on Karma. The shooting will soon begin. I have four documentaries and one feature film in the pipeline.