The Making Of A Train Romance

Abhishek Bhatnagar is known for Waster (2022), A Passenger in Love and Fat Boy (2018). In this interview he speaks about the memories and romances that happen in travel.

Most Indians have fond memories of railway travel, both long distance and local. What  made you choose this setting?

I have  been brought up  in  Delhi-NCR and we were lucky to get  metro train when  I  was a teenager. As  a kid I was always fascinated to  the question about where all these trains  finally goes? Later in my college days I  had met my childhood love in the metro , which  in a way gave me a second  chance to restart and relive my incomplete first love story again and I tried  my hand though failed  again. I choose the  setting  because while  I  keep growing up I saw the  metro  growing up  to a vast network which covers  5 cities. It is like an entire civilization to  me and so  I  thought to write  a film with  niche detail on how everyday  passengers  seek for love  in an every  day simple metro journey.

How does Passenger in Love define your style of film making - small casts, simple endearing stories, settings with which many can identify…

I think it’s not my style  it’s just a mumblecore  genre of  filmmaking which has been in practice from ages. You take dogma 35 or French new wave or talk about  Indian Parallel Cinema…In every generation some filmmaking  souls around the world want to  tell their stories without any pressure and I think their passion help them find the way. I am more of a storyteller and I enjoy  being naïve on being a real director with pro style and skills.

What was the biggest challenge for  you shooting this film?

I  am  a very quiet person  but for  this film  I had to  accommodate the whole crew from Mumbai  in my  house in  Delhi  because I couldn't afford  a hotel for them…aah I am  kidding…that  was  the  only fun part. I think  money  was the biggest challenge…we survived without  money for   a month on making a film. I  made this film on the Red Bull  budget of a low  budget  bollywood  film…if you can imagine.

Are you a romantic at heart? Often our creative work is a product of all that we value in life and what we cull from our personal reading, experiences, relationships, dreams. How much of this film is reflective of your own tastes?

Offcourse  I am…I am  also  planning to  write two more  parts of passengers later in my 40s and  50s when I will have a  bit  of more  experience on   romance  as compared to  now. I will  shoot those part with same  cast.  I have  already signed the  actors for  it.  It’s  gonna be  like  Before Trilogy.

What do your other films have in common with Passenger in Love?

Air  hostess.

One can study the setting, the dialogues, the costume, but how does one get educated in portraying human emotions?

I  think that’s the gift  a few  of us have.  I am lucky that I’ve it and that is why I feel it is my duty to make art.

How was it collaborating with your actors? What were the fun enjoyable parts?

It  was a beautiful experience to collaborate with them. At first I was  not sure that  they would  be able to learn  all  those lines by  heart.  I remember I  gave them the script and shared  the  phone numbers. I  strictly advised  them to only  read script over audio calls and never  ever  meet until we start the film.  They  were  so sweet, they directly met on  set as strangers and we shot the film.

Video Excerpt of the Interview