Mumbai: Sudhanshu Saria, best known for his same-sex romance Loev”, is back with another unconventional story in Knock Knock Knock but the director says he was merely following his heart rather than being a rebel by design.

From its authentic casting in Bengali theatre veteran Shantilal Mukherjee and first-time Nepali actor Phuden Sherpa to its run time of 40-minutes, Saria admits that his English language short does not follow the rules of genre or length.

“I was hundred per cent certain it’s lunacy while writing it. The length is lunatic, the actors we cast, the way we made it Even the festivals, they understand a short film or a feature. This is almost like a novella,” Saria told PTI in an interview.

The director, however, is grateful that many festivals created separate sections to accommodate the film, which had its world premiere at the 2019 Busan International Film Festival and won the best screenplay award at the 20th New York Indian Film Festival (NYIFF) recently.

The Darjeeling-set psychological thriller explores the lonely life of a man who forms an unlikely friendship that may or may not be real. It is currently streaming on MUBI India.

Saria said he began writing “Knock Knock Knock” after he was fired from a job.

“I knew no one’s going to make it but the idea was to write for fun. I wrote it and got obsessed with it.”

The filmmaker spent most of 2018 writing it, with as many as 45-50 draft.

Saria said the film makes a case for retaining one’s uniqueness.

“It is about remaining whatever, whoever you want to be. Not letting the world homogenise you, not bending to its rythm. It’s also about not letting bad experiences make you so cynical that you’re never able to make a best friend again,” he said.

The friendship between the film’s two leads, Dada and Keta, could’ve been of any other characters but what raises the stake, is that both carry the baggage of their past.

“When you give the friendship arc to these two characters who are already insecure from having been hurt by the world that doesn’t understand them, then the stakes are higher.”

Saria said the origin of both the characters can be traced back to him. While the former is a warning of who he could turn into, the latter is a reminder of who he once was.

“I feel like Dada is me in the future, probably my father, who is cynical, scared and afraid of being vulnerable. Dada is most of our fathers, anyone of that generation. They become wiser with their failures.

Keta is me when I used to wear my heart on my sleeves and be much more vulnerable. I wish I could always stay like him.”

“Knock Knock Knock”, Saria said, furthers his drive to chronicle stories that are not dictated by length or commerce.

Post the success of “Loev”, many advised him to go big with his next project but Saria said they were the same people who told him to avoid making his debut with the same-sex love story.

“They told me it’s a career suicide. I’ll get slotted and will never be able to even sell the film. I didn’t disagree with them. I told them it’s totally an idiotic idea and yet I keep moving forward. It’s the most counterintuitive thing. If I failed, I’d be the first person to say ‘yeah, this was bound to happen.'”

Saria said he is not judgmental about the kind of movies he wants to make in future.

“Every time I see a film, I feel I could have done my version of that. But then there’s the stuff that wants to come out of you. I want to make my big musical, heist film, my ‘Mr India’. I am open to everything. I am not judgmental.”

Saria is conscious about is making commercial films with passion and sincerity.

“To me there’s as much art in Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s ‘Golmaal’, Rajkumar Santoshi’s ‘Andaaz Apna Apna’, Shekhar Kapur’s ‘Mr India’ or in Yash Chopra’s ‘Chandni’.

“These are all commercial, beautiful films which were artful. I want to make films with passion and honesty. I don’t think want to calculate, that if I do this, I’ll get that. There are easier ways to make money, this isn’t it,” he added. (PTI)