Meditation in the
Art of Filmmaking

In conversation with Kunal Deshmukh

Having embarked on his Bollywood filmmaking career with two films, 30-year-old Kunal Deshmukh says his struggle is common to most.

In a chat with Divya Sachdev, Kunal shares how meditation helps him plan, visualize and tap into his creative energies. Meditation also eases his struggle and strengthens him. We hope it does the same to you.

Q. You believe a lot in the practice of meditation; could you share your views on this ancient practice and its benefits?

Kunal Deshmukh: I went to an Arya Samaj school. We studied the Sandhya Agnihotra, the Gayatri Mantra and various other prayers. Arya Samaj also focuses on Dharma Shiksha and yoga as regular weekly classes. Reciting these prayers, yoga and meditation became a habit over the years. Besides, my mom is an Art of Living teacher and I have done the Part 1 Course. So, after college I continued with it. It is a great way of structuring yourself. It sharpens your focus; it’s a good way to introspect. As I am in the film line, I visualize, focus and think of my day, the shots I plan to take, the problems I might face, and most importantly, the solution I am seeking. Meditation just helps me center myself on how to plan ahead and conduct myself at work, etc.

Q. Your movie Jannat has been a huge success. Being a filmmaker certainly requires some thought process and understanding each role play and character. So how do you think meditation can help you in this?

Kunal Deshmukh: I would say that when you actually sit down to meditate, it creates a little thought bubble, whereby I can slowly drown out all the noise around and then focus on the topic I am working on - I don’t know whether I am right or wrong but meditation helps me that way.
I am deeply focused on the movie characters or color palette and through that kind of a reflective meditation, I tend to get the answers.

Q. Can you relate any particular instance where you meditated and it helped you?

Kunal Deshmukh: When you are in a high-stress job, you can use the breathing technique or meditate. Another technique (which they teach in the Part 1 Course) is to close your eyes and put your attention on the space 1 foot next to you, 5 feet next to you, and so on (aura meditation). When you wake up, you feel so much more relaxed, so fresh. It basically helps you calm down and revives you.

Q. Today meditation is becoming more popular in the film industry. Many film stars and fashion models include meditation in their daily schedule. Your thoughts?

Kunal Deshmukh: Well, it would be hard for me to put a number on how many do it, but it works for me. The kind of pressure I face in this profession, meditation definitely helps you get answers to something or helps you calm down; it’s almost like a power break that you might need to recharge yourself. I am glad that meditation is catching the eye of the film line. It’s a line where your sleep routine and eating habits are very irregular. Meditation helps balance out these imbalances to a great deal. The discipline that meditation brings can really help any professional from a creative line.

Q: How often do you meditate, Kunal?

Kunal Deshmukh: When I feel like, I meditate, there is no particular time. Usually the early morning, but it is not a fixed routine to sit and meditate. There have been times when I have not been regular. It is like when something is bothering me and I know I have to get the answer, it’s time to meditate.

Q: How do you plan to contribute to the world in terms of meditation through your movies? Do you plan to give a spiritual aspect to any of your scripts?

Kunal Deshmukh: Actually, this is a very hard, complicated question. Whether I would like to make a film on the subject, give a particular new view on spirituality or whether I would want to share something in that realm of spirituality through my cinema is an exciting thought. But making a film on spirituality is the hardest thing in Bollywood. At the moment, I have not hit up on the concept of spirituality. So right now I’d rather not. But I would like to add that if you are a spiritual person, it rubs off on your work. Whatever subject you could be working on, it could be a song, a scene, a dialogue. your thoughts do get reflected in the work you do. One could be making the most ‘masala film’ but it could still have something spiritual about it.

Q: With what message would you inspire your fans out there to meditate?

Kunal Deshmukh: I would say, meditation sharpens your mind, makes you stronger. I don’t want to sound preachy for the youth, but you have to go out, try and give it a shot. Youth are quite skeptical about this whole meditation thing. They have a closed mind. I would say to the youth to try it with an open mind and the result could be magical.

The greatest learning or growth that I have felt has never been in a class room or in the field. It has always been in the quiet, when I have been all alone. The ability to reflect, search and probe helps the mind evolve, this can only be possible if you meditate in some form.