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Jeff Goldberg’s Insights into Indian and Western Cinema

Jeff Goldberg emerges as a radiant figure in the realms of acting, screenwriting, and directing, casting a luminous glow over a career that spans over two decades in cinema. As the Co-Founder and esteemed Faculty at the Jeff Goldberg Studio, his influence radiates across continents, leaving an indelible mark on the global stage. His expertise has graced esteemed institutions like the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute in New York City, as well as the prestigious School of Visual Arts.

Embarking on his journey in 2006, Jeff Goldberg set sail for Mumbai, where he joined forces with acclaimed Indian-French filmmaker Pan Nalin to weave a screenplay inspired by Saadat Hasan Manto’s poignant narrative, “Toba Tek Singh.” This collaboration garnered acclaim as the Best Project at the PPP of the Busan International Film Festival, marking the inception of Jeff’s artistic odyssey, which has since meandered through the bustling streets of Mumbai, the vibrant avenues of New York, and the romantic boulevards of Paris.

From his enthralling performance in the award-winning animated feature “Do The Good” to his directorial triumphs such as “Wisdom,” Jeff’s versatility transcends boundaries. His cinematic endeavors reach across borders, as evidenced by the premiere of his debut feature “Solomon Enev” at the esteemed St. Petersburg International Film Festival. Moreover, his screenplay “Aleksander Rouge” clinched the coveted Best Screenplay award at the ECU, European Independent Film Festival.

Jeff’s talents extend beyond geographical confines, as showcased by his captivating presence on France’s esteemed national television channel and his memorable roles in international cinema. With each endeavor, Jeff Goldberg continues to enrich the cinematic landscape with his unparalleled artistry and unbridled passion. His repertoire boasts a diverse array of film credits, ranging from the acclaimed “Angry Indian Goddesses” (2015) and “Hawaizaada” (2015) to recent hits like “Pathaan” (2023) and “Sam Bahadur” (2023).

In a riveting dialogue with The Interview World, Jeff Goldberg delves into his experiences during his sojourn in India, elucidating the nuances between Indian and Western filmmaking, the fusion of technology in the cinematic sphere, and the burgeoning influence of OTT platforms. He also offers insights into his ongoing and forthcoming projects, unveiling the intricacies of his creative process and his enduring commitment to pushing the boundaries of storytelling. Below, we unravel the key highlights from his illuminating conversation.

Q: What are your impressions of your experience during your stay in India?

A: Over the past decade and a half, I’ve been fortunate to call India my home, alternating between periods of residency here. My journey has been one of immersion in diverse professional spheres, spanning education, cinematic storytelling, and the art of performance. Each role has woven its thread into the fabric of my experience, enriching it beyond measure.

In this tapestry of time, India has undergone a profound metamorphosis, retaining its core while embracing a new essence. This evolution has unfurled a panorama of possibilities, particularly for the seekers of knowledge and the purveyors of wisdom. Within the realm of cinema, my craft has flourished amidst a landscape of constant innovation and expansion. These fifteen years have been a captivating odyssey of growth and discovery.

Furthermore, India is a cultural kaleidoscope, a boundless reservoir of insights and adventures waiting to be uncovered. Its allure is magnetic, drawing one into its vibrant mosaic of traditions, languages, and customs. It is a realm of perpetual fascination, offering a cornucopia of opportunities for those who dare to explore its depths.

Q: What are the key distinctions between the filmmaking processes and practices in India versus the Western world?

A: In the realm of artistic creation, filmmaking embodies a distinct dialect, a language all its own. It emerges from the depths of culture, a reflection of the collective consciousness and spirit of a people. Within the tapestry of Indian culture, intricacies abound, woven into the very fabric of familial bonds, communal ties, and spiritual beliefs. From the ancient epics to the contemporary narratives, each thread bears the weight of tradition, carrying with it the aspirations and heritage of generations past.

In the theater of expression, the works of luminaries such as Kalidas and Tagore stand as monuments to the enduring legacy of Indian storytelling. Yet, the panorama of Indian cinema extends far beyond these hallowed halls, encompassing a multitude of regional languages and dialects – Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, Bengali – each offering a distinct prism through which to view the human experience.

At its core, Indian cinema is a testament to the collective imagination, a reflection of the diverse tapestry of hopes and dreams that shape society. It serves as a vessel for cultural transmission, bridging the chasm between past and present, tradition and modernity. Indeed, within its celluloid frames, one finds a mirror to the soul of a nation, a symphony of voices echoing across time and space.

Yet, even as Indian cinema celebrates its unique identity, it remains part of a broader global conversation. The language of cinema knows no boundaries, transcending borders and uniting filmmakers from every corner of the globe. In this interconnected world, the fusion of local traditions with global sensibilities yields a tapestry of unparalleled richness and diversity.

As a participant in this grand narrative, I am humbled by the opportunity to contribute to this ever-evolving dialogue. In the intersection of tradition and innovation, of the local and the universal, lies the true beauty of Indian cinema – a reflection of our shared humanity, boundless in its creativity, and enduring in its resonance.

Q: What impact does the utilization of technology have on the evolution and experience of Indian and Western cinema?

A: Today, in the realm of artistic creation, the geographical disparities seem to dissolve into insignificance. In India, we find ourselves equipped with the same arsenal of tools: cameras that capture the soul of moments, lights that dance with shadows, editing software that weaves narratives, and computers that serve as portals to boundless creativity. Despite differing budgets, the essence remains unchanged.

When we indulge in cinematic marvels like those birthed by Marvel or DC, or any grand Hollywood spectacle, the lavish expenditure on visual effects and special effects astounds. Yet, in India, where budgets may wear a humbler guise, the wellspring of artistry remains undiminished. Quality may vary, yes, but the heartbeat of creativity pulses with fervor.

Technicians, with their skill and finesse, stand as exemplars of artistry, their prowess rivaling any across the globe. It is not mere happenstance that many VFX and post-production sanctuaries that breathe life into Hollywood blockbusters reside within our borders.

In this tapestry of creation, India stands as a beacon of capacity and technological savoir-faire, proving that the soul of art knows no bounds.

Q: What are the significant impacts of the emergence of OTT platforms on the film industry?

A: A profound transformation has swept through our industry, an upheaval orchestrated by the omnipotent hand of Over-The-Top (OTT) platforms. Their emergence marks a seismic shift in the very essence of filmmaking. No longer are films merely conceived; they are crafted with the knowledge that they must navigate the labyrinth of OTT consumption. These platforms have not only redefined the narrative landscape but have also reshaped the intricate fabric of business models, altering the trajectory of revenues and ushering us into uncharted territories.

Over the span of the past half-decade, and indeed, even amid the tumult of the pandemic, we have borne witness to a metamorphosis in the financing, production, and execution of films. A resurgence towards the sanctity of the silver screen has been palpable, with Pathaan’s release in early January 2023 marking a pivotal moment in this reawakening. The resumption of box office vitality has become evident, breathing new life into the cinematic experience. Films such as Pathaan, Sam Bahadur, Animal, and Tiger 3 stand as beacons of hope, promising substantial returns in the realm of box office success.

What emerges is a symbiotic relationship between OTT platforms and traditional cinema. A harmonious coexistence is envisioned, where both entities complement each other, forging a synergistic reality that transcends the confines of either medium.

Q: What are the current projects you are working on here?

A: In the vast tapestry of my career, I’ve been fortunate to embark on diverse endeavors, each offering its own unique canvas for artistic expression. Among these, a recent highlight was my portrayal of Henry Kissinger in the compelling saga of Sam Bahadur, a role that stirred both intrigue and reverence as I stepped into the shoes of the esteemed Secretary of State of the United States. Yet, with the passing of the venerable Kissinger, a chapter has closed, leaving behind a legacy of diplomatic prowess.

Equally compelling was my involvement in Pathaan, where I assumed the mantle of the Russian general Anton, intersecting paths with Shahrukh Khan’s titular character as he navigated the labyrinthine corridors of a Russian prison. Each role, a brushstroke upon the canvas of storytelling, imbued with its own nuances and complexities, offered a captivating journey of exploration and discovery.

Presently, I find myself engaged in the realm of creation once more, weaving narratives and crafting worlds as I collaborate on a project with a distinguished London-based producer. The prospect of bringing this English-language film to life in partnership with an Indian ensemble fills me with anticipation and fervor. As the wheels of production set in motion, the veil of secrecy shrouds my other endeavors, a silent tribute to the superstitions that often accompany the creative process. Yet, rest assured, there are whispers of forthcoming ventures, tantalizing glimpses of stories yet untold, waiting to unfurl their mysteries upon the world’s stage.

The Settings of a Mentoring Session on Cinema at Jeff Goldberg Studio
The Settings of a Mentoring Session at Jeff Goldberg Studio
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