Director Mozez Singh is a happy man right now. His show, Human, has been earning plaudits and has received some strong word-of-mouth promotion. Mozez Singh comes from a legacy pharmaceutical family – his grandfather was the founder and chairman of Ranbaxy – Human focuses on everything that is wrong with the medical fraternity and the heinous drug trials that often take place…and are hushed up. “Ishani (Banerjee) and I, my co-writer, spent a lot of time in Bhopal, Indore, and Madhya Pradesh. We went and met so many victims, activists, and NGO people. Vipul Shah, who is also the co-director, thought of doing something on human drug trials called me into his office in February 2019 and he gave me a film script to read. He wanted me to direct and I read the script and the script didn’t work for me but what worked for me was the whole human drug trial thing and the fact that it was talking about big pharma. I went back to him and I said that I don’t want to do this script but I want to do something else around the world of human drug trials. And then I went back and kind of conceptualised and started to imagine this whole world which is now the show Human, and I wanted to be able to tell an LGBTQ story inside that. Then I called up Ishani and told her that I want her to do this with me and she loved it and that’s how it started but the whole thing of doing something on pharma was something which was actually really personal to me and I didn’t want to make it like – you just said – I didn’t want to gloss over it at all,” he says in an exclusive conversation with Filmfare.
The LGBTQ story that Mozez brought to Human is a part of the show but it isn’t the be-all and end-all of it. He has, in a way, normalised it and hasn’t capitalised on this ‘angle’ for clicks and views. The director says that this was a conscious decision. “Everyone makes such a brouhaha about the whole LGBTQ thing, right? And I think the only way for the LGBTQ conversation to find equality in the world is if we don’t make such a big deal about it because it’s not a big deal – some people are born straight and some people are born gay, or lesbian or transgender or fluid or whatever it is. It’s such a private matter, it is what you do in the privacy of your bedroom, it is who you fall in love with…these are all very private things, right? I just wanted to be able to tell a story that had an LGBTQ angle and tell it in a very normal way. So my whole intention as a filmmaker and as a gay man is to be able to normalise the LGBTQ conversation because only when it becomes a normal conversation, will it find equal footing in the world with everything else,” he says.
Mozez is also full of praise for Shefali Shah, his lead actress. “Shefali just brought her A-game to the table. I mean My God! If we think we wrote something powerful, where she took it, it was just another level. Sometimes, I would be doing takes with her, and Vipul Sir would be doing his takes, so then we would just like sit there in complete silence and watch what she was doing in front of the camera…it was unbelievable and it’s crazy because she’s completely switched on and switched off. I mean you say ‘cut’ and she’s cracking a joke and she’s like ‘okay, I am going back. Even though she is so immersed in the character, she knows exactly how to step out of it. She is like a consummate actor, she’s a consummate wife, she’s a consummate mom. I have seen her play all those roles now because we’ve been working together closely for almost two and a half years, right? And she’s all there and she’s very involved in every part of her. But delivering in front of the camera is another level, really,” he says.
There’s been a lot of talk recently about how female characters are getting bigger and bolder and better because women directors are getting the chance to tell stories. Does Mozez think that more people from the LGBTQ community should be allowed to tell the stories so we get better queer characters?
“I mean I want that to happen, I really want that to happen because the thing is that first and foremost, there are so many LGBTQ people in the film industry. The majority of them choose not to talk about it, I am not going to be living my life like that at all because I mean the thing is I am really proud of who I am, whether I was gay, straight, whatever – it is not relevant and I am really proud of myself as a human being. It would be amazing if more people came out and more people told their stories, and more people told their personal stories and the more people talk about it and the more there is discussion and dialogue, the more normal the conversation becomes. The more it is treated as something which is like ‘oh! okay, whatever, let’s not talk about it’ or people feel squeamish or uncomfortable talking about themselves, the more it will remain that way. It has to come from us. It has to come from us, no one else is going to be the flag bearer for us, we have to be our own flag bearers. So I really hope it happens. I really really hope it happens,” he says.
Before he signs off, he leaves a parting gift for all the fans of Human – Season 2 is on its way. “We have started our discussions for Human Season 2. I know everyone is wondering how because everybody kind of dies (laughs), right? We have a very interesting take on how we are going to bring Season 2 into realisation and I will tell you about that once things are more solid and locked. But yes, Season 2 will happen. That’s all I have to say,” he asserts.