Kartik Singh is a screenwriter and director living in the 15th. Of Indian heritage, he was raised in the US and moved to Paris in 1996 to study film and never left. He received a post-graduate diploma from the Sorbonne for his first film, and his subsequent work has been broadcast on Arte and Canal Plus.
1. What initially inspired you to move to Paris?
I took French from 6th to 12th grade, and it gave me an initial taste for the culture. Since then, learning French has been a passion for me. Coming here, I have been able to experience the pleasure of speaking this beautiful language on a daily basis. I also love having access to so much art and culture. My first contact with Paris was like a communion with European cinema – so much deeper and more meaningful than the Spielberg-driven 1980’s I grew up with.
2. Earliest Paris memory?
My very first night in Paris, I had just arrived on a train from Amsterdam into Gare du Nord. I took a cab to the youth hostel where I was staying in the 13th, and Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” came on the radio and I asked the driver to crank it. We crossed the Seine and I got to see the beauty and the potential of Paris by night. Magical.
3. Best neighbourhood you’ve ever lived in?
Le Marais – always bustling, central, and on a day like Sunday, it’s buzzing with activity when other neighborhoods are dead.
4. What’s the best meal you’ve eaten in Paris?
Charlie’s at Daumesnil. Breathtaking and unlikely view of Paris. Great French meal, great wines, great company.
5. Sexiest moment you’ve had in Paris?
Well, being with a French woman for the first time qualifies for sure. I’ll just leave it at that.
6. What do you hate most about living in Paris?
There is a kind of Parsian who is totally blasé, completely underwhelmed by everything going on around them; who complains, is never happy and is shrouded in pessimism and negativity. Coming into contact with this type of person is my least favorite thing in Paris.
7. Who’s your favourite Parisian — be they living or dead, real or fictional?
Terrence Malick. I would like to think his two decades in Paris between Days of Heaven and Thin Red Line had something to do with making him an even greater filmmaker.
8. Favourite cinema?
The Filmothèque in the Latin Quarter, on rue Champollion.
9. Right bank or left bank? And why?
Left. St. Germain des Pres, Jardin de Luxemboug, Rue Cler, La Butte aux Cailles …
10. Favourite Caviste?
My guy on rue Paul Barruel who lets me taste everything – it’s always happy hour at his place!
11. Where do you go to escape the city?
12. Where are the best looking girls or boys in Paris and why?
Les Halles-Montorgeuil. It’s a kind of crossroads of folks from different economic means, it’s young, it’s hip, it’s got really cool cafés and bars that are always full.
13. Where do you get your news?
I don’t. I’m on a low information diet, which may explain my optimistic disposition. If something’s up or in the air, I’ll ask people about it in a café. When I’m interested in a subject, I like to read about it in a book after the fact, when deeper analysis weighs in. I love not following news. I love living in my own world.
14. Favourite museum?
Musée Rodin. Love the garden.
15. Favourite shop?
Papeterie Graphi Dessin. It’s a stationary store on rue de Vaugirard in the 15th. They have everything I need in the way of pens and notebooks – since I do a lot of writing by hand, it’s a fun place to get new stuff. They stock these handmade notebooks from Italy called Mazzoli that are my favorite.
16. Who’s the most stylish Paris personality?
Sometimes I wonder if this man is even real or I just imagined him: I believe he’s an artist; he’s very striking; his dark Indian complexion is contrasted by short silver hair cut and a salt and pepper beard. And he only wears the color white — always the coolest stuff: oxfords, dungarees, trench coats, raincoats, blazers, vests: all white. With his trim build, everything looks good on him. I have been seeing him around for as long as I’ve been here. But I’ve never had the nerve to talk to him. Afraid he might not live up to the person I imagine him to be.
17. What is your favourite film that is set in Paris?
18. What about Paris most inspires you?
It’s a crossroads of culture. People from everywhere are coming and going. That gives it a palpable energy.
19. What makes someone a Parisian?
To come and spend time here and know this place has meaning for you – that makes you a Parisian.
20. What’s your favourite French word? (Swear words allowed!)
Merde. Have loved it since I learned it in junior high. It’s got that ‘r’ in it that took me a long time to get.