Insights on ‘My Birthday Song’
Samir Soni is one of the finest actors we have and now he has donned the hat of a director. His first directorial venture, ‘My Birthday Song’ has hit the cinemas. The movie starring Sanjay Suri and Nora Fatehi is a psychological thriller that takes you on a twisted journey.
The film had created quite a curiosity and part of the reason was the director himself. We caught up with Samir Soni and the actors Sanjay Suri and Nora Fatehi to get more insights on the making of the movie. The team of ‘My Birthday Song’ talk about their character, working on a thriller and much more.
How was the transition from an actor to director, did you face any challenges while directing the film?
It was surprisingly smooth, I didn’t expect that. I wrote the story seven years back and it stayed with me and whoever I would tell the story to would insist that I should direct it, right from Karan Joha to Sanjay Suri. But I was busy with my acting assignments then. Finally, I thought this needs to be done now, I had procrastinated enough, so finally, we got down to making the movie. I was apprehensive about how I was going to do it, but then I realised the whole script was in mind, I could clearly see the movie. It took me several years to make the movie. After I started writing the script, I got somebody to assist me with it. It was surprisingly easy, and I loved each moment of making the film.
You yourself are an actor, so how was it directing other actors?
I love actors, I am an actor myself, so I know what they want. A director is there to pretty much inspire people and have a vision. I’ve lived with the vision of my film for seven years, so it came naturally. And I made no issues about the whole thing that I am the director, we were making the film together. I had a vision and we shared the vision anyone who wants to give inputs was welcomed. If I made a mistake, I would just say sorry, first time director and we would carry on with our work. There was no ego clash.
What inspired you to make a thriller as your first directorial venture?
I love thrillers, I love films that provoke you to think. In the sense, I love movies that challenge you to think. Because now you see the audience, a part of them is watching the film and a part of them is trying to guess what is going to happen, they are already predicting. Our audience is too intelligent and smart, and I am no different, even I think like that. But there are not enough films that surprise you. Most of them are predictable, every once in a while something might come up that surprises you, but that is rare. I like films that people discuss, something like a Memento or Inception. Therefore, I like this genre, but nothing much has been done in our Hindi industry. It had nothing to do with whether the movie will do well or not, it is just something that attracts me.
Can you give us some insights into your character, Rajeev Kaul?
Rajeev is a man at 40 who is happily married with two kids. He is an ad filmmaker and as a person he is charming. He is a guy who has a bit of a glad eye. But something triggers over here, he meets this woman, which leads to a series of twisted events. He is not looney or psychological disturbed, but it is something that can happen to anyone. There is a vulnerability to the character although externally he is sorted and tough, but internally there are various subconscious layers which start to emerge. While he is perceived to be a cool guy at the same time he is vulnerable to what is happening to him. If it is internal or external you will figure out in the film.
You have known the director, Samir Soni for a long time, so how was the dynamics between the two of you?
Samir being an actor has never assisted anyone, but to everyone’s pleasant surprise, he was great. There is a fear when an actor is directing that he will show you how to do it. But Samir understands actors very well and that is the positive side of it. He guided us very organically, not once did he had to direct us by using the mike, just from a distance he would say a little up or down. He understands the psyche of an actor well, he will approach an actor very well. He focus on the performances and not digressing from the script.
You are also one of the producers of the film and you have produced various films before, so does it get difficult to balance acting and producing the film at the same time?
It is never smooth, but now it comes smoothly because it is my sixth production. Each film comes with its own challenge because we never have the luxury of a budget. That is the biggest challenge, but otherwise, I think I am pretty organised. Somewhere I can extract that stress of production into my performance. I remember in ‘My Brother Nikhil’, I was very depressed because there was no money and there was a scene where I was suppose to cry. Where those tears came from, I have no idea, if it was from the fact that we had no money or the emotional quotient of the film, I have no idea. But each job comes with its own challenge, but I enjoy balancing them.
Can you share a bit about your character, how does she fit into the story?
I play a character called Sandy who is based out of India. She was born in Delhi, but she moves away and returns when she is older. She meets Rajeev Kaul (Played by Sanjay Suri) at his 40th birthday party. There he is not sure if he knows her from before or have they just met. She is a very independent and mysterious character, she has a slight sensuality about her. She is vulnerable in a very sensual way, so she has that mix of character within her which makes her likeable.
What was your brief regarding your character?
I didn’t really get any official brief. While I auditioned for the role we just read it and tried to understand the scene and what my character is doing. As soon as I got into the film, I realised that this is a different kind of film. It is not really a genre that a lot of filmmakers go for. It is a psychological thriller and I don’t think we have a lot of Hindi films in that genre. That is what got me very interested and I loved being part of this project.
Were there any challenges, if yes, how did you deal with them?
There was nothing really challenging as such. I think when you work with a lot of experienced people they just make it easier for you. Both of them (Samir Soni and Sanjay Suri), are very experienced actors and filmmakers. They created an environment for me which was safe and where I was not being judged. They were quite motivating, and I felt that in that space, I was able to do anything, so I didn’t feel like I was holding myself back as an actor.