First time director-producer Suryaveer Singh Bhullar of Tamanchey talks to Pandolin about the hard work that went into making his debut feature film, starring Richa Chadda and Nikhil Dwivedi.

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Please tell us about your journey into filmmaking.

I am basically a Punjabi, Sardar, born in Bombay and lived all my life in Ahmedabad. I have a business set-up and retail stores in Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar.

But I always wanted to make films and shifted base to Mumbai in 2006 with that intention. At the same time, I didn’t want to be a typical producer who just put in the money. So I studied and understood various aspects of filmmaking, from direction to cinematography to screenwriting. In that sense it was a well-planned move. I am an avid film watcher and have an extremely wide collection of DVDs, ranging from Bollywood to world cinema. My film education comes from watching films and various directors on how to tell a story.

How did the idea of Tamanchey germinate?

Actually, Nikhil (Dwivedi) and I go back a long way. He came to me with the script of Tamanchey and I loved the way the characters were written (by Shailesh Pratap Singh), the humour, dialogues and overall treatment. I found it typical Bollywood but saw the scope of doing it differently by getting the right people on board. My first reaction after reading the script was this is kamino ki DDLJ (Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge) or Bunty Aur Bubli on acid. So I decided to go ahead with it.

One has been hearing about the making of Tamanchey for a very long time. Even the release got pushed. Can you throw some light on why it got delayed?

The film got delayed in completion because we had some really bad luck. Nikhil got injured on the set of another film on his last day and the next day, he was supposed to come to my set. So that put us back by three-four months. Then, on the very first day of shoot Richa broke her knee. And that took really long to heal; it put us back by five months. We lost nearly a year because of these accidents. Since Richa and Nikhil are part of every scene it wasn’t like we could shoot anything else. Regarding the release date, we were going to release on September 19. But like other great and unique things that happened on our film, for the first time in 15 years, Yashraj postponed their film release. So our distributors felt we should move our release date too.

You are credited as the creative director of the film. How is it different from a regular director? 

In Tamanchey, you will notice that there are two directors – visual director and creative director. They have this concept in Hollywood. Navneet Behal (visual director) and I collaborated together and worked on the film, along with the rest of the direction team. Neither of us wanted to get the title of director, so that’s the reason we have two directors on the film.  By the way, I accidentally became the director of this film.

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What pushed you to direct the film too?

Initially we had got someone onboard to direct the film. My editor saw the two-day footage and realized that it can’t be used. So we canned that footage and decided that Navneet and I will helm the movie.

Nikhil was always a part of the project since he got the script. But what made you cast Richa Chadda as the female lead?

After reading the script we started looking for the girl. I recollected the one scene in Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye! which had Richa in it. I saw that scene again and immediately found my Babu in her. So we met Richa and she also loved the script, but couldn’t say ‘yes’ as she had date problems. We went back to our casting director and went through an entire process of auditioning girls for the role. But we couldn’t really find Babu. Luckily, Richa came back with dates and things just fell into place.

Did Nikhil and Richa go through acting workshops to prepare for their roles? 

We did a lot of workshops. For almost a month we worked with the actors because the entire film is about Munna (Nikhil Dwivedi) and Babu (Richa Chadda). You’ll see them in every single scene from start to finish. So to get the chemistry going between Nikhil and Richa we did a lot of workshops. Plus, the language – there are three different dialects in the film, Munna has a very eastern UP dialect, Babu has a typical Delhi dialect and the villain is Haryanvi.

What was the most challenging part in putting together your first film?

Everything was challenging; from getting the right kind of people onboard to staying within budget. I was very conscious that with this cast I had to make the film in a particular budget to keep it viable. We have been very fortunate to get very good people to work with within our budget. This film is made on passion and people have helped to put this together.

What brief did you give the HODs (cinematographer, costume designer and editor)?

We are highly influenced by Quentin Tarantino and Guy Ritche’s films so you can see that in Tamanchey. In fact a lot of people have noticed it, especially the editing style. We are hoping people like it. In terms of cinematography I was always keen that I get a Director of Photography who hasn’t worked in Bollywood. So he would visualize the film in a different way. We got Dani (Sanchez Lopez), a Spanish cinematographer onboard. I feel he has shot it differently from what anyone else would have. Navneet has worked in Hollywood for eight years and studied at New York Film School, so he is very organized, methodical and on paper that made things very easy for us. He overlooked the treatment part. Meanwhile we wanted to keep the clothes real and our costume designer (Nital Ganatra) has done a great job. We really gave her no budget. She’s picked-up costumes off the streets.

What are the shooting locations and how many days did the shooting schedule last?

The film has been shot in Delhi, Tehri Garhwal -a beautiful hill station in Northern Uttarakhand, Ahmedabad while most of the interior shots are in Mumbai. I must say that almost 80 per cent of the film has been shot on real locations. We did make a lot of effort in finding good real locations and also actually shot in a real gambling location. In fact, a murder took place in that location the night after our shoot. We also went into actual criminal areas which was risky but we got a lot of help from the locals. No one has ever shot in Tehri Garhwal before, so the locals were very nice and helpful. The shooting schedule lasted almost 55-60 days.

Tamanchey has got some really great songs. Can you tell us about the film’s music?

One, music is crucial for a film like ours as there are not known faces to connect with the audience. Two, I am a big music-buff so I can’t afford to have a crappy soundtrack. Speaking of the songs, the title Tamanchey doesn’t convey a love story, so we came up with the tagline Pyar mein dil pe maar de goli. We thought of getting the original song (Mahaan) to use it in the movie. Also, Nikhil and I are big fans of Amitabh Bachchan, so we had one more reason to do so. We started finding out about the song and discovered that Shemaroo has movie rights, so we were apprehensive as they are known to charge ridiculous amounts of money. But luckily we discovered that the music rights of the song lay with Universal Music so we spoke to them and managed to get it within our budget.

We have two more interesting songs: In da club and Dildara. Being a music lover I am constantly listening and searching for new music and talent. That’s how I came across Ikka Singh’s In da club. The entire team really liked it so we got him to revamp it for the movie. Meanwhile Dildara is a lovely romantic song sung by Sonu Nigam.

Which are your favourite films and who are your favourite filmmakers? 

This is a question I find difficult to answer because I have watched so many movies of different kinds, in fact there’s hardly a day when I don’t watch a film. When it comes to Bollywood, the reason I am a filmmaker is because of Mr Amitabh Bachchan. I am a great fan of his and love all his films. As far as the directors go, I will talk more about the current lot. I am a huge fan of Rajkumar Hirani. I like Anurag Kashyap and Dibaker Banerjee. And Navdeep Singh; he’s only made one film (Manorama Singh Fix Under), but I really liked it. When it comes to Hollywood, I like Tarantino, Guy Ritchie, Christopher Nolan and Martin Scorsese.

When did you realize that you want to be a filmmaker? 

I am sure a lot of people say that when I was a kid, but it actually happened when I was 10, and I saw Zanjeer. I was really fascinated by it and felt that I had to be a part of this world. So my shift to Mumbai hasn’t been really to produce films but to be involved in filmmaking. Production is something I took to because I felt that before directing a film I need to get more experience. Eventually I want to direct films. I have written three scripts and hope to make it next year.

– Rachana Parekh

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TAMANCHEY IS KAMINO KI DDLJ: SURYAVEER SINGH BHULLAR
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TAMANCHEY IS KAMINO KI DDLJ: SURYAVEER SINGH BHULLAR
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First time director-producer Suryaveer Singh Bhullar of Tamanchey talks to Pandolin about the hard work that went into making his debut feature film.
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