What I am doing now is more out of passion than business: Shailendra
Shailendra Singh has had a midas touch with all the properties that he has created so far across media. Be it Percept Picture Company or the hugely popular music festival, Sunburn. The Joint Managing Director of Percept has also directed a number of short films under his YouTube channel titled ‘Long Story Short Films’. He now dons the hat of a feature film director with Sunshine Music Tours and Travels (SMTT). And hopes to continue his winning streak with this film. Pandolin spoke with Singh about SMTT and what makes it a unique concept.
Let’s start with your journey from being the head of Percept to debuting as a feature film director.
The way I see it, I was in business all my life and now I am the business. So, it’s a shift from commerce to creativity. I have just jumped fence. I have been in this business of creativity for commerce reasons. Now it’s creativity for the sake of the consumer. What I am doing now is more out of passion than business.
What was the idea behind Sunshine Music Tours & Travels?
The idea was to do something for young people as we are the youngest population in the world. The idea of Bollywood Next is also to make cinema which is more realistic and focuses on genres that don’t exist. There is a lot of good work that is already taking place. Be it Ayan Mukherjee, Rohit Shetty or Imtiaz Ali. My idea was to look at the spaces that were left open. And one such major genre was traveling. Not many travel films are made in India. Except for the exception of films like Dil Chahta Hai or Bombay to Goa. India is a massive country, both visually and culturally. And music is an inherent part of our lifestyle. So my brief to myself was to make a travel-musical film. And then came the story of a boy named Sunburn (Sunny Kaushal), who has a dream of going to Sunburn but couldn’t afford it for nine years. I wrote a story based on this character, which is based on true events.
My idea was to look at the spaces that were left open. And one such major genre was traveling
You could have cast any of the big stars but you chose to work with the newcomers, why so?
I think this whole phenomenon of stars exists in the script and the concept of the movie. If you take inspiration from Hollywood films, then there are umpteen examples of films that have broken box office records without any established stars working in it. That is so because the concept and storyline of the film is a star. See it is plain mathematics, if you take a star at a price of 150 crores and that film makes 300 crores then it’s a one is to one ratio. The profits are not worth investing your time and caliber. I would rather make a movie in one rupee and try to achieve a hundred. The latter sounds more interesting a ratio to target.
I take a lot of inspiration from Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon from China, Life is Beautiful from Italy and Ong Bak from Thailand. Ong Bak crossed 180 million in business. Thailand doesn’t even have a film industry. Life is Beautiful crossed 160 million. I am inspired by these numbers and the thought process behind them. I am not inspired by the 200-300 crore game. I don’t get excited by that business model. Also, they are already doing a damn good job so I would rather let them be.
Music plays a crucial role in the film. What were your requirements? And how did Nucleya come on board?
The music is slice of life. For me it’s always music that takes the screenplay forward. There are no item songs or songs that are unnecessarily pumped in. Each song has a meaning to the story and takes the narrative forward. The background score of the film is very unique. We have fourteen tracks which are done by Nucleya, Hardwell and Armin Van Buuren. Music is the strength of the film. It plays a very critical role in terms of elevating the journey to that level. I promise that with the film’s music you can definitely expect something that is brand new. I am just keeping my fingers crossed that it works.
We have fourteen tracks which are done by Nucleya, Hardwell and Armin Van Buuren
What was the most challenging part of making a travel film with a huge cast?
The challenging part was that nobody had an affair on the set. (laughs) I was hoping that people have a lot of fights. I was hoping that people would sleep with each other. Nothing happened! It was damn boring! Everybody was very sincere and disciplined. We ended up making the film in record time.
The climax was shot in real-time in the presence of 400,000 people
The climax of the film is shot in real-time. How important was this real footage for the film and logistically how did you manage it?
Yes, it was shot in real-time in the presence of 400,000 people. It was important in terms of the narrative. It was my festival, a home ground in that sense, so shooting wasn’t an issue. But it was still a nightmare to do so, considering the huge crowd that was in the arena. It was very complex to shoot emotions and at the same time stay guerilla. We also used the main stage and the DJ’s in the climax scene so it was very complicated and difficult to repeat. For all the youngsters it will be quite a moment to watch out for.
What would you like the audience to take away from this film?
Dreams! They come true. Believe in your dreams. Don’t let anyone demolish your dreams. Not even your parents, neighbors, friends, boyfriend or girlfriend. Just forget everybody. You were born to dream and to fulfill them. Just go for it and have some fun!
You were born to dream and to fulfill them
What are your plans to promote the film? Any special promotional techniques that you’ve adopted?
There is something which we are doing on August 28. Come to Andheri, opposite Yash Raj Studios at 4:00 pm. That’s it. Come and you would know. I can’t disclose much because it is important. We are doing a lot of unconventional stuff with this film.