What’s in a name – A lot! If you’re ‘the B Grade film | A Pandolin Exclusive!
Debutante producer director duo – Prachi Manmohan and Nivedita Basu: Two powerhouses belonging to the emerging breed of female filmmakers. Here in conversation with Pandolin as they share their thoughts on the changing face of women filmmakers and also provide exclusive details on their upcoming project:
How did your debut into the media happen?
I had actually signed up for an engineering course when my father suggested that I pursue advertising. From then on I knew that media is where I want to be. I worked with Channel V and later joined Balaji. At that time I didn’t even know who Ekta was. When I finally saw her, I realized she was a young girl running the entire building. And that I said was a success story. When we did meet, she liked some of my ideas and post that there was no looking back.
From television soaps to your debut as a film director. How did the journey happen?
While I was in Balaji I was part of some films that didn’t relatively do very well. But it served as a big learning of the dos and don’ts. When I quit, I thought I should do something completely different hence I did regional shows for a while. I actually wanted to do films, do something that was finite, where the story didn’t go on indefinitely. I have been involved in creatives and the stories but decided to do at least one project hands down in the direction team before setting off on my own. That is when I got Zilla Ghaziabad.
Do you think coming from a non-film background has been a challenge in any way?
Luckily it wasn’t a problem since my branding in television was immense. It’s about getting the right chance, which I was lucky to have got. I didn’t have to struggle and go the assistant way as the first film I got was as an Associate. Essentially because I script doctored the film and the director liked my work.
Is it a complete goodbye to television?
Not really. Films work for a stipulated time, so what do you in between? I’m not someone who can sit idle at all. So television is a very good window – there’s always lots to do. In films you are doing lots on one thing. Even while working on the idea of my film, I was consulting on several TV shows on a story basis. So there’s a lot I want to do and would keep doing.
What was your first brush with films like?
I was a kid, barely 11 -12 years old when I started accompanying my dad on his film sets. I used to force my dad to give me work. I would serve tea -coffee to the actors. When my dad noticed, he gave me a camera and asked me to shoot the making of the film. I didn’t even know what the making was and so he said, “shoot all the funny things that happen on the sets.” And that is how I did my first assignment – the making of Deewangee.
Have you always desired to be a part of Bollywood? Is film production the aspect that you always wanted to master?
I am very passionate about the movies – I love watching movies, I love making movies. I love every part of cinema. I’ve been an AD on several ad films and feature films also. But since I was a kid I’ve been 100 per cent sure that producing films is what I want to do.
Has it been any less of a struggle coming from a film background?
I’ve done a lot of work beyond my father’s production company and several independent projects. Infact my debut project is also something that I am doing independently, so I’ve never really used my background to get things my way.
Do you plan to go beyond production and try other facets of film-making?
I have directed several short films. But as of now I am very happy with what I am doing. The rest depends on time.
[box_light]Prachi & Nivedita[/box_light]
Today we are seeing a lot of women proving their mettle on the field, do you feel this is the perfect time for a woman director – producer duo debuting?
P: Yes, now is the perfect time. In fact I believe that you cannot release the film even later than next year.
How would you attribute this new wave of films helmed by women filmmakers in mainstream cinema?
N: It’s a good time that the industry is witnessing. There are several women filmmakers out there who have done good and different content. Times have changed considerably and the industry has become more open.
Over the last few years we have had several successful box office hits made by women, but has the industry truly evolved to look beyond gender typecasting?
N: There was a time when there were only a few handful women filmmakers but now that trend has changed. There is no such restriction or constraint now as to who is behind the camera.
What kind of expectations do you think the film industry has from films driven by women – be it a director, producer or actor?
P: I think now it’s all the same. Everyone is at par. If you’re doing good work you get noticed irrespective of your gender.
[pullquote_right]At this point all I can say is that it is loosely inspired by true events and true people. When people see it they might be able to identify that this is the story of someone they know. It’s going to be a women centric comedy film. Full Bollywood style, complete masala.[/pullquote_right]
How did the two of you come to collaborate on your upcoming project?
P: We have known each other since a while. One day I had gone to meet her casually over coffee when she narrated the gist of a film she had in mind. There was no detailed narration, just a song she made me hear and a basic story-line that I instantly liked. I told my father, I will find financers on my own but I want to do this film.
N: She had just come to meet me and heard a rough sketch of the idea. And that is it, she wanted to do it. We realized that we are both like-minded young people so it was a good combination. If I have some ideas its incidental that even she thinks the same.
How long have you’ll both been on the project?
P: It’s been a month now that I’ve been on board.
N: I started in March and wanted to finish it within a year but it might go on a bit more. When you’re making a small budget film, the idea is to finish it within a year, right from the script to the shooting, the music, edit till you get your first copy in hand.
Who came up with the title “The B Grade film” ?
N: I’ve worked on the idea from scratch. I realized that if I have to make a small budget film from the word go, everything has to be eye – catching to create the right kind of buzz, essentially when no one knows you. It helps create the intrigue, draw attention as to what the movie will be about. Even though I have a background of television, we are new in the film world. So everything from the title to the cast, the kind of songs, has to be a well thought out process. It has to be commercial yet be a clutter breaker.
Tell us about the film? What was the inspiration behind the project?
N: At this point all I can say is that it is loosely inspired by true events and true people. When people see it they might be able to identify that this is the story of someone they know. It’s going to be a women centric comedy film. Full Bollywood style, complete masala.
Who comprises the cast of the film? Who is the casting director?
P: We are doing the casting ourselves. No casting director. We are still in the process of finalizing the cast.
N: Though we are making a small budget film we might end up having bigger actors. We are not a conglomerate but we might do a model where we have big actors doing a small independent film. If your vision is clear people will believe in you.
Can you tell us about the crew of the film?
N: The story and basic screenplay is essentially mine. We are working with a lot of people on a relationship basis. We got people on our price because they believe in us and what we are making. We’ve taken a lot of technicians from the south.
P: I am in the process of building my own production team for the film.
Who is the DOP on the film?
N: The DOP is from Priyadarshan’s team. Two of his films have gone to the national awards. We met during Zilla and I saw his work and loved it. I didn’t want to compromise on my technicians. This will also give my cast confidence.
What kind of sound do you plan to use in the film?
We are using sync sound. We have roped in Sohail Sanwari who has last done Aamir Bashir’s Harud.
Is the film going to have any Bollywood style dance and music?
Yes around 6 songs. Full on Bollywood masala.
Were there any creative disputes?
N: Not at all. Being younger it’s much easier for us to connect and agree upon things. When we go to meet someone, we have already discussed first within ourselves who are the options. Because at the end of the day, I may like something but Prachi has to market it, so somewhere I give her the last say. But as the creative person, I have lived my character for the longest time so I see who is a perfect fit; I have that freedom. At the end you need to have a clean and symbiotic relationship.
P: If something doesn’t work out according to us, we talk it out and finally settle for what suits both of us, and moreover what is best for the film.
As a director, to what extent should a line be drawn when it comes to creative inputs from the team?
N: I’m very open to inputs. I feel as a director or producer the best way is to argue it out. You convince me or I convince you. You need to voice your apprehensions and clear them. We are happy with our respective positions, I want her to do well in that and same goes with her.
When is the film slated for release?
We are looking at sometime mid next year