Gujarati cinema dates back to 1932, when the first Gujarati film, Narsinha Mehta was released. Wonderful films came out at that time. Those were the glorious days. Then, there was a lull, and a time came when hardly any Gujarati films were being made in a year. Then suddenly, recently, the industry changed. The younger generation took a liking to regional films. It became more accessible when the whole audio-video media was democratized.
The closed doors suddenly opened to everybody. A lot of young film-makers, who didn’t get a chance (Read: Money) earlier till they’d cast the producer as a ‘hero’, now had the opportunity to experiment and bring those films to the audience. This fleet of young directors started handling different themes and started making quality cinema in an urban setting – loosely called ‘Urban Gujarati film’. Films like Kevi Rite Jaish, Chello Divas, and Wrong Side Raju changed the Gujarati film industry landscape. Recent release Shubh Aarambh has been running full house shows from the day one.
This story is about three such young producers who decided to give it a shot at making their first Gujarati film – Shubh Aarambh.
This was my meeting with Nirav, Suryadeep, and Siddharth; a trio that came with no background whatsoever in filmmaking – a businessman, a pilot, and a video editor. A trio that made a film, took it to theaters and are ensuring to make it a hit.
“The surprising thing is that neither of us comes from a Gujarati family. We were born and brought up in Gujarat though”, says Nirav.
Passion, yes. Creativity, yes. But most importantly it was their love for their first ever movie. The first experience they wanted to share with everyone around them, which aptly went into instinctively naming the movie.
“We just came up with the name out of nowhere and it fit! Our first movie, the director’s first, 2017’s first Gujarati movie. Shubh Aarambh aesthetically gave a family movie feel as well”, says Suryadeep.
It’s an example to people who jump in uninformed or think too much and don’t before pursuing their penchant for an unexplored endeavor. Their internal sync, the way they tackled differences, and decision making in the movie, setting aside their personal agenda to look at the big picture worked best for them.
“There were times when two of us didn’t agree with the third on a certain matter, say posters, but then we knew if we get into discussing that, we wouldn’t have completed the movie. So, we wholeheartedly let the one, to whom the task was assigned, take a call. Luckily it all turned out like what it is!”, says Nirav.
If there was one thing all three of them agreed in a heartbeat – the name of the production house, The Travelling Circus.
“We were discussing the movies we liked, and Vipul Sharma (Writer) pitched in his favourite, Bagh Bahadur. It’s a 1990 movie with the story set in a village where an entertainer Ghunuram dresses up as a tiger to entertain people by telling stories. The most basic form of entertainment, when there were no TVs or radios, etc. He became the sole entertainer of the village. Sometime passed and a circus came to the village which threatened his position and stature. Even the girl he liked visited the circus. Engraged with emotion, Ghunuram visits the circus himself and the movie ends with a blood trickle down the screen when he challenges the real beast entering in the cage”, narrates Suryadeep.
“The concept where a travelling circus goes around entertaining people moving from place to place is one that resonated immediately with all three of us. That was it. We loved the concept travelling circus. Even our logo is of a man’s feet with tiger’s print in it”, says Siddharth.
The journey wasn’t the one without struggles. Getting a seasoned star cast like Harsh Chhaya and Prachee Shah, was one they hold dear to their hearts.
“Abhishek Jain gave us suggestions for the cast and told us, it would be difficult to get them on board. With Harsh, I think one of the reasons he was convinced was because we ourselves believed in the script, we lived it! From then on we never faced any obstacles, you know how they say, bade stars ke sath mein bahaut nakhre honge, we never had that. In fact, he helped us with everything. He’s still with us, supporting us with everything till date”, says Siddharth.
“Even with Prachee”, chimed in Suryadeep, “the day she said yes, we had to get her here, and I was discussing flight timings with her. The only affordable one in our budget was Air India (and we all know their delay streaks). But Prachee agreed, and unfortunately, the flight got delayed by 6 hours, and she was in the flight, not at the terminal but in the plane. She landed here at 12:30 pm and the shoot was scheduled to start at 1:00 pm. Imagine that, and still, she was completely supportive.”
While their mobile phone rings constantly during the meeting – giving updates about next screenings and then the congratulatory texts, they leave us with a message,
“You can’t excel on day one. Give yourself time to be a novice, don’t hesitate to ask what you don’t know. Live in it completely. And then, let the magic happen.”
Meanwhile, here’s a glimpse of the movie that is slayin’ it across theatres of Gujarat and Mumbai.
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