'Anyone in India can relate with SAARE JAHAAN SE MEHNGA'
After successfully making PHAS GAYE RE OBAMA, producer Ashok Pandey is back with SAARE JAHAAN SE MEHNGA..., under the banner of Revel Films. While his earlier film PHAS GAYE RE OBAMA, which was a hit with audience, had dealt with recession in a humorous way, his second outing SAARE JAHAAN SE MEHNGA, once again a tongue-in-cheek comedy, is a comment on Inflation. While SAARE JAHAAN SE MEHNGA is gearing up to release on March 8, 2013, he has already begun work on his third production BACH GAYE RE OBAMA, sequel to his first film PHAS GAYE RE OBAMA. Recently we caught up with the maverick producer. Here are the excerpts:
What inspired you to make your second film on inflation? I wanted to make a film that touches the common man life. In February 2011, prices of onions had mounted to unheard of rate of Rs 70 a kg. This inspired me to make the film on Mehngai as there was no respite from it.
PHAS GAYE RE OBAMA was a clean laugh riot. What should audience expect from SAARE JAHAAN SE MEHNGA? Since I believe in clean family entertainers, SAARE JAHAAN SE MEHNGA is also a satirical comedy. It has situational comedy and people will be able to relate with it and laugh at their own plight. The movie has a high comedy quotient. It takes you to a high and then plunges you into tears!
Describe your perception of mehngai Mehngai has become synonymous with India. We are a high growth emerging economy in the world. But as I see it we are a 'high growth emerging economy only in mehngai.'
Why do you choose to work with new comers as directors? It is easy to pick established talent, but it's a challenge to harness a new talent. I like to take the challenge and in the process give a new director to the Industry every time. I have been fortunate to have been able to identify some great talent. First Subhash and now Anshul. It feels really good.
There have been quite a few films in the past which dealt with inflation in their way. How different is SAARE JAHAAN SE MEHNGA? The USP of the film is its content. It is high in content and anyone in India can relate to it with ease. The film focuses on the very current issue of Mehngai that all of us are facing day in and day out. The protagonist family is an average middle class family that most of India is. Yeh Ghar Ghar ki Kahani hai, which is told in a very interesting, fun and sensible manner, something that the entire family can cherish.
Your third project BACH GAYE RE OBAMA is once again a satire? Do you feel specially connected to this genre? Satire as a genre is great in telling controversial or difficult topics. With BGRO we are tackling a difficult task of coming out of recession. If we showed how the economists and government try to deal with it in a serious manner, this will become terribly boring. Using satire we make it interesting and fun.
With ensemble cast and strong storyline, music is a very integral and important component. Comment. Music is very important part of Hindi Cinema and integral to how we watch and enjoy films. We have a great plot, highly talented ensemble cast, mind-blowing lyrics woven into very enjoyable music - thus creating a fun fare!
As told, you have a very varied group of singers. Sonu Nigam and Amit Kumar are not so much on the circuit. Why did you go for them? Singers like actors have to fit the character (of songs). Sonu Nigam has sung a love song, which I believe is his forte. With Amit Kumar we needed a singer that can go into the 80s when Kishore ji was in vogue. One hums songs of his time when in good mood. Our protagonist is middle-aged and this song is depicting his happiness. Songs in his youth would be that of Kishore Kumar so we chose Amit ji since he is the best artist to sing a song in the style of that era and bring it alive in today's time. I like to take challenges and break the stereotype, and hence charting new, off-the-beaten tracks doesn't bother me, instead it excites me!
You unveiled the first look with the concept of mehngai. Is your promotion centered around this subject? Will we see some unique marketing activity for the film? Our promotion is centered on the storyline of our film that focuses on Mehngai. Yes, Mehngai is core but what is more important is how the family is crushed under its burden and is trying to deal with it in any way they can. You have already seen our teaser and a real-life creative where a dummy man is crushed under the weight of the day-to-day kirana items. There is more coming, so stay tuned!!
Share us some interesting anecdotes on the film I like to take on the challenge of breaking the stereotype. I will support my director to take bold steps and make a stereotype 'hero' into a 'villain' and vice-versa. The key is if he has the confidence to take on this challenge!!
...And your most confusing moment as a producer. The biggest confusion was whether to do the next film after PGRO or not. The confusion was sorted after I analyzed about 300-400 films and made a financial model to understand the mechanics of film business.
Another confusing moment was before we decided the shoot location. We wanted to shoot in Haryana because the script demanded it. The uncertainty of safety, security, cost and weather made it very confusing. Finally we dropped it in favor of Wai in Maharashtra as we were more familiar with it having shot for PGRO.
The confusing moments come and go. After you look at the available information and analyze it, it becomes easy to decide and clear the fog of confusion.