The Friday of 5th September 2008 saw a movie by the name A WEDNESDAY – the intelligent tirade against terrorism saw two powerhouse actors Naseeruddin Shah and Anupam Kher giving you a memorable and moving movie experience.
A WEDNESDAY – the debut directorial venture of Neeraj Pandey who honestly confessed to Anupam that he won’t be able to afford his entire acting fees for the movie, saw the taut drama becoming an inspiration for the Tamil movie UNNAIPOL ORUVAN that starred stalwarts like Kamal Haasan and Mohanlal, Telugu movie EENADU that starred Kamal Haasan again in the Telugu version with Daggubati Venkatesh playing the role of the cop. Even a Hollywood flick A COMMON MAN starring the legendary Sir Ben Kinsley is inspired from A WEDNESDAY. The movie which changed the course of coming Fridays gave birth to a director to reckon with in Neeraj Pandey and a production – Friday Film Works that made a promise to churn socially relevant cinema that entertained and enthralled as well.
Friday Film Works founded by Neeraj Pandeya nd Sheetal Bhatia has completed nine years and the journey from A WEDNESDAY to TOILET: EK KATHA has been a testimony of promised fulfilled. Be it the latest success TOILET: EK KATHA that underlined the alarming rate of 54 percent of defecation in India happening in open fields, or the action thriller BABY, or the dark con comedy SPECIAL 26, the quirky SAAT UCHAKEY or the acclaimed Marathi film TARYANCHE BAIT, Friday Film Works has explored genres and challenged the stereotypes. The wonderful spin off on BABY – NAAM SHABANA is another example.
However, when we quipped Neeraj Pandey to define his kind of cinema, the director in his utter humbleness and simplicity said, “I think I am a few years and few films away from answering this one but the emphasis has been on chasing unique ideas and scripts. There's also a respect for the audiences time and money.” When we find filmmakers beating their chest on their creative impulse and how far they have traveled to get the particular nuances right for a certain character or a film, this simple and precise answer speaks about the grounded mindset of the filmmaker.
Busy in receiving congratulatory messages on the completion of nine years of Friday Film Works, Neeraj also threw some light about the alleged rumours of CRACK starring his lucky charm Akshay Kumar being shelved.. he said that it is on and right now he is focusing on AIYAARY – A real life story based on the relationship of a Mentor and Protégé starring Sidharth Malhotra, Rakul Preet Singh & Manoj Bajpayee.
Speaking further on the speculated clash of AIYAARY with Rajinikanth and Akshay Kumar’s 2.0, Neeraj cleared that they are working on it and cleared that the clash is not with Akshay Kumar as the genre of 2.0 and AIYAARY are completely different. Neeraj said that he sees no harm to his relatively small budget AIYAARY on next year Republic week release.
When we asked to comment on the journey since A WEDNESDAY and the difference between the artistic pull and commercial push observed during the nine years journey of FRIDAY FILM WORKS, Neeraj said, “We have always believed that we are commercial filmmakers. A WEDNESDAY was always a commercial film for us and so has been the case with our subsequent films. A balance between both worlds is possible and our films strive to achieve it.
The world of cinema is divided into two groups, the one which endorses the idea of the influential Dutch painter Vincent Willem Van Gogh who said, “Never stop making art, even if you are the only one who knows you're making it' and the one like Neeraj Pandey who even when duty bound in their endeavors to give respect to the audience time and money, are well versed in their 'art' to churn an entertainer with a difference that makes the difference.