'Janhit Mein Jaari' maker Jai Basantu Singh on how working in campaigns, TV prepped him for film debut

'Janhit Mein Jaari' maker Jai Basantu Singh on what prepped him for film debut
Jai Basantu Singh _ pic courtesy imdb

Socially relevant films seem to be the flavour of the season as a lot of filmmakers with medium budget films have stepped into the territory of social dramas or comedies.

The outcome is two-fold – it helps bring in new stories in the content ecosystem thereby pushing the boundaries and it also ensures steady cash flow courtesy the relatability factor considering a sizeable chunk of revenue comes from tier 1 and tier 2 cities.

‘Janhit Mein Jaari’ starring Nushrratt Bharuccha and directed by debutant feature filmmaker Jai Basantu Singh, is one such film that opens a dialogue with regards to the use of contraception taking the message across places while delivering a healthy dose of entertainment to the audience.

In a recent conversation, Jai spoke about how has his experience of being a campaigner and TV director prepared him for his big screen debut, the idea behind the film and the challenges faced by his team to put together the ambitious project

Revealing how the idea behind the film came into being, the director says, “Raaj (Shaandilyaa, the film’s writer) had an idea of a small town girl selling condoms. It came from the point that usually we do not talk about things or issues like these in public whereas it is extremely important for it to make its way to public discourse.”

Hence, sketching the screenplay for the story was not a cakewalk. The landmines were tricky to tread and all over the place, “Since the idea is sensitive and a taboo, it was very challenging for me to write the screenplay for it due to the subject. I had to frame it in a way so that it doesn’t hurt people’s sentiment, balances the entertainment quotient and most importantly help the message reach out to the audience so that even families could watch this film together.”

Well, the universe conspired in his favour as the film was granted the UA certificate by the CBFC (Central Board of Film Certification) in India helping it cover a greater audience base.

But, the screenplay wasn’t the only thing that challenged Jai. The filmmaker, who will be soon seen on Cyrus Broacha’s podcast, had his own share of struggles from the logistical point of view as well as pandemic played the spoilsport. Jai shares, “This film was supposed to go on floors in April 2021. However, due to the second wave of the pandemic we could not shoot and the production was halted for 6 months. When we resumed pre-production, the third wave of the pandemic hit us.”

“It was really difficult for me to shoot the film in the small town of Chanderi, Madhya Pradesh because one has to take care of 220 people. During a pandemic, to shoot the film in a rural area along with the local crowd, was a very difficult challenge”, he adds.

But the locals from Chanderi and even the state government came to his and the film’s rescue, “Everything fell into place with the support of locals, the cast and the crew and even the Madhya Pradesh government.”

Jai has graduated from campaign and making content for television to a feature film director. Looking back, he feels that the experience that he gathered while working in the medium of advertising and films, armed him to understand the pulse of the masses in a better way.

He mentioned, “I started my career with directing campaigns. I went on to make around 650 or 700 campaigns. With these campaigns I learnt to tell my story in 30 seconds and then I further moved on to tell my story in 20 minutes through the medium of television as you have to build the entire world along with the core story and introduce a lot of important characters in episodic content. Both the mediums have helped me with regards to characterization, technicalities and work ethics.”

Films like ‘Dil Chahta Hai’ and ‘3 Idiots’ have played a crucial role in boosting tourism for Goa and Ladakh, respectively. Considering that, he feels that Chanderi – a small town which has earlier been the home to the Rajkummar Rao-starrer ‘Stree’, would surely witness an uptick in its tourism, “I definitely think that after being featured in two films there would be more people visiting the town”, he concludes.

–By Akshay Acharya