Exclusive interview with Vijaypat Singhania on his maiden film production ‘Woh Tera Naam Tha’

To the discerning cineaste, Vijaypat Singhania may be a new name as a producer, but as an industrialist, he is a household name. His CV makes for interesting reading, having cemented his place in the textile industry, and branching out to unlikely fields like flying, animal husbandry, education, hospitals, publications and now the exciting world of films. Having almost completed his first film WOH TERA NAAM THA (www.wohteranaamtha.com), Vijaypat Singhania takes stock. Excerpts from an interview...
When you were aware of the risks involved in filmmaking, why did you take the plunge? There are cyclical changes, and ups and downs in any industry. The depressed business scenario the industry is going through today will pass. The industry is currently run mostly by proprietorships. Corporatisation will help ease out the unsettled situation to a great extent. Secondly, the high level of government's entertainment taxes and an ineffective anti-piracy policy is not of much help.
Who or what inspired you to make a Muslim social, WOH TERA NAAM THA?
I have been uncomfortable by the kind of films being made today. I strongly believe they contribute tremendously to the psyche of today's youth. I have been brought up in a very conservative atmosphere, where ideals matter in life. I have inculcated the values instilled in me by my father and am now trying to pass them on to the present generation through this film. I have symbolised these through the story of a conservative Muslim family based in Bhopal, and if the youth understands this message, my purpose would have been adequately served. As for Muslim social, let me tell you that WOH TERA NAAM THA in neither a purely Muslim film nor am I speaking up in favour of Muslims alone. The fact remains that a majority of traditional Muslims are disciplined and follow their traditional values with utmost care. If I find a powerful subject involving values of other communities, I would most certainly seriously look at them too. I and my scriptwriter J P Chowksey who is a veteran journalist, were totally convinced about the values that we are talking about in this film. The music also will gradually grow on you. It is not instant pop music. I have three music directors Dilip Sen - Sameer Sen, Roopkumar Rathod, who has given excellent classical music, and Sumeet Chopra a fine and dedicated composer from London. I also roped in the veteran folk music singer of Pakistan Reshma, and recorded a song with her in Dubai. The final music track, its mixing and mastering were done in Mumbai.
How much interest do you take in the production of the film? Since I am the producer, every decision is approved by me. I have been actively involved with the entire shooting process on a day-to-day basis. I have taken care to see that no vulgarity is shown and nothing goes against the values I believe in. Hence, the responsibility of the film is entirely mine, whether it is good or bad.
Why didn't you think of making films earlier, if you were so convinced about depiction of your values on celluloid?I was very preoccupied with other business interests. Since I have retired now, I decided to use my free time here.
With your resources you could have gone in for better face value...?
I didn't want to use corporate money in films. Taking on big stars would have meant date hassles and delay. Time is money, and the kind of delays one sees in this industry can seriously affect economics. Besides, I also wanted to give opportunities to talented youngsters. There are two total newcomers, who, I am sure, will make it big - Gaurav Chanana, who plays a 'tangewala' and Shalini Pal, who left an airline job to try her luck in acting. The two main stars Arjan Bajwa and Kanchi Kaul have had some experience having worked in films from the South. The others are also very promising. I have a special word of praise for Mr. Amrish Puri whose performance and dedication come out brilliantly. I am sure he must not have acted with such intensity in any other film. Another established star Mr. Prem Chopra lends a few lighter moments to the otherwise serious content.
What do you expect from this film?I am an amateur in this field. The communication coming through filmmaking is intangible. It cannot be forced upon anybody. Whereas in any other business, you can sell your products for a price depending on specifications, in films it depends on factors neither foreseeable nor definable. I have done it according to my convictions. If the people like it, it would be a bonus for me. I am sure, many amongst the discerning audiences would certainly share my views. Since the film is value-based and not limited to any particular community, there is no reason why it cannot appeal to audiences all over the world.