Sunday, November 16, 2008

Film "Summer 2007" selected in Panorama at IIFT

Summer 2007 is based on harsh realities of today’s India where there are some 36 billionaires; economy is scaling a trillion dollar mark but still some 80 million people live for less than Rs.20 a day. Rural poverty and lack of facilities in villages is so wide spread that Farmer are forced to end their lives rather than continuing to live miserably under debt and dishonor. Urban India for sure is reaping the benefits of close to double digit growth rate and development, infrastructure etc.

Summer 2007 – a film on this sensitive issue of farmers’ suicide in Vidarbha Region of Maharashtra is produced by Atul Pandey and directed by Suhail Tatari. The film had a disastrous release earlier this year but is now selected in the Panorama Section for the International Film Festival of India, 2008 which will be held in Goa from 22nd November this year.

This is first movie of Atul Pandey who comes from a small town Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh. He was probably aware that the film might not fill his coffers but will be appreciated by the audience and critics. But unfortunately neither of this happened. The distributors did not believe in the film as it had new comer actors, director and producer. They gave it a disastrous release of only 338 shows pan India. The marketing czars refused to promote the core content of the film, for them probably only fun and songs worked.

Atul was extremely toxic for a long time. “No one can even imagine what I have gone through in the past nearly five months. I knew we had a good film, I knew it would be appreciated all over but the film was peeled off the face of the earth so swiftly that I could not do anything about it. I made noises but no one heard me. I have adored and loved this Industry, I belong here, but I never knew some people could be shylocks”. Critics had a ball at our cost. They said, ‘film had just too much of it’, ‘it had farmers issues, administration and politician nexus, it had naxalites, it had social reformers. I am perplexed at their lack of intelligence and knowledge, there would be no farmer committing suicide if administration and politics did not have a nexus, naxals can be related to uneven order in certain areas, and wherever there is apathy, there are reformists. I think critics are not used to stories in cinema, dance, drama, music and humour that’s it’.

‘But fortunately, most of the critics outside Mumbai wrote wonderful things about the film. I was pleasantly surprised when a show on MTV gave our film 3 stars and young kids spoke nice things about it. A social organization got some 500 farmers to see the film in Allahabad. I had tears in my eyes seeing their reactions, they didn’t know that farmer deaths are so widespread in Vidarbha – they said they themselves were poor else they would have done something for their brothers’.

I have had a true smile on my face after very long. I really needed this.

Atul doubts how far this senseless allocation of funds for irrelevant films will continue, ‘people will have to learn that at the end of the day it is the content of the film that needs to be the driver. Why do the critics and business heads keep blaming film makers for churning out similar kind of crap week after week when they themselves get ruthless while gauging a sensitive film’. ‘I am not against big films but who says they can’t be made on proper stories’. Aamir Khan has proved it again and again.

Right now he is readying for various festivals in Indian and overseas. We have a few big surprises that I will disclose at appropriate time. But let me assure you, I will not sit idle till this film gets its due. It is just unfortunate that a film company of the size and span of Reliance Adlabs has not supported us in our endeavor. They didn’t support us at the release or promotion, when I was on the mat and neither now when the film is getting its due appreciation. I don’t think it is the whole organization, it is just few executives who have become mightier than gods as I adore atleast one person at the helm and idolize another two in their company but obviously big guys do not time for small producers such as me.

Atul Pandey’s next film Bhairavi is also complete. The film is already drawing controversy. It is learnt that the movie is based on the relationship between Pt. Ravi Shankar and his first wife Annapurna Devi. In return to this Mr. Pandey said, every movie is motivated from some where but my movie has nothing which should be drawn to such criticism. It is a father, daughter story at one level and a husband, wife story at another. Yes the protagonists are all musicians, they play sitar so what? And by the way, one of my all time best has been Abhimaan. He adds that let us be honest, there is nothing like 100% fiction. Every piece of fiction is inspired by things that happen around us.

Whatever Mr. Pandey says, the reporter who saw the movie recently connects it to the reality. However, no denying the fact that it is an extremely sensitive film about relationships. Bhairavi too is directed by Suhail Tatari.

Atul Pandey, his next is a humorous yet socially relevant film “Jalebi culture”. We have already had one small schedule and will finish the films shooting this winter. he adds, ‘I have been on the mat for a while, now I am going to put the audience on the mats – they are going to fall down laughing from their seats, Jalebi Culture is an outrageous script’ and I am giving the chance to direct this film to young boy Atul Gangwar who was with Sahara TV earlier.

After Summer 2007, we were committed to start three movies. Next in line for January/Feb shoot is a childrens movie “laaaton ke bhoot”. If I have my way, I will keep making films for kids, Laaton ke bhoot is a start, it is again very relevant, very sensitive and very funny and will be directed by Rajesh sethi, one or two songs will be compose by youngest pianist of the world 12 year old Abhay Goyale from Delhi.

Early next year, we get busy with “73”. It is an international spy thriller. It has only five Indian actors, rest of the cast is from Pakistan, France, Germany, Iran, Israel etc. We have a composer from U.S. The music is getting ready and will be directed by young Bijesh Jayaram.

And finally we have an untitled film written by Deepak Chaurasiya – the chief news editor of Star News. Deepak has lot of experience in covering war and terror. The story is based on his real accounts. Atul says, ‘we read newspapers everyday and watch all the news channels all the time but what insights Deepak has given in this story are astonishing and I am absolutely certain that this film is going to stun everyone next year’. ‘Deepak brings in lots of knowledge and resources’.


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