ABOUT THE FILM
Kehri Singh is a poor farmer who buries his new born girl child alive. The birth of two sons later doesn’t change his fortunes for the better. Desperate, he turns to a traveling godman who tells him that the only way out for him is to adopt a girl child. A baby girl is brought home, whom he names Preet, and assuredly, Kehri Singh’s fortunes turn. From being a nobody, he becomes the feared face of modern Gurgaon.
Director Shanker Raman’s debut film Gurgaon had its world premiere at the recently concluded 1st International Film Festival & Awards-Macao. We caught up with him and lead actors Akshay Oberoi and Ragini Khanna on their experience of creating the film.
Excerpts from the interview:
- Shanker Raman
The Long Wait
It took about two years to complete Gurgaon after we shot it and another couple of years to write the film. I am happy with the progress and that we have a final product. It took a while to make Gurgaon, because we were very keen to have the widest possible release. We were careful in ensuring that it doesn’t feel restricted to a certain audience.
On The Process of Writing
I spent most of the time on writing because it is a very lonely process. I mean you’re just sitting in a room and banging away at the keys. The final writing process starts once a film gets funded. In a certain sense, you’re writing pretty much till the sound mix but what I am talking about is literally rewriting whatever you need to do depending on the funding. I think we were in a good shape when the funding came in and I did some rewrites after that.
Why Gurgaon Redefines A Mainstream Film
We wanted to make a mainstream film, but we were trying to redefine mainstream. I am not saying what currently exists as mainstream is bad, but I think it’s important to have all kinds of expression available to us. When I use the word mainstream, I am not using it in a regressive manner. The way Gurgaon is packaged and put together, it’s an extremely accessible film, it makes you engage, wonder and probably shocks you. It’s a new voice and new voices are as important as the current ones.
On Drawing From Reality
From a filmmaker’s point of view, everything is drawn from what has happened in our world. There are times when we choose to look at it and there are times when we don’t. The theme was simply chosen to confront what we are not comfortable confronting, but not from a place of judgement but from a place where we can connect with each other. My intention was look into how we live as a society and in that sense I would say the setting is common to any place, it cannot be restricted only to Gurgaon.
- Ragini Khanna and Akshay Oberoi
First reactions after reading the script
Ragini Khanna – After reading the script, for three days I was just involved in the world of Gurgaon. There was so much about the subtext and things which are not spoken in the film, it really impacted me. When I met Shanker, I didn’t really talk about the film or the script, it just seeped in organically.
Akshay Oberoi – I remember reading the script in a car in Bangalore. I was given a time limit to respond. I closed the script and thought that there are very few times in our Hindi cinema industry you get to play roles that you can actually dig into and explore. I realised I had something here that may not ever happen again, so I immediately picked up the phone and said yes.
On Evolving As An Actor
RK – To me, evolving as an actor means to evolve as a person and that’s exactly what happened with me in Gurgaon. I have been associated with the project for two years. The conversations I had with Shanker helped me shift my perspective towards many things in life. I would want to have this impact with whichever film I associate myself with. I am here to learn and express freely given the right environment.
Picking Non-Mainstream Scripts
RK – Everything is so compartmentalised these days. Arthouse, mainstream, television, web, etc. In my head, everything is content and whatever is good content, has an audience. If I could benefit in terms of perspectives, knowledge, worldviews and spirituality, I definitely want to want attach myself to a project.
AO – I am not able to wrap my head around how people chose films in that manner. I don’t think it should be an actor’s concern. I try and see what the script is doing for me as an actor, if I am excited, if I believe in the director’s vision. I think we need to break away from these tags; it’s all content and there’s an audience.
Gurgaon, won the NFDC Film Bazaar – Work In Progress Lab Award in the Fiction category in 2015.