Interview By: ANKITA R. KANABAR

With movies like ‘Sarbjit’ and ‘Madaari’ to her kitty, producer Deepshikha Deshmukh has proven to go by her instinct and dared to make different kinds of movies. Here in this chat, we discuss her choices and challenges one faces as a producer, amidst more…

“Whatever happens at the box-office, the cinema goers will decide. All we can do is, make an honest attempt ”

How do you think it’s been so far for you as a producer, with the kind of films you’ve backed?

All our growing up years, we’ve seen papa produce the number of films he has and we’ve always been on the set, during our vacations. So you think that you understand it, but when you actually produce your own film, you realise there is so much more that goes into it. I think first and foremost, it’s the passion for cinema which got us here. We are very passionate about everything we do. That’s the reason we’re here. Also, the stories which I’ve produced are very different from the big mass entertainers that dad has been doing. So, for us it’s all about backing the content which you believe in. So, that’s the journey which has been so far. To fill papa’s shoes is a way big thing because he has done those mass entertainers, and we’re just starting out.

Also, you chose to associate yourself with films like ‘Sarbjit’ or ‘Madaari’ while just starting out, which many might have considered risky?

More than the risk, it was the subject we believed in; both Jackky and I. Also because we are brother and sister, we understood that bond. To see this woman who has done so much for her brother. It’s an issue which is hanging upon us. Perhaps, not just on us, but so many countries in the world are facing that. There are prisoners all over. So, it was just about just giving it a voice and whatever we could add to that. Overall the subject touched us so much, that we thought we need to do this. This needs to be put into a script. The film is very close to our hearts. It’s got a lot of accolades, it went to the Cannes and it’s very well accepted. It was a different start, it wasn’t a masala entertainer but it was something that we truly believed in. The whole subject of ‘Sarbjit’ was something which was so recent. We’ve lived his life literally. When we met her, the whole space where we also told her the story was something else. We finished the film, she came to us, cried and said, that at least someone has portrayed my sentiments. That’s when you feel like you’ve achieved everything. So, if cinema can make people go through that, that’s what you want. For us I think, we are doing a lot of masala entertainers also.

What has been a challenge as a producer?

I think the biggest challenge as a producer is, that now with the audience changing every day, you have to constantly put yourself in the place of the cinema goer and see if the content you’re pushing out is going to work or not. You need to constantly update yourself, whether it is the format of film-making or if it’s the cast. Everyone wants to make a brilliant film. The whole process of what’s on paper and what actually comes out on the big screen. I think that process is overwhelming, demanding and to make sure that it’s happening, that’s the toughest part. Everyone has good intentions when they start a film and nobody wants to make a bad film. The toughest part for any producer is to make sure that your director who is the captain of the ship and the rest of the crew is happy. To make sure that whatever you have signed up for, is coming across on-screen. For me, I think that has been the toughest part. To make sure that is achieved. The most overwhelming part as a producer is that the baby you put out there is exactly the same that you set out for.

What has influenced your choices as a producer?

Obviously, your own taste is always there when you pick out a project. It’s all sorts of genres. When you see ‘Sarbjit’, it is something very emotional. ‘Madaari’ was a social-economic thriller. ‘Tutak Tutak Tutiya’ did well for us and even the south version got some great response. Even our Punjabi film ‘Sarvar’ where we teamed with Priyanka Chopra’s production company got some great responses. I won’t say we are sort of typecasting. I love big commercial films like ‘Judwaa 2’ or ‘Golmaal’, I think right now, people are ready for that variety. Even you and me, when we go to cinema halls, we would watch a serious film and we would also watch a masala entertainer. I think, for me, I’m very open about the kind of films I want to produce, as long as I love the concept and what’s written. I need to like what’s being narrated to me.

Not to mention, producing a film isn’t as easy as it seems…

I’ll tell you, we are very lucky to have papa who we can fall back on. Whenever we’ve had any trouble, he is our ‘go-to’ person. Because of his experience and everything, he can sort out problems for us in minutes literally. So, we’re very lucky to have him there, guiding us through the process, which is very important. Challenges we need to overcome. Every day you walk out of the house and there are challenges but the way papa has brought us up, he’s told us that you need to set your goals and just go for it. Which field doesn’t have challenges? If we see the positive aspect of it, putting a project together and making sure people are happy. At the end of the day, that’s what matters. And whatever happens at the box-office, the cinema goers will decide. All we can do is, make an honest attempt.

In a way, do you feel despite your father’s legacy, you have been able to create your own individuality as a producer?

We’ve always had him guide us and hold our hand through every project. So, I don’t know. I think the day my father comes and tells me that he is proud of me, I think that’s the day, I will feel that I’ve been successful. We still have a long way to go. But that will be the most emotional moment of my life where he will pick up the phone and say that, ‘now I’m very proud of this film.’

You really want to concentrate on regional cinema, is that because regional cinema and also Hollywood, web-series – other content is being accepted so well by people?

We need to pull up our socks, that’s for sure. Because there’s so much content been thrown at you. Even I watch a lot of TV series. If you’re going to give them, any run-of-the-mill film, it’s not going to work, because you need to bring people out of their homes to watch that. You need to give them experience which is either larger-than-life, like ‘Bahubali’ something that they don’t want to experience on their phone. Or either give them really high content-driven films. Every day, you’re watching something on TV or amazon or Netflix. The kind of budgets they have and the kind of content they’re pushing through, is brilliant. But what’s amazing to see is that, regional cinema is getting a whole different light. People, like say Maharashtrians or Telegu or Tamil people, they want to see content in their languages and that’s why you see a lot of new talent coming up. I feel that regional cinema has just started off , it’s been an amazing last two years, for all regional spaces but I still feel like it’s going to go far enough. So, we’ve done one Marathi film, which is ‘Ventilator’ and it won a lot of awards. One Punjabi film, again both the films we partnered with Priyanka. Again, we’ve done a lot of south films. One is, with Nayantara. For us as a company, we are also rolling out and seeing what we can do to entertain the audience. What sort of genre the audience might like, and what do we want to give them as entertainment, everything is decided between the three of us.

Tell us about the line-up of your upcoming films.

We have a film right now which is directed by Chakri Toleti. It is with Sonakshi and Diljit Dosanjh. It also has Lara Dutta, Boman Irani and many other actors doing cameos. There’s another film with Chakri Toleti with Tamanaah and Prabhu Deva, which is in the horror thriller space. There’s another film with Taapsee Pannu and Saqib Saleem in the main lead. We have these three films panned from this quarter to Feb. We also have some south films coming up.

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