Interview By: ANKITA R. KANABAR
Having produced some of the best films in recent times – from ‘Shahid’ to ‘Tanu Weds Manu’ to ‘Omerta’ – Shaailesh Singh now seems to have a good knack of picking up different stories. Just as his last venture ‘Judgementall Hai Kya’ received rave reviews, he’s had another release already in the form of ‘Jabariya Jodi’. Here the producer talks about both these films and more…
You’ve had two back-to-back releases, so has it been pretty chaotic?
It’s chaotic but equally exciting because both the films are poles apart from each other and the response has been good so far.
What’s been your reaction to the feedback which ‘Judgementall Hai Kya’ got?
It’s been great and it was more than we expected. It reached the people we wanted to target, so it’s a great feeling.
Prashant Singh told me that it was not difficult to get you on board to produce ‘Jabariya Jodi’ since you know each other for years. So, what did you like about the script?
Firstly, Prashant started his career with me as an assistant and since then he has been an AD on many of my films. So, for me there was not much to think about since I knew Prashant and I wanted him to make an individual film and work with him. Then when he told me about ‘Jabariya Jodi’ it was exciting.
What do you see in a script when you decide to back a film?
The only thing I see in it is the story. If someone comes to me with a story which I’m really excited about, then, I don’t think much. If it excites me, I decide to do it and once I make that mind, then I think of other factors and how to go about it. Story is the most important thing for me.
How much have you evolved as a producer over the years in the industry?
You obviously grow with every film, because you work with different people. You come across so many different stories and that experience contributes a lot. Of course, with my first film I wasn’t very mature but when ‘Judgementall…’ happened, I obviously had a better understanding of the industry and the audience. Your understanding also comes from people who you work with, and fortunately, I’ve been working with some really good film-makers, they have all contributed towards my knowledge For me, things are very instinctive. Spontaneously, if I like a story I go for it. I can’t sleep over a story. I have to react immediately.
What has been your most satisfying experiences as a creative producer?
Obviously once a film is made and you see it, you feel that things could have been done better but when you’re making it you give your best to it, so every film experience has been satisfying. I won’t say that ‘Simran’ was not a good experience just because it didn’t do well. I wanted to tell the story of ‘Simran’, it should be told. For me, it was as satisfying as ‘Tanu Weds Manu’. I’m extremely satisfied for making a ‘Shahid’ or ‘Sixteen’ or ‘Aligarh’ or ‘Omerta’. There are certain things which you’ve envisioned which didn’t go that well but they are exceptions. When the director is not in sync with a story or something, then things may go a little off-track or up to the mark – but when the story, director, actors, producer, everyone is in sync then obviously you will end up making a good product even if it doesn’t do well at the box-office. Out of 16 films, 14 films I can say have been really satisfying.
What is it that gives you a gumption to back films which may look different or risky on paper?
The most important thing to have a story which actually looks like it’snot common or popular. These are the stories which you need to make, even if they look risky. That’s when the economics come into play. For example, if ‘Judgementall Hai Kya’ was a film over 40 crore then it would not have been successful. But we made it under Rs.30 crore with Kangana and Rajkummar– then the producers, distributors will not lose money. So, the idea is to make different stories but nobody should lose money so that you won’t feel bad. A certain audience will only come to watch such films and spend money, so when you know, it’s not a 100-crore film then you decide the budget accordingly. Economics become very important in such films and we work on that.
What is it that you take back when a film doesn’t meet your expectations?
Definitely, you get a little disappointed.But you learn from them as to what is it that you could have done differently.So, one never knows what would have worked. Nobody has any formula for a hit; it’s always trial and error. When a film doesn’t work, you at least try and not repeat the same mistakes.