“Funding is not imaginary here”

It was only the teaser of the film but director Rupesh Paul is not hankering after publicity. The straight-talking director, who unveiled the first look of his film, Sherlyn Chopra-starrer Kamasutra 3D at NFDC’s Film Bazaar in Goa, tells Sagorika Dasgupta that funding for niche projects is abundant if the concept is right.

A title like Kamasutra is very provocative.

There is no law in India that prevents one from shooting nudity. There is only one law against obscenity. So if we prove that the film is not obscene and that the way it is shot is tasteful, the movie should be screened. Besides, law doesn’t bar one from shooting obscenity but there is a rule against distributing obscene content. These laws were made a long time ago, so probably no one took the loophole into consideration. If we face a problem regarding the screenings, my producers will surely help out.

Why did you want to make the film in 3D? Didn’t that add to the cost of production?

There was this film called Sex and Sin, which released alongside Avatar. Sex and Sin was shot in Hong Kong and was the first adult 3D movie. It was a very small-budget but classy film. And you will be surprised to know that, thanks to its low budget, it collected a greater return on investment than Avatar did. That’s why I started thinking of making film on different themes, apart from horror or slasher films like Final Destination, that work on 3D. The technology has now become a format for all kinds of genres. So using 3D was a natural decision for me too.

Have you made any films apart from this one?

I have made two films in 3D before this one. One was a Malayalam film called Raktarakshas, which was a horror film and will release soon. My first film was My Mother’s Laptop in 2008. It was critically acclaimed but a big commercial failure. It went to hundreds of festivals but didn’t make any money. So I started making small-budget films. One of my short films was accepted into the short-film corner of the Cannes Film Festival in 2010. Luckily, a bunch of producers contacted me after watching the film and decided to produce my next film, Saint Dracula, which is also in 3D. Saint Dracula is a British film, with a British cast and crew. Kamasutra is my third film and my next production is the Secret Diaries Of Monalisa. This is also an offbeat film and it is my own production and is yet to be completed.

Has the Film Bazaar been helpful in any way?

Yes, it has. When I came here in 2010, there was nothing here. It was quite lacklustre maybe because it was still quite nascent. When you look at the current catalogue, you will notice that the invitees are the same people who were at the European Film Mart in Berlin and the American Film Market at the LA Film Fest. International buyers and distributors have now started taking NFDC very seriously. We should capitalise on this opportunity. Unfortunately, only a small caucus is making use of this facility, because, to tell you the truth, not many filmmakers know about the Film Bazaar. Most of the directors who have come to Goa for IFFI attend only the screenings. They are not even visiting the Bazaar. Only people who are really clever come here and try to get funding.

You know, it is real money these guys are willing to invest. Co-productions and funding are not imaginary things here. You will get ready cash for your films if the producers like your concept. If they give you an advance, they don’t sign cheques. If you sign an agreement, they will place dollars in front of you.

Have you had any luck yet?

Not from this market but I have got a producer from the American Film Market. There were a lot of queries about who my lead cast was. It was an eight-day market and on the last day, I got a call from some producers who were willing to fund me. You can’t really predict these things and you have to be patient. In LA, there was a hurricane recently so not many people turned up at the festival this year. But I was lucky to find buyers.

Was it difficult to find investors?

For Kamasutra, people were willing to invest even hundreds of crores. (Laughs)

So sex sells?

You know, someone said, ‘In India, only Shah Rukh Khan and sex sell.’ But the story of my film Kamasutra is pure fiction. It is a Bollywood story. It’s like Jodhaa Akbar with some erotica and nudity thrown in. The storytelling is purely Bollywood style. The visual language of the film is Hollywood and the story-telling is Bollywood. The film has Sherlyn Chopra and has ten prominent Bollywood actors in it. Six women and four men. The names will be announced next week. But none of them will be present in the scenes involving nudity! (Laughs)

 

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As on 23rd December, 2017
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