HS: We went in for very realistic music, music that touches your heart. Ashaji and Sonu Nigamji have sung a song. Javed Ali and moreover Gulam Mustafasaab also sang for the film, after 24 years. He is Shaan and AR Rahman’s guru, Lata and now he is teaching AR Rahman’s son as well. The song has been written by Mehboob Alam, who wrote the lyrics for Bombay. The lyrics are very meaningful and the music brings tears to your eyes. It is realistic but I think the new generation will like it.
BOI: What are your marketing plans?
HS: We have a lot of strategies. We are looking at the non-Sikh segment as well. We are running a campaign called My 31st October Story. In North India, every second house has a story. Everybody is connecting with it, even young people. Remember the Jallianwala Baug massacre, where innocent Sikhs were murdered? If it is included in history books, people will not forget stories like these.
SK: I think it’s important because, today, any film needs marketing and visibility. It’s not like you get a solo release window. We understand we are releasing with a film like Mirzya. Having said that, I feel the most important tool for marketing a film is its promo. Most people decide whether or not to watch a film on the basis of the trailer. After that, word-of-mouth and good reviews matter for a film like this. So interviews like this one helps to get the film media’s attention.
Of course, you want to be in the news or seen on certain TV shows, and if certain media publications cover you, that means you have a certain standing and people are influenced by that. They want to see something cool and something that’s in. I always feel if your promo lets you down or you poster lets you down, you are drowned. I think we have received a good response to our promo. That will help us.
HS: Even overseas so many people have commented and expressed their interest in our film. They are just glad that someone has made a film on this subject.
BOI: In which countries are you releasing the film?
HS: Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the UK, and the US; obviously Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh; South East Asia; and South Africa. We have received a positive reply from Spain and Germany too. News is travelling and hence they are contacting us.
BOI: Did the film leave you emotionally drained? And what did you feel like after you were done shooting?
SK: This is an intense film and a one-day story. There is no respite because every day, you wear the same costume and do the same scene and it’s not like the film ends. The whole film is one scene. It’s very pacey but for 40 days of the shoot, you are basically in that one day over and over again. That can be tiring and we were not shooting in Mumbai. If you are in Mumbai, you meet friends and are distracted.
Here, they very cleverly took us to Ludhiana. There was not much to do. I don’t have many friends in Ludhiana. So Vir and I were shooting every day. We were on the set all the time and it was intense. A film like this stays with you and you can feel drained at the end of it.
But, as an actor, you are trained to conserve energy whenever possible and switch off. I have done many films were my fiancé has died and lots of other people have died, so I am used to crying. I used to give myself so much to it. Sometimes it used to be a back shot and you realise all you can see is a wide shot and you are asking, lens kya lagaya hai? 100 lagaya hai? Achcha isme actually rona padega. Otherwise, you are mechanical and choreographed. These are tricks of the trade that you learn quickly to conserve your energy.
BOI: The promo of your film has released. Are you happy with your product?
HS: Yes, I definitely am. I am happy the audiences are reacting to it. Most of it is positive and it encourages you to make more movies like this.
BOI: What’s next for you?
HS: Again, a controversial story, one of the most hyped Indian cases. We have bought the rights to it recently and will reveal it as soon as we have our main lead.
BOI: Are you directing this film?
HS: Yes, I am.
SK: Again something controversial (Laughs) but I can’t tell you as it is too soon. Announcing a film should be left to the producer. I am reading two scripts and I like both of them. There is a long way to go. Also, Kunal and I started a production company called Renegate Films and we are also co-producing something which is in the real space, controversial space. I am neither directing, nor acting in it.
BOI: Soha, you are very selective about the films you do. We see you on screen far less. With Hindi cinema changing, are we going to see more of you?
SK: You can only choose from what is offered to you. I wish I was offered more good roles and films. I think once we open this production company, we will be able to generate some content but we don’t want to generate content for ourselves because I think that takes away the credibility of the project.
There are a couple of things I am interested in. One thing is feature films and the other is digital content, which I understand a lot of people are getting into. I am very apprehensive because this is just the first wave. I think by the end of the first wave, we will realise who actually are the good players. I will have to wait and see but, certainly, there is a lot to do.