PA: I thought some may be busy and others may make excuses, so I was thrilled when none of them said no. We even had Raju Hirani who was on top of the list. He had said yes but eventually couldn’t do it.
ZA: Because of the format, it doesn’t make sense to say no. It is amazing to have somebody who works with you given an opportunity. All you have to do is be there while someone else does all the hard work. I mean, it’s just perfect. (Laughs)
PA: She thinks we did all the work. And, yes, it was really difficult to make this film. Initially, I thought if I get mentor and mentee to work together, I wouldn’t have to do much. It would be their problem to figure out the story and how to make the film. But I was wrong!
ZA: Surprise!!! (Laughs)
PA: (Laughs) It was crazy, seven directors… There was a time when I wondered whether I should have taken just four. Now that it has turned out so well, I am glad I took seven.
ZA: Also, next time you will know.
PR: There’s a first time for everyone. Handling seven different sensibilities and seven different personalities was a challenge. But they are extremely talented people. But everybody has a different way of expressing themselves, so, as producers, it was hard to handle seven different people. So, sure, there were some rough patches but that is part of the filmmaking process.
I mean, even in a feature-length film, I don’t think everybody loves everyone all the time! Creative clashes between a director and a producer are essential and an important part of the project.
BOI: When you approached these directors, did you have a specific genre in mind for each one of them?
PA: No, we had a round-table meeting, where we discussed a few topics and all the mentors had their points of view.
ZA: But they had a theme. I mean, ‘Shor’ was the theme, and you could go with any genre you wanted within that theme.
PR: The good thing about Shuruaat is that we tried to give complete creative freedom to the directors, to the mentors and the mantes, so that they could work in their own individual creative space. The idea was not to ask them to use any specific genre but to work with the theme in their own way.
PA: We started at the same time.
SS: We all had our challenges as the logistics were different for everyone.
PA: I think Amira was the first to complete and submit her film. But when you have to put all these films together, she had to come on board again, to work on the sound again. Each one of them challenged each other as they are very competitive and want the best for their respective films, so they wanted to change even a little comma here and there in the subtitles!
PR: At the same time, certain practical aspects come into play. That creative vs practical clash was…
AB: In the six years’ experience I have, I have not worked on a single project where the director and the producer have not clashed. I mean, they are all working towards the betterment of the film.
ZA: But the nature of their jobs gets in the way. That’s why I admire people who produce and direct their own films. I don’t know how they do it. It’s schizophrenic.
AB: But that was a limitation we were given and we learnt a lot from it. Since I had to produce, I was in a position where I couldn’t really afford to get people, beyond a point. I had to take a lot of production calls, which was totally new for me.
ZA: That happens when you have a small budget.
PA: And directors often have to take production calls even when there is a producer on the project.
PA: You have to keep the budget in mind. I have seen directors do that.
ZA: You have to decide what you want to cut out and that’s tough because you are, like, then I won’t have this location or I can’t take this actor. A good production needs money. It’s like you can’t shoot at the Taj and these are the options that you have. I can give you this instead or we can do this instead. We can shoot half a day here and cover it with production. That’s good producing, and it’s not just producing. We make sure the catering arrives.