Shefali Bhushan‘s love for music led her to connect with folk musicians all over India before turning director with Jugni
I hail from Allahabad but was raised in Delhi. I started with assisting in feature films but, being in Delhi, I was more into documentary filmmaking for television. I am also a trained classical singer, so music has always been the love of my life. Then I set up my own band called Beat Of India, which travelled to different parts of the country performing region-specific folk music. This experience with folk music opened my eyes to a different dimension of music. I met folk singers and picked up different languages. It has been a huge learning process.
I was always directing, whether documentary or short films. But directing feature films was another ball game and I chose a subject I was familiar with. I started my career in 1995 and I put together all the memories and research I had done over the years into making this film.
On Rahman’s pivotal role
Many years ago, I had mailed AR Rahman a small brief about a story, about a folk musician, which I was writing. He loved the idea and we decided to meet. Although things didn’t work out for that film, we kept in touch. He has always been a strong support in terms of me making a film. He introduced me to some film producers, and since he is a musician himself, he believed in my story. I am grateful that he has lent his voice to one of the songs in the film.
The film is the story of a folk musician and a girl who is in a troubled live-in relationship and is looking for stability and a career. Both of them have one thing in common, and that is music. That’s how the story moves forward.
When we decided to make the film, the plan was to cast a real singer. We kept on auditioning and they were brilliant but they were unable to lend the film the same feel that an actor does. So we decided to look for actors because a good actor can play a singer too. We auditioned Siddhant Behl and I knew I had found my protagonist in his very first audition. Also, Sugandha Garg is a fantastic actress, who I have known for quite some time. I was blessed to get a team that was very talented, like Clinton Cerejo, our composer, and every other technician as well.
Being an actor
I am also a theatre artiste and being an actor myself helped me understand what my actors want and what situations would bring out the emotions I wanted and how. Being an actor definitely helped me direct my first feature film.