‘Every film should say something’

Debarati Palit Singh
Friday, 10 August 2018

...says filmmaker Abhishek Sharma, whose recent Parmanu is set to make its TV premiere on Zee Cinema. He also talks about his upcoming film The Zoya Factor and how today’s audience will accept anything which is well made

After Parmanu: The Story of Pokhran, director Abhishek Sharma has already started working on his next project The Zoya Factor. The film, starring Sonam Kapoor and Dulquer Salman, is an adaptation of Anuja Chauhan’s novel by the same name. 

When ST got in touch with Abhishek, who is promoting the TV premiere of his critically-acclaimed film Parmanu, he said one has to be true to the essence of the story while adapting from a book. “That said, you have to adapt according to the sensibilities of cinema which is not about inner thoughts or imagination of characters, unlike a book. In a film, it’s more about action, creating the tension or comedy, so you have to be very visual. It’s a different ball game,” he pointed out. 

The Zoya Factor is Dulquer’s second Bollywood film post Karwaan.

Though a big name down South, he is still a fresh face for the rest of India. We asked Abhishek what made him sign the actor and he replied, “He is an amazing actor and I am looking forward to working with him. I recently watched Karwaan and he is good. Like you said, he is a fresh face but more than that, he is a brilliant actor. He has a certain charm which will be beneficial to the character and story. I wish him all the luck in the Hindi film industry.” 

As the discussion moved back to Parmanu, we congratulated him on the success of the film, which has earned close to Rs 65 crore at the box office. Abhishek said the film surpassed their expectations. “We were confident that people would like the film. Of course, the legal battle delayed its release, but once it hit the screens, it exceeded the numbers we had in mind,” he said. 

The John Abraham, Diana Penty, Boman Irani, Anuja Sathe-starrer is now set to make its TV premiere on August 15 on Zee Cinema. The director believes that because television is a strong medium, the film will now reach out to a larger audience. “We can capitalise a lot more on this medium because it goes to all kinds of audiences. Besides, it’s a universal film for Indians. Also, the channel caters to an NRI crowd, so it will have a much wider reach. We are very excited about the TV premiere,” he said. 

Like theatrical releases, TV premieres are a standalone deal. There’s huge commerce involved too. “Television has been, and even more so now, a very strong medium. There’s a large number of people who don’t go to theatres to watch films, so by showcasing your film on TV, you are touching and connecting with them. They have different aesthetics and tastes. We are curious about how the film will fare, so it’s a big day for us. Even from a commercial point of view, August 15 is a big market,” he said.   

Before Parmanu, Abhishek had directed a series of comedies including Tere Bin Laden, Tere Bin Laden: Dead or Alive and The Shaukeens.

Was directing a drama now a conscious decision? “The first three films were comedies but it was not a conscious decision. It just happened that the first story I had written had to be told in a comic manner. I want to do all kinds of genres and not think about which genre will be next,” he explained.

Even though Tere Bin... films were comedies, they highlighted an important subject (America’s war against terror), just like Parmanu focuses on India’s 1998 nuclear tests in Pokhran. Does the need to tell universal subjects come from within, we asked. “Every film should say something; it’s a conscious decision. Even if you are making a comedy, there should be something you are looking at. Obviously, Parmanu was a drama and had a bigger issue. But as a filmmaker, I am trying to say or comment on something. I do not believe in message delivery system. It should comment, only then it’s good content. It’s a conscious decision to have a theme and it should be stated clearly and loudly,” he said. 

More and more filmmakers are telling real-life stories nowadays.

Parmanu, Meghna Gulzar’s Raazi, Reema Kagti’s Gold, for example.

There is a certain kind of intrigue among the audience to watch these films. Abhishek believes that whatever works at that point of time, we make it a fad. “Having said that, today’s audience will accept anything which is well made. It’s not just about real-life stories but it could be other genres too, including comedy. The audience will accept anything which is good and entertaining,” he said.   

ST Reader Service 
Catch the TV premiere of Parmanu: The Story of Pokhran on August 15 at 12 noon on Zee Cinema

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