Amritpal Bindra and Anand Tiwari’s, Love Per Square Foot has become Bollywood’s first commercial production that will be exclusively available to more than 109 million Netflix members in 190 countries simultaneously.
Directed by actor Anand Tiwari, it’s produced by Ronnie Screwvala (his new production company RSVP) and co-produced by Amritpal. It stars Vicky Kaushal (of Masaan), Angira Dhar (of Bang Baja Baarat), Ratna Pathak Shah, Supriya Pathak and Raghuvir Yadav. Love per Square Foot will be available on Netflix in early 2018.
IN MODERN INDIA
Anand, who has co-written the film with YouTube sensation Sumeet Vyas, say that Love Per...has been inspired by their lives. “Both of us come from middle-class families, living in tiny homes in Mumbai. And, hence we had a big need for space. Space is a big constraint in urban cities, whether it is Hong Kong, New York or London. No matter how much money you spend, space is not enough. We wanted to speak about this,” says Anand, known for films like Go Goa Gone, Detective Byomkesh Bakshy!, The President is Coming and Aisha.
He adds that relationships and love have become transactional. “The love we saw in Kabhi Kabhi, Silsila, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge and Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, was supposed to be eternal. In modern India that’s not the case,” says he.
But isn’t the space issue restricted to metros like Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru? How will people living in Tier 2 and 3 cities connect with the story? Answers Annad, “The overall theme of the film is about home vs house. In Tier 2 and 3 cities as well the real estate prices are shooting up. You can’t live the same life that your parents did. The idea of home and love is changing with globalisation.”
WORKING ON THE THEME
Amritpal and Anand run a production house, Still & Still Media Collective, which is one of the reputed content creators for web, films, television and advertising platforms. The trio in the past has worked on the web series, Bang Baaja Baraat. How was it writing the script together? “We have been working with each other on several projects. Amrit comes from 20th Century Fox background and he has been involved in lot of scripts. He helped us during the scripting because Sumeet and I have no formal training in it,” Anand says, adding, “As for as disagreements are concerned, there were fights and disagreements, but we successfully were able to connect the dots and story. We kind of knew each other’s strength and weaknesses, because we are such dear friends.”
Amritpal adds, “Since the story is about home vs house and modern India, whenever we got stuck, we would think up a dialogue or scene that talks about the bigger picture. The theme kept guiding us.”
It is being assumed that the film is releasing online because the makers were not able to release it theatrically. But Amritpal and Anand says that it’s the opposite. “We always wanted a theatrical release and Ronnie was looking into it. But we had sent the film to Netflix, with other projects, for a digital release. They got back to us because they loved the film and wanted to release it as Netflix original and premiere on their platform,” says Amritpal.
Anand and Amritpal are happy that Love Per Square Foot is going to be India’s first original on Netflix. “I mean, this is the future! And therefore an exciting prospect for us. It’s big, considering the amount of digital consumption,” exults Amritpal.
To which Anand adds, “Also because of Netflix, the film is going to reach audiences across the world. We had articles appearing in Argentina, Britain and France. Like we watched Ozark and connected with it sitting in Mumbai, we hope people connect with our story. With such a platform, Bollywood will be able to enter unknown territories. We have the potential to do that.”
With films getting a platform like Netflix to release their films, it will change the way commercial films work in India. Anand believes that the dynamics are already changing. “Look at web series and how they have changed because of such platforms. The same will happen with motion pictures. We have come to a point where distributors, exhibitors and producers are in a difficult position; the rate of tickets are very high and making profit has become very difficult. Mainstream cinema is becoming smaller in terms of stories being told,” he says.
He adds that with such platforms, communications are opening up. “So why shy away from it, if we want to talk and reach to everyone. We don’t have to have an item song or follow a certain formula, we just have to reach audiences on a global platform,” he adds.
Amritpal maintains that with Amazon and Netflix coming into the picture, low quality content will not find pace. “People have to understand that Amazon and Netflix are looking for high content cinema. Just because a film is not getting a theatrical release, doesn’t mean it will release on those platforms. They are looking for high production values. Even Hollywood studious have to match up to their quality,” he says.