SUMAN GANGULY – By Jyothi Venkates
“I believe more in quality than quantity”
The filmmaker tells JYOTHI VENKATESH that his debut film Blue Mountain sets out to drive home the message that participation is important not winning
What is your film Blue Mountain all about?
My film is a family oriented musical film which deals with the issue of how the winners in reality music shows manage to face the world whenever they are eliminated from the show after winning in the initial stages and the trials and tribulations and also the ignominy of failure that they face during the process.
How did you get the brainwave to make the film with a subject like this?
I was actually surfing through different channels and froze when I saw one of the winners in a reality music contest getting eliminated and breaking down in front of the audiences. My mother was also shocked to see a good singer like him being eliminated. The expression on the boy’s face that night lingered long in my mind that night and I thought about how he will be able to face people in his home town when he goes back home and whether they will treat the boy as a winner or a loser. I decided to make a film on this sensitive theme.
What is the message that you set out to drive home through your film?
I wanted to drive home the pertinent message that participation is what is important and not winning or losing in any competition, especially music reality contests on TV.
What is the USP of your film?
Till date very few films have been made on adolescent young children in Bollywood. I felt that it is better to fill that void. The protagonist in my film is a 14 year old young boy called Yatharth, who is neither a child nor a young man. It is my debut feature film as a director though earlier I have directed as well as produced several documentaries and assisted national award winning directors and directed episodic shows for television
How did you discover your protagonist?
Yatharth is the first runner up of Sa Re Ga Ma Lil Champ. I auditioned over a thousand kids and discovered Yatharth. I needed a boy who is good at not only signing but also acting. Though one of my producers initially rejected Yatharth during audition, I got goose bumps when he set out to sing a song from the film Taare Zameen Par and decided to take up the challenge to train Yatharth by putting him in a six months rigorous workshop where he took part along with Simran Sharma from Simla and two other kids.
Is your film a children’s film?
I would not mind if my film is labeled as a children’s film though I set out to make a film which will appeal to everyone whether he or she is young or old. All the films on Harry Potter were adolescent films. I felt that if I too set out to make yet another Bollywood love story, I would not be able to contribute something new and out of the box to the audiences.
How many days did it take for you to complete your film?
I completed my film in around 64 days in Simla during the summer as well as winter with artistes like Gracy Singh, Rajpal Yadav, Ranveer Sheorey, Mahesh Thakur, Amit Behl, Arif Zakaria and Vinod Nagpal, besides Yatharth and Simran Sharma.
Which are the filmmakers who have inspired you a lot?
I have been greatly inspired by Hrishida, Satyajit Ray, Ritwick Ghatak, Sanjay Leela Bhansali and last but not the least Rajkumar Hirani.
Do you have any aversion to making a film with stars?
If you work with stars, it will only benefit your film. I want to prepare myself to work with all the Khans, including Saif Ali Khan. Today Ayushman Khurana is a star only because of Surjit but only one out of 100 can come up with a film like Vicky Donor. If tomorrow after the release of Blue Mountain, both Yatharth and Simran Sharma lend up as sought after stars, it would make me feel happy.
I have always believed in quality rather than quantity of a film. Instead of making three films in a year, I would rather make one film in two years because I want my efforts to be visible in any film that I set out to make. I have planned to make a film on the theme of universal spirituality on three women and their loves and desires, preferably with saleable stars, because the script demands that I cast known actresses.